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.
Like 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.
The 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.
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!
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.