Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Director: Steven Speilberg
The second movie in the Indiana Jones franchise, The Temple of Doom is honestly quite a mediocre movie. Compared to Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Temple of Doom, it doesn’t really compare in entertainment, and it didn’t age well. From a weak supporting cast, confusing plot, to even uncomfortable stereotyping, the only thing that saved this movie is that the action is good enough.
Did You Know…
Movie ratings used to be G , PG, or R, but with the gore and dark themes present in The Temple of Doom, the industry added more ratings to their scale. Thus, PG-13 was born.
In preparation for the newest Indiana Jones movie coming out, the three of us will be reviewing the remaining Indiana Jones movies. I was given the second one, The Temple of Doom, and honestly, I was quite underwhelmed. Having never seen any of the Indiana Jones movies as a kid, I watched these without nostalgia blinding my vision. And after watching this movie, I’m a bit confused on how this franchise got successful. The first movie was a classic, but this one kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. For some reason, it wasn’t as fun of a watch as the first one. I’m not sure how the next two movies are, but I do have to say, I’m quite disappointed in this one.
First thing’s first, I have to say that this movie doesn’t age well compared to the first one. I’m not sure what it is, but the way everyone was portrayed in this movie rubbed me the wrong way. I think the first scene that really threw me off was the banquet scene. I know that when you travel to foreign places, the difference in cuisine is palpable. You notice that right away. However, in this movie, the food presented felt a bit too far out there. I know there are places in the world that eat bugs and brains, but the portrayal of these foods could have been presented better.
So, getting into characters, this is probably the area where I have the biggest bone to pick. Out of all the movies I’ve watched recently, the supporting cast in The Temple of Doom felt really weak. None of them were likeable at all. Since I mentioned Short earlier, I’ll start with him. Accent aside, his actual character was boring. There was nothing he did that added to the story at all. Yes, he does save Indiana a few times, but any other character could have done that. When he’s not doing something useful, his addition seems weak. Throughout the movie, he mostly acts like a sassy know-it-all, which was not very fun to watch. Combine that with the way he talks and acts, it just wasn’t a pleasant thing to enjoy.
On the other hand, the female lead was awful too. I don’t know how the film industry was back in the 80s, but a damsel in distress type of character that does nothing but scream and cry was brutal. There are a few moments that are supposed to redeem Willie, but honestly, I couldn’t stand her. There wasn’t a single scene where her presence helped Indiana at all. As with Short, Willie does save Indiana, but that could have been replaced by any other character. Willie’s specific character didn’t add anything to the story either. The fact that she doesn’t do anything of value doesn’t help her case either. Yes, I understand that she’s supposed to be some famous singer that isn’t used to the rough lifestyle on the road, but the constant screaming and crying got annoying fast. Speaking of that, her relationship with Indiana makes no sense either. I never sense any kind of chemistry between the characters, then, all of a sudden, they’re kissing a lot.
The villains of the story aren’t sparred from this either. The actual villains of the story confused me. The Thuggees sound interesting on paper, but the way they worked together didn’t make too much sense. First off, the names villains felt like they came from nowhere. For one, Mola Ram was a weird villain. He didn’t get enough characterization to make me want to care at all for his plans. The other named characters that appeared during the feast didn’t get enough screentime when they were actual villains for any of it to make sense. I think the biggest offender to this has to be the Little Maharaja. His first introduction in the movie was to show he was the powerful leader, yet during the following scene, he gets relegated to the sidelines. Then when he comes back later, he has voodoo abilities. Which also feels a bit too far.
Speaking of that, the voodoo techniques he uses feel like they should have done more damage to Indiana. After getting stabbed with the knife on the doll, I feel like Indiana should have been incapacitated. But that’s besides the point. To wrap up characters, I feel like either they didn’t contribute enough to the story, or they came out of nowhere and named characters kept getting dropped everywhere. This movie has one of the weaker, or under utilised, casts I have seen in a while.
Final thing, the plot of the movie felt weak. The actual story involves Indiana stealing back a magic stone for a poor village. This in itself is a fun storyline to pursue. However, as the movie went on, the pacing of everything felt rushed, as things started progressing really fast. Things happened out of nowhere, or certain events weren’t given enough time to develop. Another part that confused me was the first scene in the movie, where Indiana is escaping from Shanghai. That partis what leads Indiana into the village, but that part could have been shortened to allow the later parts of the movie to develop.
Overall, The Temple of Doom was a bit of a disappointing movie. From the weak characters, confusing plot and flow, and the awkward use of stereotyping, I didn’t have that much fun watching this movie. Unless you’re a die hard fan of Indiana Jones, I feel like you won’t lose anything if you skipped this movie.