Unlike my previous 'Indiana Jones' reviews, this review is based on a one-and-only time viewing of a film. I, therefore, had to take a lot into consideration when I went in, and as a result, didn't actually terribly mind it. In fact, I enjoyed it! The two biggest considerations were between preparing myself to see some sort of time travel (which felt just about as out of place for Indy as Aliens did), and, to be frank, I didn't think it could be worse than 'Crystal Skull'. As I predicted from first trailer, this came out to be a pretty good "in-between" with (I think) much more good than bad to it.
Of course, this is gonna end up being one of those split-down-the-middle movies for a while to come for Indy fans. Right now, a lot of people are saying this is worse than 'Crystal Skull', but I have to disagree wholeheartedly. While the movie is by no means on par with 'Raiders' or 'Crusade', I might argue that I liked it a little better than 'Temple'. Unpopular opinion, maybe, but at least this didn't have a screaming damsel in distress the whole way through it. On the contrary, if this is indeed a passing of the torch to a new character, I think they picked a great person for the female role with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who I knew from 'Fleabag' (which is a pretty solid show).
Plot-wise, we open in 1944, when Nazis are in search of another ancient artifact of Christian symbolism in the French Alps. There, the Nazis capture Indy (Harrison Ford) and his accomplice, Basil Shaw (Toby Jones) while they attempt to intercept the relic from them. I won't go into spoiler territory here, but this all does lead to some true Indiana Jones-style action adventure involving a long chase on a train, which eventually leads to Indy getting his hands on this movie's central artifact; half of Archimedes' Dial, aka the "Antikythera", built by the one and only Archimedes. This device supposedly finds fissures in time, allowing for possible time travel.
We then fast-forward to 1969, when an elderly Indy lives a lonely life in New York City. He has since separated from Marion (Karen Allen) for reasons involving their son, Mutt (Shia LeBeouff from 'Crystal Skull'), and it's all explained at one point in the film. One day, while teaching, he runs into his goddaughter, Helena Shaw (Waller-Bridge), daughter of Basil. She comes to study the dial, which Indy has in his possession after being given it by Basil, promising to destroy it, which he never does. Her actual plan is to sell the thing on the black market to help support herself and her own personal Short Round character, Teddy (Ethann Isidore).
Of course, Indy won't be having any of that because something like this "belongs in a museum!" Before the trio (including Teddy) know it, however, they come face to face with Indy's old kidnapper; the Nazi, Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) who still looks quite young, and I guess it's supposed to be taken with a grain of salt. Anyway, this guy now works for NASA under the guise of "Dr. Schmidt", and he too is after the dial. The whole thing ends up being a pretty classic 'Indiana Jones' execution as it involves Indy (and company) keeping evil from getting its hands on something with great power. Along the way, we learn a thing or two, have some fun, and embrace a bit of true adventure.
Now, as I said, the film isn't even close to being on par with 'Raiders' (which can be considered "classic" Indy) or 'Crusade' (which I consider "perfect" Indy). But personally, I might place it slightly above 'Temple' (which is "classic" Indy in its own, unique way to many, and I'm not here to undermine that). Aside from the aforementioned lead female character being a hell of a lot better here than in 'Temple', I also tend to prefer action/adventure 'Indy' as opposed to... shall we say... nightmare fuel 'Indy'. I even say that well-aware that the Thugee ceremony was placed #1 on my "Top 10 'Temple of Doom' Moments" list. But I mean c'mon, that's classic.
I also appreciate how there's some fan service here, but I didn't feel like it really went overboard about anything. It was cool that you get a lot of that "classic" Indy through a lot of the movie. The chase scenes are fun, the dialogue is pretty humorous, and all in all, it's not a bad way for Indiana Jones to part ways with us once and for all (or so it is said). The only thing I really see irking people are the scenes and dialogue involving time travel, and maybe the character of Teddy (whom I didn't personally mind, but I can see him being a problem for some). I can't say I came out of it altogether "impressed", but I can say that I felt it was a satisfying step up from 'Crystal Skull'.