So the reason “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is getting mixed reviews is that it’s “Woke?”

It was, in hindsight, probably a mistake to try and send off “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” at the Cannes Film Festival. It was also a mistake for Lucasfilm to migrate the entirety of this franchise frrom Paramount to Disney, but nobody asked me.

Film festivals, like studio movie junkets (inviting critics to fly in, review a film and interview the cast), are a font of “group think.” And Cannes, famous for going all-in on the artsy, the pretentious and the “single minded vision” of this or that celebrated filmmaker, is rarely friendly to straight-up Hollywood popcorn pictures. That’s been the case with “Dial of Destiny.” The earliest reviews are, to put it charitably, mixed.

Fine. Harrison Ford is very old, and this franchise has been flogged to death. I look at the trailers and know to expect a lot of repetition, and a protracted effort to wring emotion out of our sentimental attachment to the character.

You know going in that this might feel gassed, and that winning over viewers, new ones especially, will be an uphill battle for its distributor. I mean, “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” sucked, after all.

Having a very old leading man — de-aged for flashbacks — means that more of the movie will be in the hands of his “goddaughter” sidekick, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Cool. Women have played big roles in this saga, with Karen Allen‘s Marion Ravenwood setting the too-tough-to-be-a-damsel-in-distress standard, and Mrs. Spielberg being a sort of lone exception to that rule. Sorry, Kate.

But conservatives, smelling a movie that’s going to struggle, a DISNEY movie at that, have decided that “the worst reviewed Indiana Jones movie” is “bad” because it’s “woke.”

That whole “blood in the water,” “take credit for killing something” for political points thing. Maybe prop up Florida’s would-be dictator governor and would-be presidential candidate in his public spat with a publicly-traded company.

It’s all over the interwebs. The wingnutoisie are foaming at the mouth for a Disney flop. Not just the usual suspects. Or the most cynical opportunists. And not just the North American wingnuts. Oh noooo.

The label was applied even before the damned movie was shown to anybody, which has more to do with DeSantis-loving Disney bashers than anything Waller-Bridge has ever said or any film director James Mangold has ever made.

If this sounds like the pushback that’s been going on ever since Disney announced that a Black woman would be starring in the live-action fairytale “The Little Mermaid,” it is. Same crowd. Same “issues.”

One of the most defensible reasons for carrying the Indiana Jones franchise on for over 40 years –on film and on TV — is watching the character do what humans have ALWAYS done — EVOLVE. From his regressive, post “white man’s burden” racial regard for Arabs in “Raiders” and somewhat patronizing treatment of Asians in the early films, he, like most of the world, has been enlightened and changed with the times.

He is, after all, an academic and a scientist. But wait, modern conservatism hates those folks, too. Ask the guy in the white lab coat named Fauci about that, or for that matter the tsunami of scientists who predicted and are now documenting the ever-worsening impact of climate change, which they have to label the phenomenon of “Global Warming” because conservative billionaires smeared that simpler, more direct and bluntly-correct name for it.

By the way, most of these folks buying into the cynical “anti-wokism” trolling of opportunists who, like Trump, know how easily led the reactionary are — they’re just looking for someone to validate the narrow-mindedness they refuse to let got of — stopped going out to movies before Clinton left the White House. So they’re all worked-up about something they don’t have a stake in other than letting us know something else they just “hate.”

If there’s one thing that all these “very fine people, ” none of whom seem very good at defining “woke,” have in common, it’s a hatred for “the other” races and a soul-sucking desire to keep women in their place.

Remember that the next time some Eva Braun blonde on Fox denies she’s a racist, or some middle aged white rabble rouser declares “There’s no such THING as a Republican/Conservative war on Blacks/Asians/Latinos/Gays or Women.”

The actual negative reviews of “Dial of Destiny” don’t typically fault the movie for broadening its canvas or widening its demographic appeal. “Woke” is being attached to those reviews to score political points. I’ve had run-ins with some of the folks doing the sh-t-stirring, and have run into and/or read some of the critics beating this drum about this “element” of this movie. And there’s not a one of them I’d follow over a cliff like Glen Beck’s lemmings.

Deeper into June, other reviews will come out, mine included. And June 30, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is released. I dare say if it’s got shortcomings, they won’t have a damned thing to do with politics.

And here’s a news flash. Indiana Jones has ALWAYS been “woke.” He hates Nazis, which is modern western conservatism’s REAL beef with the old man with the whip.

Nazis HATE Indiana Jones, too. As if we needed more proof.


About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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