Review: New Indy movie fails to capture magic of original three films

Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Lucasfilm)

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is an overlong but passable action flick that brings one of cinema’s greatest adventure characters back to the screen for purportedly the last time.

At 80 years old, Harrison Ford remains a star. His charm, gruffness, charisma and wry smile carries the movie as well as anyone could expect, but the film itself shows the franchise’s weight and age as the law of diminishing returns works its wicked voodoo on the beloved character and actor.

The film, directed by James Mangold, does have its fun. His deft craftsmanship does show up throughout the adventure, but the script’s insistence on paying homage to previous Indy films begins to play like a worn and warped greatest hits album. It’s comfortable and even enjoyable to an extent, but oh so predictable.

Mangold is a fine director as movies like “Ford v. Ferrari,” the remake of “3:10 to Yuma,” “Walk the Line,” and “Logan” attest, but he allows his one to wallow in the weeds of nostalgia. Maybe he loves the first three films, directed by Steven Spielberg, too much? Or maybe I do?

The opening sequence of the film serves as a prologue set in Indy’s prime of 1944. Nazis again are the villains a young astrophysicist Jurgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) set up in the sequence as the prime antagonist for the film. Here we are also introduced to Indy’s compatriot Basil Shaw (Toby Jones), who is the father of Helena Shaw, Indy’s goddaughter, whom we meet in the film’s present of 1969.

The movie explains Indy’s familial relationships from the previous installment, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and has him being forced into retirement at Hunter College. Helena shows up and the movie is off on a convoluted journey full of MacGuffins as Indy, Helena and Roller seek a dial that is a time-travel mechanism, created by Ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes. From here, the movie goes exactly where you expect it to.

I would have appreciated a tighter cut of this film, but I did enjoy the movie thanks to Ford’s performance. He’s hard not to like. While I dearly love the first three movies in the series — “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is one of my four of five favorite movies — this is a good time to close the book on Indy and his franchise and move forward with new heroes and ideas.

I doubt Disney will let the character lie dormant forever. That’s just not how Hollywood works, but in a perfect world, it would have after the third film back in 1989.

(PG-13) 2 hr. 34 min.
Grade: C+

It Ain’t Over

(Five By Eight Production)

If you are a baseball fan or if you just like a good story told extremely well, let me suggest “It Ain’t Over,” a relatively recent documentary on the late great Yogi Berra, one of the all-time great baseball players whose career with the New York Yankees bridged the time between the Joe DiMaggio era and Mickey Mantle’s.

Berra, who died in 2015, was a Hall of Fame catcher for the Yankees, who over time became more known for his colorful but unintentionally funny way with words than for his splendid talent on the field. His light-hearted and affable nature off the field belied the heart of a champion on it.

A few of Berra’s famous quotes include:

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
“You can observe a lot by just watching.”
“It ain’t over till it’s over.”
“It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
“No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded.”

The quotes at first seem nonsensical, but if you think about them, they contain a nugget of truth.

Berra was a key cog for Yankees teams that won 10 World Series titles in 12 seasons, accumulating more than 2,100 hits and 358 home runs in his career with a career batting average of .285. The powerfully built St. Louis native stood 5-7, but was known as one of the best game-callers and defenders of his era.

Berra called and caught every pitch for Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, a 2-0 victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen did not shake off a single one of the pitches Berra called.

Beyond the diamond, Berra served at the D-Day Invasion on a gunner ship in World War II, where he earned a Purple Heart.

The film written and directed by Sean Mullin is fine piece of work that’s informative and entertaining, details many great stories including how Berra, whose real name is Lawrence, picked up the nickname Yogi as well as he and his family not particularly appreciating Hanna-Barbara Studios basically naming a cartoon character after him.

The documentary was in theaters recently and is available to watch on a number of pay-per-view platforms and should be picked up soon by one of the streaming services.

(NR) 1 hr. 38 min.
Grade B+

New in Local Theaters – June 30, 2023

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (PG-13) 2 hr. 34 min. (trailer)(AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Skylight)
Past Lives (PG-13) 1 hr. 46 min. (trailer)(AMC Fiesta Square)
Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken (PG) 1 hr. 31 min. (trailer)(AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne)

TCM Offers Musical Salute to the Fourth of July

In celebration of Independence Day 2023, Turner Classic Movies serves up a musical salute to the good ol’ U.S.A., all day Tuesday

The selection of films has a distinctly American appeal and features many beloved classic musicals. In between cookouts and the fireworks, the holiday is a perfect time to take in one or more of these movies.

One great thing about musicals is their stories are usually easy to follow if you tune in during any part of the film. They can be enjoyed even if it’s just for a single musical number.

Here’s Tuesday’s holiday lineup:

6:30 a.m. — Million Dollar Mermaid: This 1952 film stars everyone’s favorite mermaid Esther Williams and Victor Mature in a show-business-themed love story.

8:30 a.m. — Annie Get Your Gun: Pistol-toting sharpshooter Annie Oakley (Betty Calhoun) joins Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show in order to corral her intended beau Howard Keel in this fun musical Western.

10:30 a.m. — Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: Keel returns in this highly entertaining 1954 musical about a Oregon trapper with eyes on Jane Powell to be his bride. However, when he decides to marry, his six brothers jump on the matrimonial band wagon, too, and the high-stepping courting begins.

12:30 p.m. — Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra are dancing and singing baseball players who run afoul of their team’s new female owner, Esther Williams, in this 1949 ode to America’s pastime.

2:30 p.m. — On the Town: Kelly and Sinatra team again in this 1949 tale of sailors looking for love and fun while on shore leave.

4:30 p.m. — Yankee Doodle Dandy: This song-and-dance filled biopic details the life of vaudeville and later Broadway star and producer George M. Cohan, who wrote and performed the titular tune. James Cagney gives a tour de force performance as Cohan.

7 p.m. — The Music Man: This Broadway hit about a librarian (Shirley Jones) who falls for a film-flam artist (Robert Preston) who convinces the local yokels in investing in a start-up boys marching band.

9:45 p.m. — 1776: This snarky and smart 1972 musical details how John Adams (William Daniels), Benjamin Franklin (Howard da Silva), and Thomas Jefferson (Ken Howard) put away differences and banded together to lead the Continental Congress to draft and adopt the Declaration of Independence.