Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ★★

After the huge success of Raiders of the Lost Ark three years earlier, this is the first sequel in the Indiana Jones franchise, and this time intrepid archaeologist Indiana Jones is ricocheted into a dangerous adventure in India.

The second entry in the franchise directed by Steven Spielberg may be considered a classic today, but it did receive a mixed critical reception when it was first released – and I can understand why.

With his realistic buddy Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan) and nightclub singer Willie Scott Kate Capshaw), Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) goes looking for the magical Sankara stone, and find out there is an ancient evil which looms all who come into interaction with it.

Harrison Ford gives an OK performance reprising his role as Indiana Jones, the archaeologist who this time isn’t as in much danger as he was in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He doesn’t perform the role as well, as to me, he appears to have other things on his mind. But the next time he played the part in the Last Crusade five years later, it’s a return to form for Indiana Jones.

Elsewhere, Kate Capshaw is OK in her part as Willie Scott, the nightclub singer who appears not to be enjoying the adventure she is supposedly on with Indiana. You can tell this because of the consistent number of screams she lets out, which doesn’t make for a tense atmosphere, when it really should. If Willie didn’t scream as much, this may well be have been as enjoyable as the first.

Also, Jonathan Ke Quan is OK as Short Round, Indiana’s assistant pal who helps him on the journey, while Amrish Puri is the priest Mola Ram who performs experiments of human sacrifices.

The direction from Spielberg is OK but it should have been better, such as showing more facial expressions to a stronger effect, as well as having more of a tense atmosphere happening – this doesn’t occur much and the script is written to an OK standard by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz.

I say OK because the narrative is there for most of the film – there are scenes that did not need to be in the final edit, so I do think the duration didn’t need to be 110 minutes long. I also believe that there is not enough tension as there was in the first, while the pace can be slow at times throughout.

However, it’s not all bad, because it’s the technical aspects that save this movie from being a disaster. The camera, music and visual effects all stand out best, because the camera makes good use of the locations, particularly with any sunny weather, while the music is again enjoyable to listen to and the visual effects are excellent.

The visual effects managed to win the Academy Award and BAFTA in those respective categories, whle John Williams got an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score. The British Academy also nominated the film for its camerawork, editing and sound, but the latter two I disagree with, as I don’t consider these outstanding.

In an interview Steven Spielberg did five years after this film was released, he said that he “was not happy with the Temple of Doom at all” and also said that “it is the least favourite of the trilogy”. I completely agree with him on this, while I also agree that Kate Capshaw said of her character “was nothing more than a screaming blonde”.

Overall, there is a narrative happening and the technical aspects are decent, but Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom doesn’t work due to the OK performances, direction, slow pace, long duration, lack of tension and a lack of action. The second weakest in the Indiana Jones franchise.

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