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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Starring: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rated: PG
RunTime: 118 Minutes
Release Date: May 1984
Genre: Action

*Also starring: Ke Huy Quan, Amrish Puri, Roshan Seth, Philip Stone, Dan Aykroyd

Review by David Wilcock
2 stars out of 4

Steven Spielbergs headache inducing, if not pariculary exciting, second Indiana Jones adventure. A prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), this film sees intrepid archaeologist/adventurer Indiana Jones (Ford) plunged into a dark world of child slaves, thugees and dark rituals. It's up to Jones, and his child friend Short Round (Quan) and singer Willie Scott (Capshaw), to save the kids, and stop the thugees from finding two diamonds that could give them a lot of power.

Temple of Doom starts well enough with a well directed performance of 'Anything Goes', performed by Willie. We then have one of the greatest opening sequences ever when Jones bargains with two Chinese over a diamond. Naturally, the bargaining goes wrong, and the sequence turns into a slapstick routine with Jones trying to find the diamond which is being kicked all around a restaurant. It's a very well directed scene, and features even more chaos than Speilbergs own 1941 (1979) jitterbug scene. After this, there's an exciting plane crash. But after the plane crash, the film starts to go downhill when Indy is set on his quest.

The main problem with the film is that it tries to out do Raiders of the Lost Ark on every level. The film features more 'gross out' gags, more stunts, more explosions and more gory deaths, but strangely it all seems 'dead.' It all seems to be in there just for the hell of it. Unlike Raiders, where all the big chases and stunts were exciting, Temple of Doom piles on so many deaths, explosions etc. it just cancels itself out. The film is trying so hard to make the audience excited, it just falls flat on it's face.

Also, the heroine in this picture is pathetic. She just shouts and screams, and points out the obvious. She seems to just ask 'What is it?' questions, so Indy can explain to her, but mainly to the audience, what is going on in the film. From the start, Capshaw is terrible, just shouting and screaming and being really annoying. If I were Indy, I would of tried to dump her as quickly as possible. Had the screenwriters wrote her part better, her whining and screaming could of been funny. However, like everything else in this film, she is hugely exgrarated, and almost seems pointless in this film. The child sidekick, though, is nowhere near as annoying, and is good fun. He has some good lines, and even gets the chance to kick some thugee butt. Ford, as usual, is fun, although he was better in Raiders, and even Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).

Spielberg's direction, however, is too frantic. The film belts along, and never lets the audience catch up. He never gives the audience a chance to enjoy a stunt, because the picture moves along too fast to let the audience enjoy it. It's a shame, because there are some good stunt scenes in there, including a amazing mine cart sequence. It's just on the first viewing, the audience will never catch up on them. Also, the script is weak. It's mainly just references to the first film (even though this is a prequel) and the dialogue between Indy and Willie is dud. The script only really works with scenes between Indy and Shorty, but they work more on the strength of the actors than the script. Also, the film is a bit too violent for young kids, the target audience. If your child can stand watching hearts ripped out and men crushed by rock crushers, they may enjoy this film.

It's not all that bad, though. Some of the action scenes are good, and the film has a great sense of humor. Some of the scenes made me laugh out loud. But, overall, it just isn't much fun. It's too dark, too eager to excite us, and Indy has hardly any character in this film. Temple of Doom, then, is disappointing, and the weakest of the Indiana Jones trilogy.

Copyright 1998 David Wilcock

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