Confessions of an INDIANA JONES Virgin: Allison Watches THE TEMPLE OF DOOM for the First Time

     May 26, 2013


Our daily series where Allison Keene watches the Indiana Jones movies for the first time. Read her intro/explanation here, and here’s her review of Raiders of the Lost Ark.)

On the momentum from Raiders of the Lost Ark, I got my popcorn ready for another rough and tumble installment of maybe the raciest PG movie series ever. But Temple of Doom left me and my popcorn cold.  It may be the most unnecessary prequel-sequel I’ve ever seen.  It didn’t add anything to the Lost Ark storyline.  It actually didn’t incorporate any elements of the original besides the fact that Indiana Jones is Indiana Jones.  The museum, the Ravenwoods, the class he never teaches … not even mentioned.  Instead we get dropped in Shanghai and confoundingly dazzled by a musical number before a John Woo film breaks out.  What?

Temple of Doom was violent, but not as much as Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was more specifically gruesome.  Still, death by crushing machine, alligator, burning pit of lava, etc, is pretty bad, but them’s the breaks when you are dealing with Indy.  Hit the jump for why I don’t think I’ll be setting India as a vacation destination any time soon.

indiana-jones-and-the-temple-of-doomLike Raiders of the Lost Ark, there was a really strong old-school adventure feel to Temple of Doom that I liked, but at the same time, there were some pretty gratuitous racial issues.  And this being 1984, people should have known better.

Was Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan) some kind of reparation for the dismissal of Indian culture by an embrace of Chinese?  Ehrm.  And while his character did turn out pretty badass, I had to feel bad for this kid who told Indy he loved him and he was his best friend, when we know from Raiders of the Lost Ark that he gets left on the dock or something, because he definitely does not appear in the next chronological film.  Sorry kid, unless you have knockers and some treasure, Indy ain’t got time for that.

Speaking of knockers, the only thing that saved the grating annoyance of Willie (Kate Capshaw, not yet married to Spielberg as of this film) from certain death were her good looks, but saints preserve us.  Was she ever not screaming?  It’s a pretty unfortunate situation from top to bottom (plus frozen monkey brains, snakes inside of snakes, pilotless planes, corpses and bugs galore), but in a movie where I felt like everyone was already shouting all of the time, her incessant racket was unbearable.  And forget being a resourceful female like Marion; Willie was entirely useless, with zero redeeming qualities (it didn’t help that Indy was always incredibly patronizing towards her, too).  Further, I don’t understand how their final kiss was played as triumphant when, again, we know they don’t end up together.  That wasn’t true love!  That was the only willing woman for Indy to get it on with.

temple-of-doom-kate-capshawThe action sequences were fun, and the child slaves were freed so we can all rejoice about that.  Some of the slapstick elicited a laugh or two, but the Bottom Line is that Temple of Doom is a great B-movie … and otherwise, a mess.  For a film with so many big names and that should have been even bigger and better than the original though, B-movie status just doesn’t cut it.  Fingers crossed The Last Crusade rights the ship.

Temple Roundup:

Favorite Character(s): The shrunken head on the skull crown, Short Round

Least Favorite Character(s): Willie

How About No: Those bugs. 

Merchandizing Moment: That mining cart scene was in there just so they could make a ride at Universal Studios, right?

WTF? Moment: Indy is confused why Willie doesn’t come to his room for some nocturnal shenanigans.  Um, Short Round is sleeping right there.  Come on, Indy! 

temple-of-doomOverly sentimental nonsense: The shooting star behind Indy and Shorty. Come on, Spielberg!

What worked best: The actual Temple of Doom, Kali blood, voodoo dolls

What didn’t work: I love how Indy gives the stone back to the village like, well, better than ending up in a museum! (even though loves museums more than anyone on Earth), yet later, the Ark of the Covenant, shown to have divine powers, is shunted away into a dusty room.  Also, who financed this trip, and since he didn’t get the diamond or come back with the stone isn’t somebody going to be annoyed?

Best Death: Heart through the chest via hand / chant extraction. Eeeks!

Best Quotes: “I thought archeologists were funny little men searching for their mommies.” “No, mummies.”

Check back tomorrow morning for Last Crusade.


  • kurt kress

    I think the point of the Indy Movies is that they were ment to be “B” movies updated and with a big budget. They are a celebration of those old serials that were played before the A movie. If you had watched those more you would appreciate Indy more. For Speilberg and Lucas Im sure its a return to their childhood. Perspective is everything.

  • Kevin

    The ark was a significant historical find that he wanted to be seen by the world. The stones are just magical items that the villagers use for their livelihood, so he had no motivation to want them in a museum.

  • doctor_robot

    why would temple of doom be connected to raiders? 2 different stories. i guess i don’t understand what you’re doing here with this article.

    • Sean Chandler

      Exactly. The first film establishes that he’s constantly going on adventures where everything goes wrong. Of course it’s unnecessary. But that’s not the point.

      I’m assuming she’ll give Last Crusade a better review for the obvious reasons. But the film is no more necessary or truly connected. I’m guessing she won’t call the next film unnecessary.

  • DoobieDave

    I love Indiana Jones….but Temple of Doom sucked. It did not have the same feel as the other movies, it felt like a joke. I am glad someone with a fresh perspective found that obvious as well. Not that it is anywhere near as bad as Crystal Skull.

    • movienut

      you sir, are on crack. short round is the fucking shit.

  • mattritchey

    I almost want you to watch CRYSTAL SKULL next so you can end the series on a high note with CRUSADE, but alas.

  • Sean Chandler

    “It may be the most unnecessary prequel-sequel I’ve ever seen.” Seriously?

    The entire point is that Indy is always having adventures. Besides some characters making multiple appearances and a few winks at the audience, these movies are all meant to stand entirely on their own. They’re all separate adventures.

    Did you say you have a minor in film?

    • GrimReaper07

      But why is it a prequel and not a sequel? The point of prequels is usually to show how something in a film came to be, in a way. In this case it could have been the story of Indy’s first adventure (I don’t care about Young Indiana Jones), or something that led him to be the man that he is in the first film.

      That’s why it’s unnecesary that it’s a PREQUEL to Raiders. Also, the film is worse than Crystal Skull and just as ridiculous.

      • Sean Chandler

        I would guess the reason to make it a prequel was to avoid immediately going back to addressing the Nazi’s and so they could go in a very different direction. Given the state of the world at the time, you can’t move closer to WWII without things drifting in that direction.

        As for the quality of the film itself, I worked for me. It’s not as good as Raiders. Willie is annoying, but it feels like it’s trying to out do Raiders at times. But I like it. Though I understand why others don’t.

      • Harry Palm

        Nothing is worse than Crystal Skull. NOTHING.

      • Hop

        Why the hating on Crystal Skull? Sure, compared to the first three it doesn’t stand up, but it’s still better then most other big-budget popcorn entertainment.

        I must be one of the only people on earth who actually liked that movie. It was, plain and simple, enjoyable popcorn entertainment!

  • Grayden

    So, you don’t understand why any of the story or character elements from ‘Raiders’ are in ‘Temple’ when two sentences previous you identify ‘Temple’ as a PREQUEL-sequel? Not saying your review is entirely baseless; just pointing out a glaring oversight.

    • Sean Chandler

      Yesterday she called the other films spin-offs. I don’t understand where she’s coming from at all.

      • Nerdgasm

        Read her reviews closer guys and stop being nit picky pricks. number one there are spin offs of the series like Young Indiana Jones not to mention other comics and novels. And i agree with her about the Temple of Doom. It comes before Raiders so it should set up the chracter for Raiders and it doesn’t. He doesnt grow he’s just there and there’s a different feel to him and different reasoning behind what he does but explanation as to why he is different in teh two movies. yes they are serials but making glaring character jumps is a disservice to the audience.

      • Nerdgasm

        NO explanation*

      • Sean Chandler

        There are spin-offs. Those aren’t what she’s reviewing. I’m being fairly critical of her reviews because she’s a film minor, who writes for multiple TV/MOVIE blogs, and she’d never seen any Star Wars or Indiana Jones films. Which I either have a hard time believing or I have a hard time taking anything she writes seriously.

        Given the genre, I don’t agree that a prequel needs to setup the characters. We’re just seeing a different story at a different period in his life. A period where it doesn’t have to address Nazis.

        I don’t see character jumps. I see a character in a very different situation.

      • Scotty B Goode

        Nerdgasm, you obviously work at Collider, maybe you are even Allison herself, maybe her boyfriend. I could look at these reviews with a microscope and they would still be pathetic. I have seen these movies about fifty times each as they were my father’s favorite growing up. She misses all the points and it is frustrating. If you look at how the majority of people on here are disgusted that should be an indication that she has no clue what she is saying. So, if you are a co-worker, please get rid of her, and if you are her boyfriend, do the same. This needs to end now.

  • David

    Thank you for pointing out how terrible temple of doom is. I for one has felt that it was and is still the worst in the series. Yes, I liked kingdom of the crystal skull more. Why? Because it had Marion, who is much more likable than Willie, even when she’s 50 something, the warehouse scene I felt was incredibly thrilling and actually made sense, unlike the fight in club obiwan. Was the only one who was confused to what was going on in that scene at first? And I’ve never understood why aliens are such a big thing that everyone hates. Yeah it was far-fetched, by a guy gets his heart ripped out of his chest and keeps living because of magic rocks and. People are ok with that.

  •‎ tarek

    You lost me at “It didn’t add anything to the Lost Ark storyline. It actually didn’t incorporate any elements of the original besides the fact that Indiana Jones is Indiana Jones. ”

    With all due respect , are you sure you are a film critic ?

    Who decided that a sequel storyline must be connected to its predecessor ?

    Honestly; I enjoyed Temple of Doom better than Last crusade, even though the latter was more faithful to ROTLA spirit.

    To each his own.

    • Guy Smiley

      I think she’s saying that, because Temple of Doom is a prequel to Raiders, she was expecting some kind of retroactive set-up for the events in Raiders. Something that lays the groundwork for the Indy we met in Raiders.

      I have to admit that it never occurred to me to expect that out of Temple, but then I was also just a kid when it came out and all I wanted was another Indy adventure.

      I don’t know that actual lead-ins to Raiders were needed, but Alison makes good points about Short Round and Willie. We heard nothing about either one in Raiders (duh, the characters hadn’t been created) and at the end of Temple we get no sense of why neither characters is around Indy in the other films.

      These certainly aren’t deal-breakers, just curiosities. I can see why Indy and Willie wouldn’t have lasted (being hot and having a great rack doesn’t make up for how annoying she was), but I always wondered what Short Round’s story was. It’s also kind of a shame we didn’t get Marion in both Temple and in Last Crusade somehow.

      Minor nitpicks aside, I still think Temple is a bit underrated. Not nearly as good as Raiders, and probably not as fun as Last Crusade, but still one hell of a action/adventure movie. Also the one in the series where Indy really does “save the day.”

    • Sten

      And isn’t it funny that she said in the first review it’s unnecessary that Indy’s a professor but here she misses his class teaching and stuff?

  • MulhollandDr

    Oh for f**ksakes, what a load of chilled monkey brains!!

    What bizarre universe have I stumbled into where people think Temple of Doom is a bad movie??!! Sure, it’s nowhere near as good as Raiders, but it’s still a fabulous action adventure movie.

    You have to remember what was around at the time as competition. Try watching Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone in ‘Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold’ or Tom Selleck in ‘High Road to China’; two films which tried to capture the magic of the Indiana Jones formula and failed miserably! Watch either of these films (which by the way can barely stage a decent action sequence between them) then tell me that Temple of Doom isn’t a great adventure movie!

    Short Round sums Temple of Doom up perfectly when he says “Hang on lady, we going for a ride!”.

    • Guy Smiley

      I’m sure Selleck was kicking himself for not taking the role of Indy, and doing High Road to China was his (failed) attempt to make up for that.

    •‎ tarek

      Short Round has said also: I am wondering… what is in the bag? ^^

    • Brett Negray

      I have never understood the hostility towards TOD. IMHO it is just as worthy an entry as any of the first three and a great movie in its own right.

      But my main point is this: I believe that I read long ago that the reason TOD was set up as a prequel was because everybody (the filmmakers included) assumed that Indy and Marion would continue to be an item after Raiders.

  • Scotty B Goode

    “The Temple of Doom” may not be the best movie, but these reviews are just an egregious display of movie-going. Your reasons for why it isn’t good don’t even make any sense. Not even remotely. Do us all a favor and please stay away from “The Last Crusade.” Please!

    • Guy Smiley

      So don’t read these then. Alison’s opinion is just that: HER opinion.

      I admit it’s weird that she’s a film major and had never seen any of the movies in two of the biggest, most influential franchises ever until recently (makes me wonder what other gaps she has in her film viewing). I don’t necessarily agree with all of her points either, though I think some of them are valid, but it’s still interesting to read someone else’s unique perspective. Her reviews aren’t bad… Just different.

      I mean, if you want to talk about things not making sense, what does “an egregious display of movie-going” mean? How does one go to a movie outrageously bad?

      • Scotty B Goode

        Um it makes perfect sense. An egregious display of movie-going would be defined as exactly what Allison has done, not paid attention and then publicized it for the world to see. An egregious display of movie-going would be someone who is more focused on other things than the movie itself, which would be fine if your job wasn’t to report movies on what I used to think was a credible source of movie knowledge. You seem to have a lot in common with old Al here. You both are unable to grasp ANYTHING. What are you going to ask me next? My opinion on Abner’s death?

  • Ethan Steers

    Temple is my favorite!!!!!!

  • indy42

    I agree with the general assessment that “Temple of Doom” just isn’t that good, but… Expecting it to continue the “Lost Ark storyline”?

    Were you under the impression that Indiana Jones is a Star Wars-esque saga, and not more of a James Bond self-contained-adventures thing?

    These reviews are, honestly, just pretty bad.

    • Guy Smiley

      Again, because Temple is a prequel to Raiders, I think Alison expected there to be preludes or foreshadowing to the the events in Raiders.

      I never really thought about much when seeing the Indy movies, especially since the movies were meant to be throwbacks to old action serials that didn’t concern themselves with continuity, but I can see why a newbie, today, used to seeing series with continuity (Harry Potter, the Marvel universe, whatever) might expect that.

      As I mentioned elsewhere, Willie is hardly missed in the other films, but I have wondered what the deal with Short Round was. He’s just there in this one movie, running around the world with Indy, never to be seen or mentioned otherwise.

      Even in your Bond example, there are some loose moments of continuity in the Connery, Lazenby and Moore movies. Some recurring villains and other characters, not mention Moore’s Bond visiting the grave of his wife (from the Lazenby film).

      I don’t think Temple’s feeling of being disconnected from the rest of the series is a huge problem, really, just something that struck Alison as odd and wanted to point out.

  • mmatthew

    I warned you to watch this one first! It is horrible. The worst of the four. Now you can enjoy the last crusade and Chrystal Skull.

  • ThisGuy

    Sure, I recall 1989, waiting at age 15 in a line that snaked outside the theater lobby and down the sidewalk on a warm summer evening, to catch “Last Crusade” on opening night, JuJuBe’s in hand. And sure, I recall leaving that theater having had my mind blown. Fresh Indiana Jones! More of some more! What’s not to love?! But I was only 15, what the hell did I know? Turns out that “Last Crusade” is just a microwaved rehash of the first film. Like “Hangover II” to “The Hangover.” It really does not hold up over time, and does quite a disservice to Indy’s supporting characters. Yeah, there’s more baddies and more chases and more creepy crawlies. And Dad Connery. But it is just watered down “Ark II”. “Temple of Doom” is no masterpiece, but at least it’s its own animal, with its own sense of eerie dread and atmosphere, and an ooky, kooky spirit of swing-for-the-fences fun. I’ll agree with other posters who rank ‘em 1.) Ark; 2.) Doom; 3.) Crusade.

  • Hop

    What a stupid, self-centered, lousy, illogical, absurd review!

  • GuyX

    You are a terrible critic. It seems like you cherry pick moments that you know people have problems with already, even though you claim you haven’t seen these. Same thing with your Star Wars reviews. Big shock you liked empire the most, hated the prequels and denounced the muppetness of Return of the Jedi. This isn’t a serial series where one film ties into the next it’s an anthology of adventures with Indiana Jones. Do you comprehend that?

    • Guy Smiley

      “Sorry kid, unless you have knockers and some treasure, Indy ain’t got time for that.”

      Can you blame him?

      Knockers and treasure are two (three?) of life’s greatest motivators.

      Kidding aside, Alison, if you’re reading these comments don’t let all the negativity and attacks here get you down. While it’s surprising you never saw these movies, or the SW movies, until recently it’s interesting to hear your unique perspective on these films.

      Given that it seems like no one can fully agree on this series, apart from most people liking Raiders best, I’m not sure what has people so up in arms or why they take someone’s opinion on some movies so damned seriously.

      • GuyX

        uuuh I think you replied to the wrong comment

  • movienut

    he financed his own trip. that’s why its a prequel to raiders. fortune and glory are mentioned about a dozen times. it’s assumed that his experience in this film pushed him into the direction where we see him in raiders.

  • Guest

    wait, did you ask if short round got left on a dock because he’s not in raiders? this takes place before raiders. jesus everybody’s right you suck that this.