“We have a really human story to tell as well as a movie that will kick your ass.”
That was Harrison Ford at the D23 expo in September, soft-spoken with the mic and grateful at 80 years old, as he announced to an excited crowd that he would be returning to fistfight nazis and punch them into rotor blades one more time.
All you need to see to immediately alleviate concerns of botched CGI in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny are the below images. The top is a still image released in the Disney press kit for the upcoming fifth and final film. The bottom is a screenshot from the original in 1981:
A de-aged Harrison Ford in 2023’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
De-aged Harrison Ford looks great.
Only a cynical contrarian, after seeing those, is saying otherwise. Everyone knows a cynical contrarian has no place in a nostalgic 1940s time-travel adventure. Industrial Light & Magic has blended the young-Ford CGI into current Harrison with the supreme skill you would expect from Industrial Light & Magic. They were also the team behind the polarizing CGI of The Irishman and seem to have course-corrected with a much more subtle portrayal of a de-aged screen legend. The nitpicky differences arise from the slightly deeper cheek creases and Ford’s widened face that could only be verified by a wandering intruder touring the ILM lab with a contour gauge.
Between the notably advertised use of de-aging and the Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny trailer, the plot is pretty clear. Indy gets lured back into artifact lust-aftering by his old friend John Rhys-Davies. The artifact is a time portal called the Dial of Destiny. Nazi Mads Mikkelsen also wants the fancy timepiece. Nazi Mads Mikkelsen wants a second chance at world domination. Indiana Jones defeats nazi Mads Mikkelsen but in the process gets trapped in 1944 Berlin…
How’d I do?
The fifth franchise installment will be directed by James Mangold, who also directed Logan. Everybody knows how Logan ends. If you don’t, (SPOILER) let’s just hope Indiana Jones doesn’t end up in a forest impaled on a tree limb.
Earlier this week, Screen Rant pondered on the use of de-aging when transitioning from Steven Spielberg to James Mangold as director (Spielberg stayed on as a producer). Their take was that because the de-aged Ford might only be used sparingly in the upcoming film, it will avoid oversaturating the audience with too much CGI Indy. Mangold’s current collaboration with ILM is also notable, as ILM has made use of new software that more accurately blended archival Harrison Ford footage with motion-captured footage of his current features. Ford himself approved of the new CGI in a November interview with Empire Magazine, saying “It’s a little spooky. I don’t think I even want to know how it works, but it works.”
Besides the advancement of ILM’s de-aging software, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny has a couple of other things going for it…
Mads Mikkelsen as a nazi villain
I had to look up the casting credits just to shout them out: Carmen Cuba and Nina Gold cast the new Indiana Jones. Mikkelsen is perfect. He’s destined for these roles as a hypereducated, scholarly evil man. Mikkelsen did not require any de-aging technology. He is a 57-year-old Danish god.
Image credit: Walt Disney Studios
Antonio Banderas as a…grizzled survivalist time traveler?
It’s unclear what purpose Banderas will serve in Dial of Destiny. Does it matter? If you had to read into his publicity still image, one might say he’s a curmudgeon-y prison-break specialist who now lives in a Dubai shack as a survivalist with a banjo. Maybe he has that dissatisfied grimace from a bad experience with the Dial of Destiny time portal.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Helena
Helena is not a love interest 50 years younger than Harrison Ford. Plausible, but not this time. She is confirmed to be Indy’s goddaughter. Waller-Bridge’s disposition could enlighten any production and she’ll operate as Indiana Jones’ mischievous, rambunctious partner as they travel from 1969 to 1944.
Harrison Ford de-aged shows promise for future films
The casual fan can be excited over any number of things, from the deep cast down to the endorphin buzz of getting to see a favorite character do it one last time. From a post-production standpoint, Dial of Destiny is one more step forward in developing facial CGI that doesn’t feel like a distraction, but serves as a subtle contributor.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will release in theaters on June 23, 2023.