Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 12/5/23;
Disney/Lucasfilm;
Adventure;
Box Office $174.48 million;
$29.99 DVD, $36.99 Blu-ray, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of violence and action, language and smoking.
Stars Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas, John Rhys-Davies, Shaunette Renée Wilson, Thomas Kretschmann, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook, Olivier Richters, Ethann Isidore, Mads Mikkelsen.

If ever there were a time for a new “Indiana Jones” movie, it was the 1990s.

Building off the momentum of the first three films, they could have been solid, dependable adventure yarns at a time when Harrison Ford’s age wouldn’t have been an issue.

Instead, the post trilogy “Jones” movies took so long to get made that the adventure seemed to take a back seat to a need to make the film feel extra significant in some way, as if it were a tribute to all that came before it.

As a result, 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, coming 19 years after the previous film, felt a bit like a TV-movie reunion to an old show, rather than a vibrant relaunch of the franchise. As it were, it still took more than a decade to get a fifth installment off the ground, and by then the property had been sold to a new studio, Steven Spielberg stepped aside as director in favor of James Mangold, and a global pandemic hit, all while Ford was pushing 80.

So it’s not much of a surprise that what would eventually be called Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny would also be touted as the final “Indiana Jones” film.

While Dial of Destiny lacks some of the cornier elements that hampered Crystal Skull, it also feels a bit less connected to what an “Indiana Jones” movie should be about.

Mangold, to his credit, tries to capture some of the spirit of the 1980s films with a prologue set during World War II, using visual effects to de-age Harrison Ford into an age-appropriate Indy.

Here, the famed archeologist and old pal Basil Shaw (Toby Jones) have stumbled upon a compound where the Nazis are hoarding priceless artifacts. Among them is half of the Antikythera, an ancient mechanism created by Archimedes.

After a harrowing escape from a doomed train, the setting shifts 25 years later to 1969. It’s just after the moon landing, and Indy is now a bitter old man on the verge of retirement. He gets a visit from Basil’s daughter, Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), who wants to take up the search for the other half of the Archimedes dial. Indy resists, but soon finds himself ensnared in a cat-and-mouse game between Helena, who turns out to be a thief looking to sell the dial for a profit, and a former Nazi scientist named Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) who was recruited by America to work on the space program. Voller believes the dial can be used to locate fissures in space-time that can be used to travel into the past, and he intends to change history by helping Germany win the war.

On the surface it all makes for an enjoyable adventure movie, but it doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. And the third act takes a narrative leap that, while serving a thematic purpose for this particular story, employs a plot device that brings the franchise to a place it probably should never have gone.

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Dial of Destiny has its moments, looks great, has a fantastic musical score from John Williams, and it hits a few nostalgia buttons with cameos and callbacks to the earlier films. But it will mostly leave fans wishing the “Indiana Jones” movies had just stopped with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (George Lucas’ “Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” TV series notwithstanding).

The Dial of Destiny Blu-ray contains the same five-part making-of documentary that came with the film’s digital release months ago. The component featurettes offer a comprehensive look at the production, from location shooting to visual effects to casting, which is interesting from the perspective of the craftsmanship involved. But it also has some earnest interviews from the filmmakers who mostly spout the polished praise for each other that are hallmarks of these kinds of concurrently made extras that lack the insight of retrospect.

In the 4K Ultra HD combo pack, the documentary is available only on the Blu-ray of the film. Both the 4K disc and the Blu-ray offer the film with a score-only track so viewers can hear the John Williams music without any dialogue or sound effects. While it doesn’t quite make up for the debacle over the film’s short-handed CD soundtrack release (which now fetches hundreds of dollars on eBay), it is a nice tribute to the maestro.

‘Ford v Ferrari’ Driving to Home Video

The racing drama Ford v Ferrari will be released through digital retailers Jan. 28, and on Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 11 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Based on the true story about Ford Motor Company’s attempt to create the world’s fastest car, the film stars Matt Damon as American car designer Carroll Shelby, and Christian Bale as the fearless British-born driver Ken Miles, who joined forces to battle corporate interference and the laws of physics to build a revolutionary race car and take on Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.

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Directed by James Mangold, the film earned $110.1 million at the domestic box office.

The Blu-ray and digital editions will include the eight-part, 60-minute behind-the-scenes documentary “Bringing the Rivalry to Life.”

Digital bonus materials include the featurette “The 24 Hour Le Mans: Recreating the Course,” and animated pre-visualizations of the Daytona and Le Mans racing sequences.

A “Matt and Christian: The Conversation” featurette with reflections on the film from Damon and Bale will be available exclusively through iTunes.

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