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Movie Monday: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

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On a very hot recent Saturday when my energy was low, my husband and I treated ourselves to a Saturday matinee at the theater. Though the seats were modern recliners, the vibe was old-school adventure with Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, which we enjoyed very much.

As this new (and last) Indiana Jones movie opens, we get a flashback scene from 1939, with a young Indiana Jones in top form, escaping from Nazis, fighting on top of speeding trains, and keeping a priceless artifact, Archimedes’ Dial, out of the hands of the Nazis, along with his best friend and partner, Basil, played by Toby Shaw.  After that breathtaking scene of nonstop action, the movie shifts to 1969, as the fearless explorer archeologist is retiring from his job teaching at a university. It’s clear that Indy has aged (and not well) and has left his glory days behind. His beloved wife, Marion, (his love interest from the original Raiders of the Lost Ark) recently filed for divorce, his students are bored, and he’s spending a lot of time in his recliner, drinking too much. Then, his goddaughter shows up unexpectedly. Helena, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag fame, is Basil’s daughter, and Indy hasn’t seen her since she was a young girl. Now, she’s begging for his help to find Archimedes’ Dial. He’s reluctant at first, until they go back to the university archives, where Indy has hidden the half of the dial he and Basil rescued in 1939, and find that a group of criminals, headed up by the very Nazi that Indy was fighting on the train 30 years ago, is leaving a trail of bodies, Indy’s colleagues, in their wake. After an exciting chase through the streets during a ticker tape parade for the returning astronauts, Indy and Helena take the adventure on the road, heading through Morocco, Greece, and Italy. They are searching for the missing half of Archimedes’ Dial, with the bad guys hot on their heels. 

What follows is classic Indiana Jones, with action, adventure, mysteries, secret codes, and plenty of surprising twists. Yes, it’s true, Indy has aged considerably, but they work with that in the film. One of the best parts about this series (in my opinion) has always been its sense of humor, and that is shining bright here. Besides, Indy has Helena by his side, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge is fabulous, loaded with the confidence, charisma, and physical prowess that makes her seem a female Indiana Jones (I wonder whether she’ll star in the next movie on her own). The rest of the cast is great, too, with lots of characters popping up from earlier films. Harrison Ford himself is quite impressive, as an 80-year-old man playing a 70-year-old, and the CGI that makes him 30 years younger in the opening scenes is effective. As with earlier films in the series, the action is nonstop, the settings are gorgeous, and the plot is constantly surprising. I hated to miss a moment (but it is a 2 1/2 hour movie!). We were delighted by some of the unexpected twists the movie took. I’ve been hearing a few negative rumblings from critics and social media that it’s just not the same without Spielberg at the helm (James Mangold directs), but we loved this movie. My advice? Get a bucket of popcorn and just enjoy this nostalgic 2+ hours of pure fun. When you hear that familiar swell of music, just let yourself be swept away and enjoy the ride!

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is currently showing only in theaters. It is estimated that it will begin streaming on Disney+ around mid-August.

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