It’s Thursday, so that means it’s time for Flicksided to take a journey to the past for some Throwback Thursday movie memories.
Believe it or not it’s been 30 years since Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom premiered in theaters. The second Indiana Jones film, a prequel to the smash hit Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Temple of Doom has long been considered the weak link of the original trilogy. The sophomore slump. The misfire. The worst of the trilogy.
However, compared to the most recent Indiana Jones effort, 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I would argue that there is a lot to love about the Temple of Doom. Is it a better film than Raiders or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Not in my book. But is it a unique mixture of a musical, an action adventure, and a slapstick comedy, with a little horror element thrown in? Absolutely – and for many viewers (including myself) that’s part of the film’s charm.
The opening musical number in the night club is a bit random but is none the less very entertaining, especially at the time of the film’s release, as big screen musicals were in very short supply. The scene where Kate Capshaw is covered in bugs still makes me shiver when I think about it. The entire film has a kind of crazy, bizarre feel to it – some audience members (and critics) were confused and annoyed by the camp factor it had, while others were more than happy to go along for the ride.
Harrison Ford does a great job rolling with the punches throughout the film which saves it from its many faults. Never underestimate the power of a charming leading man. The audience expects Ford to be dashing and witty and have the ability to get out of sticky situations with a smirk and a smile. And Ford delivers.
Capshaw’s “love interest” character was somewhat of a failure compared to the stronger, more interesting (well-written) Marion Ravenwood character in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Capshaw herself reportedly later called the character “not much more than a dumb screaming blonde.” However, the blame Capshaw received from some critics for dragging down the film I think is undeserved. To me this is a case of an actor doing the best they could with what they were given (not a lot).
The Temple of Doom starts off in a Shanghai night club and ends up in a small village in India. On their adventures Indiana Jones, with Capshaw and Ke Huy Quan (as his young sidekick Short Round), escape a Shanghai crime boss, survive a plane trip that ends with a white water rafting thrill ride, and come face to face with a human sacrificing/child enslaving cult that has stolen a mystical stone from the small Indian village.
The depiction of India and its culture was so extreme (you might get the impression all Indians worshipped cults and ate monkey brains after watching the film) and offensive to India that they temporarily banned the film after it was released.
The tone of the film is darker and the film is more violent than I think it needed to be, yet I still enjoy watching the The Temple of Doom in part because of it’s overall wacky style and over-the-top moments. I have a vivid memory of watching Doom in the theater and being so delightfully scared at one point that I jumped in my seat and lost some of my popcorn over the balcony. It’s those kind of moments that stick with you about a film, sometimes more so than the quality of the dialogue or the development of the characters.
Love it or hate it – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is an intriguing film to revisit. You can shake your head and say “no wonder this film is credited with bringing about the PG-13 rating” for it’s violence and darkness, or decide to enjoy the thrill of the action scenes and humor Ford brings to the movie.
What are your thoughts on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? A fun nostalgic action adventure or something best left in the past?