Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ★★★½

The second round of Indiana Jones adventure comes in the form of The Temple of Doom. What surprised me about this sequel (really a prequel, set two years before the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark) was how it's one long story from start to finish. Meaning I was waiting for about twenty minutes for the beginning to end, much in the same vein as Raiders, which started out with a mini adventure, before getting to the main plot. This same format is also used in almost every James Bond film, we get thrust into an escapade, see it resolved in the opening sequence, then our hero returns home to gear up for the main event.

Temple of Doom opens up with Indy in Shanghai, where he escapes from a group of Chinese gangsters, which could arguably be seen as the opening, unrelated sequence, but then he flies straight into India and falls right into a new quest. I had no problem with this, it just threw me off slightly as I was waiting for a return to the US and more back story on what would be the main plot.

Along for the ride this time is a young boy called Short Round, Indy's sidekick, played by Jonathan Ke Quan. He's a source of annoyance to a lot of fans of the franchise, but I loved him, he had great energy, bounced of Harrison Ford really well, and was pretty funny too. The new love interest for the world weary traveller however, was not quite as convincing. Kate Capshaw portrays "Willie" Scott, a very attractive but annoying entertainer who got caught up in the action in Shanghai.

She whines, screams, and is a prima donna in general. Which was the intention, and provides some funny moments with Indy and Short Round reacting to her. There's a moment when the three are on a plane that is about to crash into the mountains as the pilots have jumped off with the last parachutes. Willie is the first to discover the lack of pilots and simply states "Oh no..." in a fairly faint way that just felt so underwhelming for the situation. Later on she gets dumped off an elephant into a puddle. The stunt performer did a good job crash landing into it, completely submerging themselves in the muddy water. Yet in the next shot, Kate Capshaw is sat in the puddle, with perfectly dry hair. It gave the impression that up until this point (about half an hour into the movie) the actress herself was a prima donna, and wouldn't scream, let alone get her hair wet.

However, later on she did a fine job of screaming, showing fear and even did a scene where she was covered in thousands of bugs. So I have no idea why her performance seemed to be lacking in the first half but came around again in the second. It still wasn't enough to say she was a good link in the film though.

Right, off that huge tangent, the actual story involves Indy going to a palace in India to retrieve a stolen stone from a village he comes across. The village is dying because of the lack of this all powerful stone, and Indy, always the skeptic, is forced to help out. The majority of the film takes place inside the palace and deep underground in the catacombs of, presumably, the titular temple of doom.

The production design, coupled with on location work again makes for a tangible, fun world to watch on screen, with another great John Williams score to back it all up. What doesn't work so well is the lack of variety. Bar ten minutes in Shanghai, the whole movie takes place not just in India, but in one location. Which is fine for some films, but when you're coming off the globe trotting Raiders of the Lost Ark, it seems to diminish the scope somewhat.

The villains too, lacked a little, though that's in keeping with the tradition of the classic adventure films of old anyway. There are some much more ridiculous moments too, and like the first, some fairly dark stuff. I'm still on the fence about that aspect of the movie. There's also a few really weak parts such as one of the villains sudden and unconvincing change of heart. It was still very enjoyable to me, with some really memorable moments, a delightfully fun finale, and a fitting, if lower end, addition to the franchise.

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