Social media hasn’t been kind to “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” despite no one having seen the fifth film in the franchise.
It’s woke, users cried, citing early snippets, test screening rumors and other minutiae. Co-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge of “Fleabag” fame is the new Indy, they cried, supplanting Harrison Ford’s beloved hero to appease Hollywood’s female empowerment mandate.
Except no one had actually seen the finished film to confirm those rumors, and director James Mangold indirectly refuted the film’s replacement theory.
That changed this week.
The sequel’s Cannes Film Festival premiere allowed select film critics to screen the movie, slated for a June 30 release. And the early notices are less than kind.
“Dial of Destiny” boasts a limp 43 percent “rotten” rating at Rotten Tomatoes, a critical review aggregator site.
The BBC review called the film “gloomy and depressing,” but that’s not the critical takeaway from the pan.
[“Dial of Destiny”] has the air of a film passing the torch (or whip) to the next generation. But it does all this in an even gloomier fashion than The Force Awakens did. I’m not sure how many fans want to see Indiana Jones as a broken, helpless old man who cowers in the corner while his patronising goddaughter takes the lead, but that’s what we’re given, and it’s as bleak as it sounds.
Variety confirms what many suspected about the belated sequel – it’s a vehicle for Disney, Inc. to replace Ford’s Indy with Waller-Bridge’s heroine.
So while it feels like the film is setting her up to become the “new Indy Jones,” I wouldn’t bet the farm on that happening.
Others feared Waller-Bridge’s character would be Hollywood’s latest Mary Sue figure — a flawless heroine lacking the shades of gray that make heroes pop off the screen. Think both Rey and Rose Tico from the recent “Star Wars” sequels.
Here’s The Hollywood Reporter confirming those fears, too.
Waller-Bridge makes Helena quick with a wisecrack, handy with her fists and a demon behind the wheel, and as is de rigueur in these less restrictively gender-coded times, she’s unflappably resourceful, never helpless.
Yet Ford himself attempted to deny the rumors that the film sets the stage for Waller-Bridge to replace Indy in the franchise moving forward.
Harrison Ford squashed rumors about Waller-Bridge replacing him on the Today show by saying, “When I’m gone, he’s gone. It’s easy.”
Jones may be riding off into the sunset, but the reviews suggest his replacement has already been found. Now, will audiences embrace Indy’s goddaughter, or will she become the latest example of a woke figure alienating the masses?