4. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny certainly didn’t hit the heights of the original trilogy – its pacing slower, its classic all-time appeal less obvious, its premise less air tight, and its directing less flawless – but at least it didn’t jump the proverbial shark like some of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did.
Introducing new, relatively interesting characters with a tighter focus than in its predecessor, and surprisingly being a compelling commentary on the evolution of the film industry, Dial of Destiny was a timely reminder that fighting Nazis is always the right thing to do and that getting old doesn’t have to mean letting go of everything you care about.
While the presences of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were certainly missed, there was enough to warrant a strong standalone adventure without leaning too heavily upon nostalgia, and Harrison Ford seemed to still hold the same sparkle he’d always had.
Cinema can, of course, get better than this, but to the right audience this is a strong, emotive, exciting movie that is at least reminiscent of the great films of the original Indiana Jones trilogy.
3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Despite featuring a scene where a man literally rips another man’s heart from his chest with his bare hands, Temple of Doom plays to a somewhat younger audience than its predecessor, making for a less tense and therefore less thrilling spectacle than Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Gone are the important but few moments of prolonged action that brought so much success in the first film, or the narrow but clearly defined stakes that provided Raiders a strong backbone, Temple of Doom instead serving up an excellent prologue and an unforgettable final act but a somewhat hollow middle section filled with slapstick gags and way too much screaming. Once you notice the dinner scene featuring monkey brains and eye ball soup is going to last for over five minutes, it’s quite clear there are different intentions for this film than with the other Indiana Jones entries.
Temple of Doom is a clear downgrade on Raiders and The Last Crusade, the film feeling every bit like a 21st century action-adventure film in how it tries to cram so many set pieces into such a short amount of time, yet feeling simultaneously outdated with its almost prehistoric representation of other cultures and almost parodic ritual sequences (which are more live-action Scooby-Doo than Midsommar).
This is still very much an enjoyable film – when it’s good it’s great and Harrison Ford is simply tremendous – but the classic of the series it is not.
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