Why’d it Have to Be Eels?

As the final (hopefully) time Harrison Ford puts on the hat and grabs the whip, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny spends its best moments in reflection. Indy must contend with his son and a devastated marriage, things that weigh on him even as he careens through foreign roadways and through the sky chased by Nazis. There’s a self-reflective honesty to the character missing from the prior Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as Indy wonders if his quest(s) was worth losing everything.

Set in the late 1960s, Dial of Destiny still concerns a Nazi plot, this one tied to ancient history and of course, the title artifact. Escaping through an anti-Vietnam protest is the closest Indy comes to dealing with day’s social issues, and one that forces him to confront his own choices. It’s near-sighted, if in the same vein as his previous adventures.

So much of Dial of Destiny, from the location imagery to iffy de-aging tech, relies on a digital gloss

Flush with chase and action scenes, the design is such that these scenes intelligently connect to the story, the main thrust being Indy’s relationship with artifact profiteer Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). That allows the buddy movie dynamic to function as needed, the brief comic retorts softening a hardened shell that exists between them. It’s a moral debate, of which neither side agrees on, but the cardboard Nazi forces create the conflict that draws them together.

Dial of Destiny isn’t surprise-laden. The script finds new means to involve classic Indiana Jones tropes (snakes, notably), and various near misses and escapes lack the same punch they did in a pre-CG era. So much of Dial of Destiny, from the location imagery to iffy de-aging tech, relies on a digital gloss that lacks the same surreal authenticity of the original films. Crystal Skull similarly suffered by a lack of creative boundaries.

This last round of Indy does best when spending time on the intimate moments, where the usually campy action hero is forced to content with consequences, and wondering aloud if he made the right decisions. That’s where Helena is strongest too, as the disagreements between her and Indy come back to trust, value, and the greater good each is capable of. Both begin as hurt characters, and reconcile their pasts together in a well considered (and adversarial) bond.

The final act stretches Indiana Jones’ fantasy boundaries, if in a way that’s tied to actual history, allowing a sense of authenticity into the fantastic. This also works to cement Indy as a historian above all, even if its costs him personally. Helena becomes his voice of reason. Together, they make Dial of Destiny an imperfect conclusion to a classic series of films.

Video

Ignore some of the smudgy faces in the beginning – that’s the (modestly) successful de-aging effects at work. Soon after, Dial of Destiny’s texture begins to show through, a rich, true 4K source full of texture. Cinematography and post-production adds a vintage haze to things to set the time period, but doesn’t diminish texture or definition.

Skewing amber (primarily, with some deviations), age is suggested via the color palette too. Flesh tones warm but not to an exaggerated degree. Primaries can thrive in this situation, although do hold to the aesthetic. A touch of pastel is spotted too.

The light grain in the image makes a limited impact, and the encode can handle this material splendidly. At night, especially the opening action scene, black levels make a substantial impact. Shadows hold substantial depth, complimenting the bright contrast, although highlights do fall toward the amber tint, limiting their peak.

Audio

The mixing in this Atmos track is spectacular. Planes dash overhead, sound travels faultlessly front to back, and surrounds excel when on their own. Using the entire soundstage, the precision is what’s expected of modern blockbusters. Crowds fill each speaker, and bullets effortlessly bounce around as needed. Indy’s whip cracks in multiple speakers as he strikes, a precise example of sound mixing. Inside a cave, Indy and Helena shout, creating some of the finest sounding echoes ever.

Sadly, Dial of Destiny suffers from Disney’s pinched range typical of their Atmos tracks. Bass isn’t missing and does manage to produce power, but it feels halved from where it should be. Explosions have only marginal kick compared to other action films on this format.

Extras

Disney includes an isolated score on the UHD. The rest remains on the Blu-ray, comprised of a five-part making of that runs near an hour. While heavy on the promotional slant, it’s an excellent send-off to the series.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

An enjoyable adventure, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny pairs well to the original films, albeit with more digital gloss than before.

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User Review
2.5 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 48 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


One thought on "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny 4K UHD Review"

  1. Rocco Morocco says:

    This terrible mess of a movie and slap in the face to Indiana Jones fans should never have seen the light of day. The story was boring and uninteresting, the acting was terrible, the visual effects were extremely spotty and the lead female character was so obnoxious and awful that I wanted her to die throughout the film. The attempts at bringing in nostalgic easter eggs were so weak that they fell flat. I thought Crystal Skull was awful, but Dial of Destiny may have been just as bad if not worse. The original trilogy of films should have been it, but not the craving of more money led to them giving fans extremely inferior products. There’s no entertainment value to be had here.

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