Flashback movie Friday: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Happy Friday, fellow sci-fi nerds! As promised, we are rolling on with the Indiana Jones saga and looking this week at the second instalment: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Unlike my experience with Raiders of the Lost Ark, I did remember snippets from this film, so I know I have seen it before. Still, those memories where nowhere near coherent enough for me to string any kind of plot together, so it was almost as good as watching it for the first time ever. Once again, I must say that I was very impressed with how well the special effects have held up on this film. I don’t know, maybe we have just gone too far with CGI in the current era, but I just love these old movies with their not quite realistic magical effects. It makes them far more fun.

Anyway, in this adventure, we once again find Indiana Jones, intrepid hero and sometimes professor of history/archaeology, stranded in the wilds of India; only this time, instead of an irate ex-lover and a delightfully jovial old friend, Indy is kept company by an orphaned Asian child and a blonde showgirl. The orphaned child is a sheer delight and provides the bulk of the comedic value of the film. The showgirl is a tiresome punish, but we will get to her later.

Unlike last time, in this adventure, Indy becomes the hero not in service of the government or for the benefit of his museum buddies – but for the benefit of an impoverished village who have had their children stolen, along with a rock/crystal, which is a source of power for them. The power of the rock is wrapped up with a few different strands of religion and mythology. Some well known Indian religious figures, such as Kali, figure into the plot, but then some of it is pure magical fantasy. That’s okay though, you won’t have much of a chance to really focus on that element of the plot – there’s too much action and too much noise going on.

I’ll come right out and say this: I did not like this chapter of the Indy story nearly as much as I liked the first one. I lay the blame for that squarely at the feet of Kate Capshaw.

See, unlike the delightful and feisty Marion Ravenwood of the first film, Capshaw’s Willie Scott is not cut out for any kind of adventure or heroism and as such, spends the majority of the film screaming, crying or scream/crying. Most exhausting. I almost think that Short Round (the orphaned child) was added in purely to balance out the fact that the love interest is so damned irritating. I get the fact that she is supposed to be this pampered showgirl that has never had a broken nail in her lift and I get that she is out of her element and is being forced (against her very strong will) to be brave… but for the love of everything holy! This woman has no sense of when to shut up! I don’t think there is a moment in the film, not even in the final credits, where she takes a moment to put things in perspective. She is far too busy focusing on herself and it is a pure let-down.

by this point in time, I think Indy is wanting her to end up in the lava pit. the sheer noise she produces must be giving him a migraine. 

Despite what dragging Willie around does to the pace and entertainment value of the film, I did love the scenes in the mine cart, towards the end, where the trio must make their daring escape. The fight scene on the rope bridge is also excellent, although the alligators that are chomping up all the bad guys might have benefited from more attention in the editing room. Still, it’s nothing to get precious about.

Also unlike the first film, the sequel doesn’t have as much international travel, but don’t be fooled into thinking that the isolated location means there is any lack of action – because there isn’t. Also returning in the sequel is Indiana Jones the fumbling hero; so once again we’re seeing silly errors that a man of his intellect should be far too smart (and debonair) to make. There’s a whole extended scene in the opening sequence where Jones and Willie are chasing a poison antidote and a diamond through the bustling cabaret where pandemonium has just erupted. This scene goes on so long that I wanted to headbutt the both of them before it was over. Then there is the whole set of circumstances that gets them stranded in India to begin with… come on, Indy, put two and two together…

side bar: can someone please confirm that it is Dan Aykroyd with the uncredited cameo during the escape from Saigon?

guess who is STILL screaming…

Once again, Indiana Jones has to have some kind of romantic entanglement with his leading lady… maybe it’s his way of shutting her up? After all, it is hard to whinge when you’re sucking face with the handsome Doc Jones, but damn it, Willie puts up a strong effort. Maybe he is just taking what he can get since certain death seems to be around every corner? Maybe he needs to balance his supreme intelligence with being a cad? Anyway, I didn’t like this match from minute one. I can see what they were trying to do – making her feisty and a bit more sexually available than Marion was in the first film (trust me, there’s no thinking that Willie is the kind of girl that wants to settle down for love or that she will be holding a torn for Jones a decade after their relationship inevitably implodes), but I think she was just too annoying and the chemistry wasn’t there between Capshaw and Ford. The scene at the end where he wraps his whip about her waist and drags her towards him (kicking and whinging) feels more like Jones is wanting to punish himself than anything else. I mean, come on Indy, do you hate yourself? Get home and romance one of the dozens of buxom co-eds that are darting about just dying for you to notice them. At least they’ll be quiet.

All things considered though, I found this to be an enjoyable film (it is very long though… or seems long). It’s not something I would put on high rotation in my house and I am always going to dislike the constant whining of Willie, but at the end of the day I would happily revisit it if the mood and setting were right.Maybe a decade from now I will nostalgically watch it again… okay, half a decade.

it wont last

it’ll never last, Indy. You’re still a dick and she’s more work than any man should have to suffer.

This brings us to instalment three of the original series and, purely through my deductive powers, it is this instalment where the bulk of my hazy memories MUST be coming from. I am excited!

See you next week, my darlings, when we look at Indian Jones and the Last Crusade!


One comment

  1. swanpride · August 26, 2016

    I never understood why fans of the franchises give this one a pass. Yeah, there are a few good action scenes in it, but the characters are either annoying or downright racist. And the constant screaming is kind of insulting. I mean, the fourth movie does fall apart in the end (aliens? Really?) but at least it is not through and through offensive.


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