Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ★★★★

I’m a massive Indiana Jones fan. Always have been. For some reason, there’s been a stigma around Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, at least around me. After this viewing, I’ve realised this movie is extremely entertaining and although not as radical as it’s predecessor, still a good film about a great character. 

Unlike Raiders of the Lost Ark and Last Crusade, Temple of Doom tries a new formula of archaeology film; the protagonist being accidentally thrown into a quest. In this movie, Indy finds himself in India and at the mercy of a township requesting his assistance to find a stolen, protective stone. Indy, a false-god to these people, sets off on his new-found journey. 

One of the gripes audiences have/had with this movie is this change in formula. However, when I think of Indiana Jones, I don’t picture a guy fighting Nazis and tracking down Christian artefacts. I picture an archeologist fascinated by all history, who knows how to handle himself. For some reason, the backlash received at the time was around the lack of Christianity and fascism, which I think is ridiculous. George Lucas and the rest of the writing team took an important leap in the character’s development, and this accidental journey allows for further insight into Indy’s fascination at archeology and all cultures. 

For a film of its time, Temple of Doom doesn’t have the worst takes on sub-continent stereotypes, although there are some blatant ones. I hated having to watch elephants be chained and dragged around for our white heroes and the extravagant and over-exotic meals our protagonists are served by Indian royalty are extremely out there and unfairly stereotypical. Short Round has a few moments of dialogue and humour that are a bit on-the- nose as well. However, the writers did a good job at highlighting poverty and environments in countries of the South. Temple of Doom strayed from the formula and the intentional 1930s action hero serials the first and third films adapted, and I think it worked out for the better. 

The action in this movie was very fun. The famous mine-cart chase of the third act was incredibly enjoyable and very well-made. The opening scene’s all-over-the-place feel and ensuing car chase were extremely entertaining and Spielberg played on one of the best elements of Raiders successfully. The opening scene as a whole, specifically the dance number behind the credits, was a great homage to 30s musicals and is an excellent way to start your film of stereotypes/homages. 

Finally, the middle of the film falls apart a little bit, with a lot of the narrative taking unneeded twists and turns. A lot of plot devices aren’t explained, which makes for skeptical viewing. Some of the special effects look a bit dated today, although some shots definitely stood out as impressive. 

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a fun, entertaining and dark movie. Yeah, don’t watch this one with the kids. Pretty cooked.

4/5 Cornflakes 

(Also, you people saying Han Solo and Indy are the same character are cooked as).

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