A close up of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

Wait, How Does ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ Have a Worse Rotten Tomatoes Score Than ‘Crystal Skull’?

As Indiana Jones has been a staple in cinema for four decades, it should be expected that the movies would have a range of positive and negative views. At the high end, the franchise is an adventure-filled ride with superb action scenes and impeccable acting. But, at the low end, the films have been called washed-up nostalgia relics that need to be left in the past.

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As the fifth film, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, is the last movie starring Ford, our hopes for the movie are high. But following the disaster that was 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, our expectations have been significantly lowered. Still, comparing reviews for these final two films is … confusing.

Indy’s last outing is not a total hit with critics

Dial of Destiny will see Indiana Jones go on one last ride as he and his goddaughter (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) try to find the Archimedes Dial before the Nazis do. It’s an interesting plot as the movie is a direct sequel to Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and will feature more otherworldly elements—Crystal Skull dealt with aliens and Dial of Destiny will dive into time travel.

But the connection to Crystal Skull could be a bad omen for Dial of Destiny as the fourth Indiana Jones movie was by far the most hated in the franchise. According to Empire, the film has been referred to as “a franchise fuck-up initially index-linked to three short phrases — ‘CGI gopher’, ‘nuking the fridge’, ‘swinging through the trees’.” It’s not surprising that a good number of fans say that (before this most recent installment) there have only been three Indiana Jones movies.

It’s surprising, then, that the Rotten Tomatoes (not a perfect system but a decent indicator of consensus) score for Crystal Skull is as high as it is. Somehow, that movie sits at a sweet 77% fresh rating. Meanwhile, when the first Dial of Destiny ratings came out of its premiere at Cannes, it had only 66% positive reviews. Although now that it’s been opened up to a larger press audience, that score has jumped significantly, up to 67% as of this writing.

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
(Walt Disney Studios)

Nerdist referred to Dial of Destiny as the franchise’s “most okay” film thanks to a combination of an average script and a lack of joy that seems to stem from the fact Indiana is a drunk, lonely professor instead of a charming, adventure-seeking badass. The A.V. Club cemented that Ford’s last outing as Indy was more of a whimper than a bang as the movie has a “lack of emotional stakes and [a] perpetual struggle with pacing.” And AZCentral said that there was a “staleness” to the movie as Ford “leaned into the franchise’s greatest hits, only they take longer to play out.”

However, the film also has plenty of glowing reviews, including from our own Rachel Leishman, who called it “the revival that fans have been waiting for.”

Ultimately, the most perplexing thing here is not that Dial of Destiny’s score is so middling, it’s that Crystal Skull’s is so high—especially when compared with its audience score of 53%. (Dial of Destiny’s audience score is a stellar 88%, though that’s bound to shift now that the film has had its wide release.)

Have you seen Dial of Destiny? What do you think of its perplexing Rotten Tomatoes placement? Let us know in the comments!

(feature image: Walt Disney Studios)


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Kayla Harrington
Kayla Harrington (she/her) is a staff writer who has been working in digital media since 2017, starting at Mashable before moving to BuzzFeed and now here at The Mary Sue. She specializes in Marvel (Wanda Maximoff did nothing wrong!), pop culture, and politics. When she's not writing or lurking on TikTok, you can find Kayla reading the many unread books on her shelves or cuddling with one of her four pets. She's also a world class chef (according to her wife) and loves to try any recipe she can find.