Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ★★★

Maybe the strongest example of a project where the best of Steven Spielberg’s formal instincts collide with the worst of his (and George Lucas’s) narrative instincts. It’s full of unbelievably well-composed action sequences and physical comedy, yet also incredibly mean-spirited, stereotypical, and annoying on multiple levels. So much of this movie is extended torture sequences, and you have to assume that the director gets some enjoyment out of putting his audience through a fraction of the creepy-crawly hell that he puts his characters through. It’s a fascinating cultural object with high highs (Short Round!) and very low lows (Willie, almost everyone else) and so much to untangle.

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