Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny - the end of an era

The last chapter of the second most important saga envisioned by George Lucas is as divisive as the rest of the legacy sequels from recent years, but still makes for a very enjoyable ride.

The fifth and final film of the Indiana Jones saga comes to the silver screen at the possibly worst timing: with the reception for the Star Wars sequel trilogy staining indefinitely any project from Lucasfilm, similarly the reaction for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny could not be more sidetracked, biased and ingenerous. The sequels brought the target audiences to become extremely critical, with maniacal attention to any detail or misstep - often forgetting that the beloved original films of the respectful series all had their own similar idyosyncrasies. In all truth, it is a worthy coda to the films directed by Spielberg, with no bigger flaws than the ones other films of the saga suffer of - which is obviously not to diminish them either. And most importantly, it certainly does not sideline Indiana Jones, who remains the undisputed protagonist, with sidekicks that sometimes take the scene over, much like it had happened in the previous films too - let us not forget Short Round singlehandedly saving the day mid Temple of Doom. 

There are two major flaws in Dial of Destiny. The first flaw, is that it is very clearly different from the Spielberg movies. James Mangold obviously could not refrain from making the film in his very own style rather than adhere to the style of the saga. It is not exactly a flaw as much as a lack of coherence for the film, that makes it very distinguished as a legacy sequel, a sort of epilogue rather than a more organic fifth Indiana Jones film.  The second being that it focuses excessively on the dynamic action aspect of the saga, leaving around one third to the occult archaeological subtext: we barely see tombs, ruins and booby traps in the movie, sadly. This imbalance however is outweighed by the very subtle but interesting historical references: if the Spielberg movies invented practically the entire backstory for the artifacts and there really was no adherence to history, Dial of Destiny references extensively a real historical event, providing even a very imaginative (and obviously by no mean realistic) explanation for an actual metaphor used in the textual accounts we received about it, which is something no other film in the series really achieved. 

On Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny weighs the uneasy responsibility of being a film that really concludes a whole era of filmmaking: not only it is the last Harrison Ford appearance as Indiana Jones, John Williams' final film score, the last of the direct sequels produced by Lucasfilm following the Disney acquisition. In that sense it is a film that, much like its direct predecessdors cooked up by Lucasfilm in the last eight years, will never manage to entirely satisfy everyone and have universal acclaim, even if accomplishes its goal of bidding farewell to one of the most beloved film characters of western cinema.


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