Gaming Editor Louis Wright discusses Indiana Jones 5, asking whether the new project will live up to its predecessors.
In a cinematic landscape utterly mired with an endless deluge of sequels, remakes, reboots, and franchises, it was inevitable that Indiana Jones would be resuscitated from the grave it was tossed into after the abject failure that was The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
The currently untitled Indiana Jones 5 (2023) is set to be directed by James Mangold, a departure from the franchise’s usual director Steven Spielberg. Mangold’s filmography, while far from being the most phenomenal, is certainly promising for the project as his most recent projects, Logan (2017) and Ford v Ferrari (2019), had solid stories and varied, often impressive, shots. If Indiana Jones 5 is set to be anything like Logan with it following an iconic, yet aged, hero, then it will certainly earn a reason for its existence.
However, while Mangold may well yet execute an excellent piece of directorial work, some comments he has made regarding the project have left reason for trepidation. On describing the character of Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Indiana Jones’ (Harrison Ford) goddaughter, Mangold stated she’s “slippery, charming, the girl next door, a grifter”. When compared to other descriptions of the character given by Waller-Bridge and Ford, stating her intelligence and expertise alongside the (potentially) titular hero, Mangold’s comment comes across as demeaning and devaluing of the character. While time will tell whether Mangold’s direction does Waller-Bridge’s character justice, there is presently reason to believe that he will present the character in the typical Hollywood chauvinistic fashion. This would be a massive waste of Waller-Bridge’s potential as an actress and robbing a younger female audience of a genuine heroine to aspire to.
Outside of the question of whether Indiana Jones 5 will be capable of justifying itself or not, this new addition (and supposed conclusion) to a now 41-year-old franchise raises the idea of why cinema needs another Indiana Jones film. The same can be said with the previously mentioned The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, released 19 years after its immediate predecessor and besmirching the name of a once beloved franchise. If a comeback for Indiana Jones did not work then, what ensures or even necessitates a comeback now?
These unearned and unnecessary sequels have become a plague on the cinematic landscape, and very rarely do they ever actually work. For every Blade Runner 2049 (2017) there are dozens of Ghostbusters (2016). There is a reason why, despite there being six Jurassic Park films, there is only one good Jurassic Park film; its sequels, made entirely for profit, are devoid of any sense of artistry or passion.
Therefore, to answer the question of whether it must be looked at from the perspective of whether Indiana Jones 5 is being produced solely for profits, or if director James Mangold has a story that could only be told through the Indiana Jones characters and franchise. The answer to that question is likely found through Harrison Ford. Ford is notoriously outspoken about his hatred for playing characters in overarching franchises, to the extent of begging for Han Solo to be killed off in Star Wars. For Ford to come back to Indiana Jones so willingly, but also be reportedly happy about his time on set there despite numerous delays, is a clear sign that there may potentially be more to this film than what is expected.
Big budget cinema has become a place for passion to die. Most of the modern day, creatively driven endeavours are only seen in the more independent market or smaller production companies (e.g A24), therefore, there is not much in the way of hope for Indiana Jones 5 to be a film of substance or passion. However, there are small glimmers of light in the abyss of profit driven cinema that could potentially save the film in some way. Time will only tell the extent to which the film is pulled from the maws of its predecessor and Hollywood as a whole.
Indiana Jones 5 will be released in 2023
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