on 14 August 2014
Following on from the sublime "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was never going to be an easy feat. Fortunately, with a character as great as archaeologist adventurer Indiana Jones, director Steven Spielberg and writer George Lucas pull it off. Set two years earlier than the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark, this movie starts with a great Busby Berkeley type musical number in a Shanghai nightclub in 1936. A bungled diamond exchange with a Chinese gangster sees our hero escape that predicament by boarding a plane with his young sidekick Shorty, and Willie Scott, the club's spoiled American singer. Following a thrilling descent from the crashing plane, the trio find themselves in India, where they learn of a local village's plight due to a stolen good luck rock, and their kidnapped children. Believing the rock to be one of the lost Sankara Stones, Indy and his companions set out for Pankot Palace, and it is there that they learn of the sinister Thuggee cult, the titular "Temple of Doom", and the fate of the village children.
Ford has never looked better than he does in this movie, and epitomises the adventure-serial type hero. The story races along at breakneck speed, from one thrill to another, including a superb rollercoaster style chase set-piece down a mine in out-of-control carts, and a white-knuckle finale on a rope bridge across a gorge.
The set design of the Temple of Doom itself is fantastic, but a word of warning, the Thuggee cult is dark and sinister, and there are some gruesome moments that may be scary for younger kids. To the people who complain about Willie's incessant screaming, the character is a homage to those damsel in distress type characters of old serials.
Breathtaking, exciting, gripping. There aren't enough superlatives to describe what a great, old-fashioned ride this film is, and even now, 30 years later, it still holds up superbly against modern CGI laden pictures. 10/10
on 21 November 2003
After the success of Raiders of the Lost Ark, series creator George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg took the Indiana Jones series into its dark second installment, 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Written by American Graffiti's Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz and set in 1935 (making this film a prequel to the first film), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom takes its archaeologist hero (Harrison Ford) from a swank Shanghai night club to the rain forest of India as Indy, his orphaned sidekick Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) and his very reluctant companion Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw, who would later be Mrs. Steven Spielberg) go on a quest for an Indian village's sacred stone, which has been stolen by evil Thugee followers of the Kali cult.
Indy is at first reluctant to go on this quest for yet another mythical artifact, but when the villagers tell the archaeologist and his two companions that the followers of Kali, now based in Pankot Palace, have stolen their children, Jones agrees to pay the new Maharajah of Pankot a visit. His interest is peaked when a dying young escapee arrives at the village and hands Indy a scrap of cloth with a fragment of tapestry. Reading its Sanskrit inscription and by looking at the pictographs on the cloth, Indiana discovers that the villagers' sacred stone is one of five Sankara stones, left to men by the Hindu god Shiva. When a puzzled Short Round asks Indy what a Sankara stone represents, the professor/adventurer replies, "Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory."
But Indy's quest for "fortune and glory" takes a disturbing turn when the trio reaches Pankot Palace. The prime minister, Chattar Lal (Roshan Seth) appears to be just another Oxford-trained Indian bureaucrat, but in reality he's one of Kali priest Mola Ram's (Amrish Puri) lieutenants. Soon, Indy, Short Round and Willie go from honored guests to prisoners when they discover the goings-on behind the high walls of Pankot Palace.
Although Temple of Doom is an enjoyable adventure film, its dark tones (both in storytelling and visual terms) and a few gory scenes involving a really gross banquet and a human sacrifice made it the least favorite entry in the series. And even though it was rated PG, the criticism Temple of Doom received caused director Spielberg to be one of the advocates of the PG-13 rating that the Motion Picture Association of America created within months of the film's release.
Nevertheless, the film's action set pieces (some of them conceived for Raiders but left out for time constraints) are still thrilling, Spielberg's directing is top-notch and John Williams' 1930s-flavored score is, as always, brilliant. Although the other two films in the series are more fun and lighter in tone, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is still worth watching.
Just not, of course, right after dinner.