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.

Animated ‘Mosley’ Available on Demand and Digital Dec. 10, DVD Dec. 14

The animated film Mosley will be released in theaters, on demand and digitally Dec. 10, and on DVD Dec. 14 from Saban Films and Paramount Home Entertainment.

Featuring the voices of Lucy Lawless, Rhys Darby, Temuera Morrison and John Rhys-Davies, the family adventure follows a species of creatures known as “thoriphants” who rebel against their life of servitude and embark on a treacherous journey to find the fabled city of Upright. Discovering he belongs to a heroic tribe of two-legged giants, Mosley is determined to prove he is more than just a farm animal.

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Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Adventure;
$47.99 Blu-ray, $90.99 UHD BD, 5-disc set.
Rated ‘PG-13.’
Stars Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies, Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan, Sean Connery, Julian Glover, Alison Doody, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Cate Blanchett.

 This latest collection of the “Indiana Jones” films contains some of the greatest action-adventure films ever made, and also Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Timed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first Indy adventure, 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, the set for the first time offers the four films of the franchise on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Raiders, as well as 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, have been remastered from the original negatives and are presented here in stunning 4K resolution, with upgraded color timing and sound mixing as well. The films, particular the earlier ones, have never looked this vibrant on home video before.

Raiders is undoubtedly on the short list for any discussion of the greatest action movies of all time. A throwback to classic adventure serials, the film was conceived of as an homage to classic pulp storytelling by creator George Lucas, who then brought on pal Steven Spielberg to direct.

The first follow up, Temple of Doom, was much more grim in tone, no doubt a subconscious manifestation of the personal troubles the lead filmmakers were dealing with at the time of its production.

Last Crusade follows more in the Raiders mold, bringing on Sean Connery as Indy’s father as a subtle nod to Spielberg’s desire to make a James Bond film. The film is perhaps a bit of an overcompensation for criticisms of how dark the second movie was, indulging more in humor than the previous movies.

Crystal Skull pays homage to classic sci-fi ‘B’ movies that tries to recapture the magic of the original trilogy 19 years later, but ends up feeling more like one of those reunion movies TV shows used to do, checking in on what the characters are up to years later.

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While the new remasters would be reason enough for fans to pick up this set (if they can find a copy — supplies were rather scarce its first few days of release), there are a few drawbacks to the set. The cardboard used in the packaging is rather flimsy and subject to crimping from overhandling, though it does come with a nice folded insert with a map of Indy’s adventures on one side and a collage of the four films’ theatrical posters on the other.

Also, the Ultra HD set contains only 4K discs for each of the films, no regular Blu-rays, though redemption codes for digital copies of each film are included. There is a separate Blu-ray collection available, but this appears to be little more than a re-issue of the 2012 Blu-ray collection, now with digital copies. The Blu-ray versions appear to be the same as from 2012, and not the remastered versions.

Each film’s 4K disc also includes a few trailers, but nothing else in the way of extras. As with 2012, the 4K set includes a bonus disc, which is a regular Blu-ray compiling a number of featurettes for each film. This is the exact same disc as the 2012 set, so the new collection really is basically just a 4K upgrade of the 2012 set with worse packaging. Given the number of extras from earlier DVD releases and the standalone Crystal Skull Blu-ray that weren’t included on that bonus disc, it’s a shame they were also weren’t included on this set.

However, with production on a fifth Indy film, there’s always a chance that a future five-film Indy set will be more of the true archive edition that fans would embrace.

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