Here we have the second Indiana Jones, both the second one released and the second one on my list. Temple of Doom is one of those films that is a strange mix of ingenious inspiration and unfortunate creative choices. On the one hand, there are sequences of sheer brilliance, such as the opening scene with the gong, the mine cart chase, the spiked-ceiling booby trap, and the rope bridge standoff, all scenes that blow away most action movies and have been frequently imitated.
On the other hand, Lucas and Spielberg threw in many violent and annoying elements that detract from the film’s overall watchability. Did anyone want to see a guy get impaled by a flaming shish kebab or someone’s heart be ripped out? Is that inflatable raft scene really plausible? Kate Capshaw is lovely (Spielberg thought so too), but she’s helpless and irritating with all her whining and I-broke-a-nail prissiness. The bugs Willie must endure are a bit much but nothing compared with that bizarre dinner table. Chilled monkey brains, anyone?
Thus, it has much to criticize, while retaining much of the entertainment value of Raiders. Harrison Ford remains the quintessential action hero, yet he’s even turned into a villain, caging Willie and striking Short Round, although he is being mind-controlled at the time. Young Jonathan Ke Huy Quan is surprisingly likable as Short Round, much more so than other eager young sidekicks, like, ahem, Francis in Swiss Family Robinson. It makes me wonder what happened to his character since he never appears elsewhere, as well as Willie for that matter. Oh, that’s right, she married Spielberg instead.
Overall, Temple of Doom is an unnecessarily violent film (it helped establish the PG-13 rating) that is still quite worthy of the Indiana Jones name. Until Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it was considered the worst of the Jones films, but it has enough merits to still exceed many lesser adventure movies. It may be a bit bumpy, but it’s one heck of a ride.
Best lines (during the booby trap scene): (Willie, after seeing two corpses) “There are two dead people in here!” (Indy, in the shrinking room) “There’s gonna be two dead people in here! Hurry!” (and Indy, a little later) “Willie, we are going to DIE!” (the way he says it is priceless)Artistry: 5 Characters/Actors: 7 Entertainment: 9 Visual effects: 9 Originality: 8 Watchability: 8 Other (violence, language): -4 TOTAL: 42 out of 60
Next: #191 – Joyeux Noel
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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