Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Got some flaws.

I wish I could say, oh yeah, all of those Indiana Jones films were amazingly flawless accept for that hunk a junk fourth film…but I can’t. Not without feeling like I’ve at least somewhat fibbed a little. The truth of the matter is that I don’t feel that way. I even live in Indiana, and I don’t feel that way. Honestly, for me the Indiana Jones series touches and goes from “Holy moly, that was incredible!” to “well…it had some memorable scenes, at least.”. Overall, the series beats the odds and has us ultimately remember the good parts, and for a series to pull that off is something else. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is one of the films in the series that I couldn’t care less if I saw only once, but like I mentioned above – it has its moments.

Indiana Jones is back…or…is introduced this time around…you see, this film is technically a prequel. Most people won’t even catch that it takes place before Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it does indeed. That being said, the fact that it’s a prequel is more or less irrelevant in the long run. It doesn’t make the fact obvious nor hinges on that fact in order to survive. It works as a standalone project, and that flies by a-okay with me. Getting back on track, Indiana Jones is flying on a plane with a woman named Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) and a random Chinese kid named Short Round (Jonathon Ke Quan). When the plane goes down, a few people from India see that as some kind of sign and task Indiana with finding their holy stone that had recently gone missing. A stone that kept their city at peace. So off Indy goes into what can only be described as Hell and back, to retrieve this sacred stone.

So I’m not so fond of this one. There are things I really like about it, and things I really don’t. First for the things I do like: Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones – there’s no doubt in my mind that no one else can play the role so cunning, sarcastic, and adventuring as he. He brings things to the table that you wouldn’t mind seeing time and time again. He’s quick with comebacks, romantic, serious when need be, and can kick some major tail. Like I said, he’s Indiana Jones. Next, the tone of the movie is still relatively the same thing. There’s a lot of action, adventure, and fantasy to go around, stretching just enough into the unbelievable to blend nicely with the realism. Finally, those themes of preservation and doing the right thing are solidly still in place. There’s nothing bad to be said here.

Now onto the bad. When it comes to Temple of Doom, I couldn’t really care less for the story. When I think of Indiana Jones, I don’t only think of the character and his ability to get out of tight situations and figure out puzzles; I also think about the story, and how it can relate to audiences everywhere. The first and third film in the franchise deal with a very well-known story…biblical, yes, but I don’t think it needs to be biblical, just well-known. Something like Atlantis or the Golden City. Yes, I’m borrowing from things that have already been done, but in 1984, they haven’t before, so they actually had some good options that they didn’t take. What they did here is pick out something little to no one has heard of. I don’t know if it’s a real legend, or just something stereotypical, maybe even racial, but how I see it…is forgettable.

The movie is also really dark, and scary. This is one of the main films that pushed for the creation for PG-13, in fact it was after this film that Steven Spielberg himself suggested a new rating be put into the MPAA book. I’m not exaggerating when I say he seems to have gone to Hell and back. There is some dark stuff here, complete with human sacrifices, possession, fire, and voodoo dolls. I don’t have anything against that in general, but when it comes to Indiana Jones, forgive me for saying this, but it just felt out of character. Maybe it’s my spoiled memory of the amazing Indiana Jones flicks out there and maybe I have a reasonable argument…who knows.

Next…the casting was a little ridiculous. Outside of Harrison Ford…I’ll be wanting to forget, if I haven’t already forgot all of the other actors on screen. Both sidekicks were among the most annoying I have ever seen on film. They wine, they get in the way, they won’t shut up, it’s a disaster. Beyond that, I don’t even get why they are there in the first place. The woman was a random singer in the beginning of the flick, and the kid was a random kid. Not really characters that Indiana would hire and work with…they are just randomly there for no other reason but to get in the way.

However, there are some very good and memorable scenes that shouldn’t be looked over. The collapsing room, collapsing bridge, and even the whole sacrifice and possession sequence were all highly memorable, among others. Like the other films in the series, they are still referenced to the day in other media all around the world. And in good taste.

So yes, I had my own list of issues with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but I respect it highly for going all out and doing the best with what they had, which was honestly a weaker script than its highly successful predecessor.

2 thoughts on “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

  1. Agreed, especially on the point about casting. That Spielberg misfires so badly on the sidekicks is a tad surprising. He usually gets dynamic performances out of his actors. He doesn’t here.


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