Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

"Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory."

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom isn't a sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is actually a prequel, set a few years before. At this time Indiana Jones is a slightly less heroic character, one who is in it more for the financial fortune than the academical glory (he's still scared of snakes, though).

The entire opening sequence is so gloriously over the top it's almost bordering on the farcical, kicking off with a great big Busby Berkley-style musical number that proves, as far as Spielberg is concerned, anything really does go. Which is part of the problem with Temple of Doom. Lucas and Spielberg overindulged themselves with this one. By this point they both had enough money to buy the Moon twice over. As such, the film's action scenes tend to be somewhat OTT. But what action scenes. I honestly think Spielberg is incapable of directing a crap action sequence. The mine car chase, most of all, is a work of ludicrous beauty as the film suddenly becomes an actual roller-coaster ride.

Lucas and Spielberg have both admitted since that, at the time they made this film, they were both in a pretty dark and depressing place. Temple of Doom reflects that. For a summer blockbuster, this is a dark film. Really dark. Sometimes gratuitously so. Ritual sacrifices with beating hearts being ripped out, a dinner feast that includes snakes surprise and eyeball soup, children enslaved, and our hero is turned into a zombie slave. He evens says a naughty word. And this is meant to be family film?

Raiders gave Dr. Jones some of the best sidekicks in cinema history. Temple does not. Quite the opposite in fact. Has there ever been a love interest more annoying than Willie Scott, or a sidekick more irritating than Short Round? No, I thought not. Spielberg might have been impressed by Kate Capshaw but I sure wasn't. Willie is the human equivalent of nails on a blackboard. She's annoying from the get go and only gets worse as the film goes on. And the same can easily be said for Short Round.

Another of the film's major failings is the Bad Guys. Apart from the fact he can rip out people's hearts with his bare hands (which is pretty damn cool), Mola Ram is bland and one dimensional. In his few scenes we learn very little about him, apart from the fact he's evil and wants to take over the world. That's about it. I'm not sure how he hopes to achieve that with a bunch of glowing stones. Unlike the Ark of the Covenant, we don't really get a sense of the power of Sankara stones or why they are so sought after.

Notes and Quotes

--Although not my favourite, this was the first Indiana Jones film I ever saw. I was very young at the time but my parents didn't mind me seeing a film where a man has his heart ripped out.

--Dr. Jones wears a bow-tie. Need I say more.

--Bugs. Why did it have to be bugs? Snakes I can handle, but creepy crawlies freak me out.

--In a nice callback to Raiders, Indy faces two swordsmen and tries to shoot them only to find his gun missing.

--The Wilhelm Scream is heard three times during the film. First when a food cart in Club Obi Wan crashes into the orchestra, again when the tommy-gun man is shot by Indy during the car chase at Shanghai and finally when Mola Ram is eaten by the alligators.

Indiana Jones: "Willie, Willie, Willie. What kind of a name is that? Is it short for something?"
Willie: "Willie is my professional name, Indiana."
Short Round: "Hey, lady! You call him Dr. Jones!"
Indiana Jones: "My professional name."

Chattar Lal: "Dr Jones, wasn't it the Sultan of Madagascar who threatened to cut off your head if you ever returned to his country?"
Indiana Jones: "No, it wasn't my head."
Chattar Lal: "Then your hands, perhaps?"
Indiana Jones: "No, it wasn't my hands. It was my...[looks down at his groin), my misunderstanding."

Willie: "Is he nuts?"
Short Round: "He no nuts, he's crazy!"

Indiana Jones: "Mola Ram! Prepare to meet Kali... in Hell!"

Two and a half out of four Cole Porter songs.
---
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

8 comments:

Unknown said...

Who is this Indian Jones you talk about? ;)

Mark Greig said...

You've never heard of Indian Jones? What rock have you been living under? :)

ChrisB said...

Until the fourth (which part of me continues to refuse to believe was ever made), this was my least favourite of the three movies for many of the reasons you list.

However, average Indiana Jones is better than a lot of what else is out there!

Another great review, Mark.

Jess Lynde said...

This is definitely the weakest of the three (there is no fourth, as far as I'm concerned), and yet I still find myself watching it every time I settle in for some Indiana Jones. I'd say the bugs were the worst part, if not for Willie. She's awful.

Matthew L said...

Hmmm...I echo the sentiment that this movie is better than that thing that is the 4th movie.

In comparison to Raiders and Crusade, I don't try. Since it took place before Raiders, I took it as a stand alone "episode/adventure" in Indy's life.

I found it to be pretty funny rather than dark, which goes to show you what level my humor operates at. :)

I agree that Willie Scott is super annoying, but she does make for some funny scenes when she goes to help Indy and encounters those bugs and tries to help them in the collapsing room.

Billie Doux said...

You know what I remember this one for? It was the movie that made the U.S. powers that be decide that PG wasn't good enough, and there needed to be a rating in between PG and R. It was the heart thing.

I didn't like this one all that much. Not a great sequel.

CrazyCris said...

Hey! I like Short Round!!! Always have! Granted I was first introduced to him as a kid (I think I was 11 when I first saw it), so he was my entry point. PLus he gets bonus points for being a Goonie! :D

Lol! I'll NEVER forget my first impression of this movie. I saw it on TV (I think a video tape) at some friends house in the middle of a family dinner. They had put all us kids in the living room to eat in front of the TV, and brought our food out right before the big dinner scene ("Snake Surprise" still freaks me out). And we were given spaghetti bolognaise! Needless to say "bloody" noodles weren't very appetising when you saw that dinner unfolding before your eyes! *shudder*

And Willie... I'm not sure I can forgive them for introducing us to Willie! I'll actually almost take the 4th movie over this one because of her!

But yeah, the chase scene in the mine was EXCELLENT! :o)

tricksterson said...

I liked Short Round too. Willie, on the other hand... :P.
One thing that always bugged me about this movie was that in the first Indy doesn't believe in magic, but in this one, which chronologically comes first, he not only sees magic but actually uses it!
Oh, and I don't hate the fourth movie. Didn't like it as much as the first or third but moreso than this one.