Friday, May 23, 2008

Indiana Jones Marathon: "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"

Continuing my marathon, here are my thoughts on Indy #2...

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Indiana Jones is sidetracked on his way back from Shanghai to India where the natives set him on a trail to find their sacred stone where Jones discovers a slave labor camp and pagan rituals.

Disastrously limp prequel, set in 1935, derails the Indy franchise-in-the-making, which, was miraculously resurrected with Last Crusade. Opening sequence with a race for an antidote and a diamond at “Club Obi Wan” in Shanghai is as absurd and nonsensical as the entire movie. Kate Capshaw’s Willie Scott is easily the film's biggest liability with her girlie girl performance (done on-purpose as a characterization-of-sorts: “I burnt my fingers and broke a nail!”). Indy, calling Wiilie “sweetheart” the entire time doesn’t help matters. The humor, usually involving how stupid and girlish Willie is, is cartoonish and simply not funny. Gross-out sequences, particularly the dinner scene (eyeballs in the soup, “chilled monkey brains”) and the secret passage (with gross bugs) are memorable in their mindnumbingness. The main ritual sequences are cheesy: if Raiders was a throwback to the '30s serials than this one is a throwback to '50s kiddie fare [I prefer the '30s]. Entire underground sequence, until the end, is by-the-numbers for the most-part and too outrageous (fire breaks you out of the spell?) to be acceptable. Last quarter of the film which begins with the mine shaft sequence and ends with the rope bridge sequence (quite good) has its moments and almost (almost) makes you forget how bad the movie was up to this point. Does have an adventurous sweep and 24 years later audiences may be more forgiving, but nowhere in the league of its predecessor and easily outclassed by its sequel.


Jeremy said...

I have to say, I'm one of those who's a fan of "The Temple of Doom". I found it to be very funny, and the most intense of all the films. I thought it was a throwback to 30s fare as Raiders was. I know a lot of people are annoyed by Kate Capshaw, and she is no Karen Allen, but I didn't think she distracted me from the film. I think the action is just as fast and furious as Raiders, and I like the fact that it acts as its own entity and is far removed from the others in the series. But that's just me.

Oneliner said...

You're not alone in that assessment. I actually do admire that Spielberg et al. went a different route with this second film (and to compensate, made it a prequel). I truly wonder if the only change were that another actress played the heroine whether I would have a completely different take on it.