Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

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

"So what are you supposed to be, a lion tamer?"

When I think of Indiana Jones, this is the film that I imagine. Dire circumstances, huge action sequences, Indy running through the jungle... this is my Indiana Jones. I know that this is generally considered to be the worst of the original trilogy, but this is the film that I connected with the most as a kid. Sure, I saw all three films many times, but it's Temple of Doom that has stuck with me.

It's a little different viewing this film now than when I was a kid. When I was young, I really liked Short Round. He made this movie feel accessible to me with his childish viewpoint and mood-lightening quips. Watching now as an adult, Short Round is a little annoying at times but luckily I can look past those moments and enjoy the character nuances he brings out in Indy. Temple of Doom also really makes me miss Marion. In Raiders of the Ark, we had a strong-willed female character who drank and fought right alongside Indiana. This time around, we get the very weak (and constantly complaining) Willie whose sole purpose in the film is to bring more adult-oriented comic relief to balance out Short Round.

The funny thing is, up until very recently, I never realized that Temple of Doom was a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Looking back, it totally makes sense and the (seeming) lack of continuity with the first film was something that always bothered me, especially with regard to his rekindled romance with Marion. Viewing this film in a prequel light, it makes me enjoy it even more.

Even though the supporting characters are weaker this time around, I've always gravitated to Temple of Doom because of the story. The plot of this film has always interested me far more than any of the Nazi-centric storylines of the other Indy films. And while the dichotomous tone of this film might put others off, I always enjoyed it. It has a goofy lightness due to the supporting characters, but the central story is far darker and more dire than any of the other Indiana Jones films. Strange for sure, but incredibly entertaining.

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