Thoughts: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is the follow-up to the classic Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I reviewed yesterday. Temple of Doom is technically a prequel to Raiders of the Lost set one year before Raiders, however there is no real narrative context that connect the two films other than a few humorous references.
Temple of Doom's critical reception at the time was mixed due to the darker tone and more violent content of the film, in spite of this more contemporary critics now see the brilliance of this classic. One thing you have to applaud Spielberg and Lucas with Temple of Doom for is going to a completely different direction with the movie. There is also nothing rehashed from the previous movie except the quality of action and adventure. It breaks the rule that 80s action movie sequels have to be very disappointing.
As with Raiders of Lost Ark, Temple of Doom has been one of my favorite for as long as I can remember. Even though it was one of the few movies that actually freaked out Jacob and I a little when we were around 5 and 7 years old, with the hearts getting ripped out and the other kinds of creepy stuff, we still loved it.
Temple of Doom opened with a music number, which I usually cannot stand in a movie, but in Temple of Doom it actually worked in setting up the character Willie Scott. Also the club were the opening scene takes place is named "Club Obi-Wan", which is obviously a Star Wars reference to the character Obi-Wan Kenobi. Although the scene does not come even close to matching the iconic boulder chase of the previous film, it was effective enough and memorable. Willie Scott, played by Kate Capshaw, can be annoying during some parts of the movie, she does add comic relief to the film. She is just the steotyical "Dumb Blonde" character and not near as good as Marrion from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Another new character introduced was Short Round, played by Jonathan Ke Quan. He is one of my favorite characters from the Indiana Jones franchise and one of the best side kicks. The almost father-son relationship between him and Indy worked brilliantly, I wished that the fourth film would have included Short Round in some capacity. He had some of the most memorable and funniest lines in the movie. Also he reminds me of my best friend's Chinese adopted little sister in some ways.
Amrish Puri played the villain, Mola Ram, who might be the best villain in the Indiana Jones franchise. He is just pure evil and a very memorable character.
Despite everything that makes Temple of Doom great, there are some flaws. There are a few contrived plot points and some very unrealistic stunts but that does not take away too much from the film. Also some of the dialogue could have been a little better.
Now I will address some criticisms that are often cited by detractors of the film. Some claim that the portrayal of the Indian culture is very inaccurate, which some claim lead to the creation of an Indian stereotype. But this is a movie, a work of fiction, not a documentary on Indian culture. Another often cited criticism is that Short Round is some how a racist stereotype, which does not make sense because he is strong, likable character and does not portray the Chinese in a negative way, in my opinion.
Another interesting note, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is more of a fantasy than the previous film and I would almost categorized as a fantasy film.
Disclaimer: The original Indiana Jones trilogy has been some of my favorite movies for as long as I can remember, therefore I am somewhat bias.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg.
Genre: Action Adventure, Action, Fantasy,
Release date: May 23 1984
Running Time: 118mins
MMPA rating: PG
The Good: Fantastic action, Original story, Short Round, One of John Williams' best scores, Excellent use of humor, Ford was exceptional as usual, Iconic Mine Cart chase, Star Wars references,
Plot: The following plot summary is copied from Wikipedia.com.
In 1935, Indiana Jones narrowly escapes the clutches of Lao Che, a crime boss in Shanghai. With his eleven-year old Chinese sidekick Short Round and the gold-digging nightclub singer Willie Scott in tow, Indiana flees Shanghai on a plane that, unknown to them, is owned by Lao. The pilots leave the plane to crash over the Himalayas, though the trio manage to escape on an inflatable boat and ride down the slopes into a raging river. They come to Mayapore, a desolate village in northern India, where the poor villagers believe them to have been sent by the Hindu god Shiva and enlist their help to retrieve the sacred Sivalinga stone stolen from their shrine, as well as the community's children, from evil forces in the nearby Pankot Palace. During the journey to Pankot, Indiana hypothesizes that the stone may be one of the five fabled Sankara stones which promise fortune and glory. Watch the movie to see what next.
Watch the movie to see what happens next.
Plot: 9.4/10- Although the Temple of Doom's story was not quite as compelling compared Raiders of the Lost Ark, it was still very original and inventive, despite a few contrived plot points. Also the pacing was perfect, almost never a dull moment.
Action: 9.9/10- Spielberg really knows how to direct and film action scenes, and the Temple of Doom is no exception. Every action scene was framed perfectly and you can clearly see what is happening during those scenes. As with Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones proves that action does not have to be necessarily need to be flashy to be well choreographed and filmed. Also the famous Mine Cart chase really makes you like you are riding in it.
Acting: 9.0/10- Ford gives his usual excellent and entertaining performance. Jonathan Ke Quan, who played Short Round, gave one of the best child performances I have seen and a great sidekick to Indy. Kate Capshaw as Willie, was funny but, she was annoying at times. The other cast members gave solid performance, although there were not many other actors with talking parts.
Special effects: 8.4/10- While Temple of Doom is not the most effects heavy film compared to some today, it did win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects and definitely deserved it. Also the set design was top notch and I have never seen anything like it before or since.
Soundtrack: 10/10- One of the best soundtracks of all-time, John Williams delivers again using the iconic Indiana Jones theme and the new Temple of Doom theme, which is truly brilliant.
Comedy: 9.0/10- Temple of Doom might not have as much great humor as its predecessor, but there are plenty of laughs throughout, mostly from Short Round and Willie.
Would I Watch This Again: I have seen it many times and I will watch many time more.
Overall: 9.5/10- Overall Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom captures the great spirit of adventure of the first Indiana Jones film, yet does not retread over the same story how many other sequels have failed.
Closing comments: Although it does not quite reach the brilliance of Raiders, the Temple of Doom is fun, dark, and action packed.
Recommended for: Action Adventure fans, Action fans, Fantasy fans, Anyone,
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