Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ★★★


Identifiably a film written by the team that would go on to pen Howard the Duck, as opposed to the guy who'd go on to make Body Heat. Spends much of the first half busting its hump trying to be funny, and rarely succeeds; Capshaw's Willie out-insufferables even Jar Jar, while Short Round comes across like the love child of Opie and Kato. And let's not even get into the racism, which is "historically accurate" (in the sense that the serials that inspired this series were often cheerfully racist) but still largely indefensible. Thankfully, Spielberg was still at the height of his spectacle-engineering powers, so it never completely collapses into Crystal Skull uselessness, though even the most rousing moments prefigure the rollercoaster ethos that now utterly dominates blockbuster filmmaking (made literal, of course, in the stunningly choreographed mine chase). Much more than Jaws or Star Wars, this feels like the Beginning Of The End—all sensation all the time, forever hurtling to the next setpiece. Though that's still preferable to allowing Willie enough breath to whine some more.

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