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Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny: The First Reviews For Indy's Final Outing Are Here

The upcoming "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" has a lot riding on it. It's the first film in the "Indiana Jones" franchise since "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which notoriously received a frosty reception from fans when it came out in 2008. "Dial of Destiny" is also unique in that it's the first film in the franchise not to be directed by Steven Spielberg or have a story by George Lucas. However, the two of them do have executive producer credits. Top all of that with a reported $300 million budget, and Disney's first "Indiana Jones" project has a lot to prove.

However, no doubt a significant portion of fans will just be happy to see Harrison Ford suit up as Indy one last time, but nostalgia only goes so far. What about the actual quality of the movie? The film has a June 30 release date in the United States, but reviews have already begun trickling as the film had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. So what do critics have to say so far about Indy's final adventure?

A fitting end to Indy's journey

"Dial of Destiny" has a massive legacy to live up to. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is widely considered one of the best adventure films of all time, and people have a lot of nostalgia for "The Temple of Doom" and "The Last Crusade." While it's up to individual opinion on whether "Dial of Destiny" reaches those heights, it certainly appears as though critics think it's a step up from "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." More importantly, many critics are finding it to be a fitting conclusion to the Indiana Jones film saga, and even if the series continues focusing on other characters, Indy goes out with one final bang.

Fans can rest easy knowing the fifth installment of the "Indiana Jones" franchise offers one fun romp. James Mottram of GamesRadar+ enjoyed the throwback vibe of the movie: "There's a nostalgic, old-fashioned feel to the film, a rollicking, globe-trotting ride that pits Ford's intrepid adventurer against the Nazis once more. Certainly, it makes up for 2008's outlandish Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, with a more grounded story." The final verdict from the outlet is four out of five stars, with the summary, "A terrific thrill ride. With Ford in fine form, Indy's last stand is a highly satisfying blend of action, humour and emotion."

Others agree the film is a lot of fun, with one mild criticism being that it feels fairly safe. The review for Radio Times ends with, "Perhaps the film could've been more daring – it feels fairly safe – but fans will leave cinemas feeling like their old hero had one final great outing in him." After the divisive nature of "Crystal Skull," going the "too safe" route may have been the one to take to ensure Indy's legacy ends in a manner fitting the cinematic legend.

The new tech and a new partner really work

Giving Harrison Ford some action-y stuff to do is always a safe bet. But "Dial of Destiny" also makes use of some impressive VFX, according to critics. As fans have already noted from the trailer, there's a sequence of Indy as a younger man, which takes place during the Second World War. De-aging actors has always been a tricky business, but it sounds like they nailed it with this one. 

Rest assured, there are plenty of CGI-oriented action sequences to fill out the runtime. While critics seem iffy on some of those effects, the work done on making Harrison Ford look like a young man again earned praise from Deadline: "Where new tech really comes into its own, however, is undoing the weathering of the years on Ford's handsomely old face."

But while much of the focus is naturally on Ford's Indy, he has a talented supporting cast, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge playing his goddaughter, Helena, who goes by Wombat. While Indy has had plenty of female co-stars in the past, it sounds like Waller-Bridge lives up to the best of them, as The Guardian notes, "Phoebe Waller-Bridge has a tremendous co-star turn as Indy's roguish goddaughter Helena Shaw, who wears shorts and shirt making her look like a grownup, naughty Enid Blyton heroine." A poor Indy companion can really tank one of these movies, but it sounds as though that won't be a problem here, with Waller-Bridge getting quips and action set pieces to spare.

Harrison Ford delivers an emotional performance as Indiana Jones

Director James Mangold is no stranger to fitting conclusions. He wrapped up the story of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in 2017's "Logan." Sure, he'll return in "Deadpool 3," but "Logan" remains a fitting final chapter for the character as he existed in the X-Men cinematic universe. And based on the reviews so far, Mangold has done the same to Indiana Jones. Critics have said that while there are naturally a few Easter eggs, the movie isn't over-reliant on them. Plus, the heart of the story is enough to keep viewers invested. 

Radio Times mentioned in its review how the film grapples with its aging protagonist: "At its heart is a great performance from Ford, one of his most emotional outings as Indy, as he comes to terms with his ageing body and life-regrets." GamesRadar+ also noted how Indy grappling with his age and regrets grounds the movie to make for a more emotional outing than previous efforts: "We see the character has grown older, but not necessarily wiser. Drinking a bit too much, he's full of regrets about pursuing fortune and glory and leaving his loved ones behind."

At the end of the day, "Dial of Destiny" has to live up to a massive legacy, much like Indy himself. Donald Clarke of The Irish Times was a bit more critical, giving the film three out of five stars, concluding that "Nobody with a brain in their heads will compare Dial of Destiny favourably to the first three films." But even if it's no "Raiders of the Lost Ark," it sounds like "Dial of Destiny" allows Indy to go out swinging, and to get one more solid Indy adventure is all anyone could really ask for at this point.