Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ★★★★½

Never quite understood the accusations that this movie is racist. Yeah there’s the dinner scene, I know eyeballs, live snakes and monkey brains aren’t a part of your typical indian diet, but we found out later that everyone at that table is a fucked up cultist. In my mind it’d be like if you called Raiders and Last Crusade xenophobic towards germans for how they villainize the nazis. It seems innocent in it’s intentions, but I don’t know, maybe my perspective isn’t the right one to comment from. Any indian friends want to chime in?

It isn’t as clever or emotionally poignant as Raiders or The Last Crusade, but it compensates with sheer audacity. It’s dark, violent, vastly different in setting and tone, and very unapologetic about what it is. If you reduce the script to it’s skeletal level the formula is pretty similar to those other two movies, but judging based on events that actually happen, it’s crazy. There’s such a range to this movie, we go from this lighthearted opening musical number in Shanghai (which I just realized is mostly non-diegetic, nobody in the club can see behind that curtain) and slapstick shenanigans with Willie and Short Round, to violent human sacrifices and the abuse of child slaves, to shootouts with the chinese mafia and minecart chases, all in the same movie. It’s constantly moving forward from one batshit crazy set piece or situation to the next, at no point is it ever not entertaining. And it’s all driven by that ingenious building of suspense that props up the other movies. It’s sad to hear Spielberg self deprecate whenever he talks about this film, it really is some peak blockbuster filmmaking.

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