Figure 1 – Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny poster by Captain_Jones82

Hard for me to believe that this hot weather has wiped me out so much lately, for cryin’ out loud; I used to live (as a kid) in Florida and Yuma, Arizona. Both places hotter than Vancouver, I’m sure. Oh, well. They say “age has its privileges,” but it also has its problems. Of course, one way to beat the heat is to go to a nicely air-conditioned movie theatre. If you don’t insist on going the first week or two, you can go when the theatre is mostly empty, which is what we did. By the way, it’s hard to find an “official” poster for this film; Figure 1 was taken from the internet (can you say “fair usage”? Sure, I knew you could), and it’s by Captain_Jones82, whomever that is.

Anyway, we’ve seen all the other Harrison Ford Indy movies in the theatre, so we had to see this one, since it’s the Ford finale, I believe. There may or may not be more Indy movies, but pretty sure none will have (except for AI or CGI) Harrison as Indy again.

In this movie, we start past Indy with his pal Doctor or Professor Shaw (Toby Jones) are trying to retrieve the Spear of Destiny (seen in a number of movies; for me the best-known is Constantine [Keanu Reeves]), which is the Spear of the Roman Longinus, which was used to pierce Christ’s side, supposedly now having some miraculous power or other. Indy and Shaw are retrieving it from the Nazis, who are being advised by Dr. Voller (Mads Mikkelson). In that fracas aboard a moving train, the duo find that the Spear is a fake, but half of an artifact crafted by Archimedes, the Antikythera, is real. And we all know that Hitler wanted all the supposed supernatural artifacts he could get—remember the Ark of the Covenant? (Personally, I think Indiana Jones and the Antikythera of Archimedes would have been a much better—if harder to pronounce—title than the Dial of Destiny one.) As has been noted elsewhere, various personages: Indy, Profs. Shaw and Voller, Col. Weber (Thomas Kretschmann) notably, are de-aged with CGI. It worked quite well, IMO. We then switch to the sixties.

Seems Dr. Voller has decided that if he can collect both halves of the Antikythera, he can travel back in time to the 1940s and change the course of history. Y’see, Archimedes (remember him? “Give me a lever and a fulcrum and a place to stand…”) devised a thingy that can detect rifts in time and space and where and when they will occur. (In reality, the Antikythera was an ancient Greek orrerry [say that word three times quickly; I dare ya] found in 1907 and only recently fully decoded. Sorry, all it does is predict planetary positions, not rifts in time and/or space.) Professor Shaw’s daughter—a well-written and -acted character whom I was hoping would die—is also after the Antikythera so she can sell it. Anyway, lots of hijinks occur, including a number of very long chases in various places. I enjoyed the movie, even though Ms. Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) stayed alive, he said grudgingly.

Figure 2 – Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse poster

Again, I had a heck of a time finding a poster for this film—most of what I could find using DuckDuckGo (I’ve quit using Google) are for the previous movie, Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse, but I finally did. I and the Beautiful and Talented Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk were quite taken with the animation and the concepts of the previous movie, and the voice actors were excellent too. If you saw the first one, you’ll know that in a different universe from the usual (I think it’s #65, but I could be wrong), a radioactive spider bit Miles Morales (What? Not Peter Parker? Well, that’s another story, another universe.) and turned him into Spider-Man. There’s a multiverse out there, and a multitude of Spider-Men and –women and –pigs and oh, yeah, even LEGO Spider-people (minor spoiler). But in this one, it’s Miles (Shameik Moore) a Puerto-Rican/Black kid (father Jeff [Brian Tyree Henry] African-American, mother Rio [Luna Lauren Velez] Puerto Rican. In the first movie, thanks to The Kingpin and a special Collider, Miles meets Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) and a host of others; Miles finds out that anyone not in their own universe will begin “glitching” and eventually die/disappear. In this movie, Miles finds out he was bitten by a spider from Universe #42. I don’t want to give anything else away, because if you enjoyed the first movie, you’re bound to like this one. Go see it before it ends up on TV.

And did I mention there’s another one coming? (After the strike is over, of course.)

Figure 3 – Heart of Stone poster

Okay, this movie is genre only by courtesy of the MacGuffin, which is a computer component called The Heart, which can hack into any computer, network, power grid—need I go on? You’ve heard all that before. If it weren’t for that this would just be a spy movie, and not a bad one, but not really with any new components. Gal Gadot (you know, tall, thin, attractive Israeli actor known for—oh, yeah, Wonder Woman and Fast & Furious movies) plays a secret agent named Rachel Stone. She is actually—I’m not giving much away here—a double agent imbedded into an MI-6 team of spies; she’s the agent who “stays in the van (as a computer expert/hacker); not a field agent.” Her MI-6 fellow agents are led by a guy named Parker (Jamie Dornan); they’re tasked with bringing in—to be pumped for information—a major weapons dealer. When things start going wrong for the team, she must blow her cover (while trying not to blow it) and actually get out of the van to help them. The whole op goes bad and they find out she’s working for a “mythical” organization called The Charter; then things go really wrong. We meet the head of The Charter, “Nomad” (Sophie Okonedo) and the computer expert/hacker of their rival, a young South Asian/East Indian woman named Keya Dhawan (Alia Bhatt).

The stated aim of the “bad guys” working with Keya is to avenge her parents; in reality there’s a more sinister purpose lurking in the wings. No Wonder Woman special abilities here, but Gadot (or maybe her body double/stunt double) shows a lot of athletic ability on ice, under water, on a racing vehicle and in the air. Lots going on; moves at a “mile-a-minute” pace, which keeps you from questioning anything too deeply. Which is okay—it’s just a spy movie, after all. We enjoyed it. (It’s on Netflix, by the way.) There’s what might be a very subtle nod, maybe, to Gadot’s famous role; see if you can spot it. And there’s a cameo from Glenn Close, too.

Figure 4 – Hidden Strike poster

Okay, this one isn’t really even genre. But it’s Jackie Chan! And (after a while) paired with John Cena! Come on, action/adventure fans! How can you resist this? Okay, here’s the deal: John Cena’s character (Chris) is part of a team that’s supposed to kidnap someone from a caravan leaving an oil facility in Iran. There’s a major oil facility that is going to be shut down, and the scientist in charge, Professor Cheng (Wenli Jiang) has put a restart code on a thumb drive so the facility can’t be restarted without it. Cheng and her assistants are the persons to be extracted from the caravan; the whole facility has over 500 persons, who will be taken from the facility in 11 buses, through the “Highway of Death” to a safe place. (I forget exactly why the facility is being shut down; it’s not that important, really.)

The team leader, Paddock (Pilou Asbaek) and his several unsavoury buddies try to persuade Chris to assist them, but he’s been in Iran for several years and feels responsible for the safety and welfare of a nearby village and its children—in fact, he’s been teaching them how to sing “Old Macdonald.” The convoy Chris won’t be attacking is going to be guarded by a military force led by Dragon Luong (Jackie Chan) and his men; Dragon’s estranged daughter Mei (Chunrui Ma) is one of the people being evacuated. This whole thing drags on until Jackie and Cena meet, then you have the classic “big guy vs. martial arts guy” fight scene. Which was fairly well done and funny. After that, it’s Jackie and Cena vs. the bad guys. The film takes a while to get going, but after Jack and John meet it picks up quite well—or enough to amuse me, anyway. Both actors are known for comedy; Jackie in numerous movies, John especially for his “Peacemaker” character in Suicide Squad and his own Peacemaker TV series. Both have pretty good comedic chops. As writer, teacher (and martial artist) Steven Barnes points out, there is a lot of wire work here and possibly some stunt-double work. But then writer and martial-arts movie blogger and expert Ric Meyers points out, Jackie is 69 years old (he’ll be 70 in April 2024), and can hardly be expected to do all his own stunts as he used to. For just an action movie, I thought it was quite fun in the end.

Whether you agree of disagree, all comments are welcome! (Just be polite, please.) You can comment here or on Facebook, or even by email (stevefah at hotmail dot com). My opinion is, as always, my own, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Amazing Stories or its owner, editor, publisher or other columnists. See you next time!

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