WillFilm’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Temple of Doom, the "darker" sequel to the Indiana Jones movies (even though technically it is a prequel...I would not have guessed that it is a prequel if the year was not stated). As of late Temple of Doom has gotten more love than it used to get, but I disagree with that for quite a few reasons. When you look past the points about this movie being "darker" and "different," its shallowness shows.
I used parenthesis around the word darker because it isn't exactly darker. Yes it has more violence and gore than the first, but at the same time Indy has two comic relief sidekicks. It's like they thought, parents won't want to take their kids to see this movie, it's too dark! We need to add a kid character so the kids can relate and the most stereotypical blonde damsel in distress since 1933's King Kong. I hated Short Round as a kid, and I hate him just as much now; but Willie takes the cake as one of the worst sidekicks ever, she is up there with Jar Jar and the wife from Jurassic Park 3. I also didn't buy Willie and Indy's chemistry at all. How does Indy like her? She is a whiny gold digger who can't do anything on her own. Indy even groans about this in the movie. The fact that she is pretty is all that we are going to go on? Alrighty then! I believed the chemistry between Marion and Indiana in the first one. They had a relationship beforehand, she was cunning and feisty, and pretty "un-ladylike" considering the time period the movie was set in. Indiana Jones would totally go for a woman who was uniquely soft but strong.
I also used parenthesis around the word different because on a surface level, the plot isn't really different. Indiana loses a fight over an artifact that he got, escapes on a plane, goes to a poor town where he learns in detail where to go next, he searches for the artifact with fabled power that the enemy wants to use, gets the artifact, fights over it and the power of the artifact is what caused the villains death in the end; Indy wins and gets the girl! Many of the plot points in the movie are from 1930's action movies, making it very campy and cliche. Raiders of the Lost Ark was five steps forward for the action adventure genre, Temple of Doom decides to go 10 steps back towards old cliches that don't work anymore. Cliches of savage Indians and weak female roles. So I do not get the point that people love to make that this movie is so different. The rushed plot is certainly different. Btw, great portrayal of India...Frozen monkey brain for dessert...really??? That's a thing in China and Africa...not Northern India.
I do have a few positives with the movie. That beginning sequence is amazing. I LOVED that this movie opens up with a musical number, it added a unique touch and was very entertaining. The action is very well directed. Spielberg knows what he is doing, even if a couple action set pieces are a little ridiculous. Harrison Ford is great again, the villain is menacing, but that's really it when it comes to characters...
I am disappointed in Temple of Doom, however I am glad I took the time to re-watch it to reconfirm my thoughts. Because unlike Raiders and Last Crusade, I have not re-watched this movie since the first time I saw it.