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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Reviews

Page 1 of 1145
Edward B

Super Reviewer

February 5, 2007
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is nowhere near as good as its predecessor, Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it hasn't lost the sense of adventure that made that earlier film so iconic. Certainly the boundaries of realism and plausibility are stretched rather thin, but this sequel (actually a prequel since the events take place before the events in Raiders) is solid entertainment.
This time around, Indy finds himself narrowly escaping a botched attempt in China to retrieve a precious diamond. He ends up in India, where he is employed by a small town to find a stolen gem as well as a multitude of kidnapped boys. This endeavour is quite unsettling as the truth that Indy uncovers is not only mean-spirited but downright terrifying. Accompanied with a cast of popular Indian actors that add to this film's universal appeal, Temple of Doom is a fun adventure that will disturb and enthrall in equal doses.
KJ P

Super Reviewer

September 25, 2010
While not having as great a story as the original film, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" serves as a very entertaining picture towards this adventure franchise, which has lasted decades and deeply impacted cinema. I must say that the characters in this film are much more fun to watch, due to their silliness, and the direction is just as good as before. The story unravels, less interesting than the first, but the action is far more improved. This sequel is not one to miss if you are a fan of the first. I enjoyed the hell out of it, although it's not as original!
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

February 21, 2013
There's a great myth in filmmaking that stories with dark tones or subject matter are inherently more interesting than stories which are more light-hearted in premise or execution. People who've been following my reviews for some time might conclude that I agree with this sentiment, generally gravitating towards and heaping praise upon dark films like Killing Them Softly, Chinatown and We Need To Talk About Kevin.

But in the end, dark storylines are like any other aspect of filmmaking: they are brilliant and effective when they are done right. Darkness has to be justified every bit as much as silliness, and just being or going dark for its own sake can often make a film feel desperate and misjudged rather than impressive or deep. When it comes to action films there is no better example than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which pales in comparison to Raiders of the Lost Ark and still has its problems after nearly 30 years.

In hindsight it's not hard to see why Lucas and Spielberg decided to go dark with Temple of Doom. Like Star Wars before it, Raiders was a far greater success than anyone could have imagined, reviving Spielberg's career and leaving an indelible mark on popular culture. Any sequel (or prequel) would have a hard act to follow, needing to raise the stakes and deepen the characters in order to justify itself. Lucas and Spielberg knew that they couldn't just repeat the formula of Raiders, with the former outright rejecting any more stories about Nazis (for the time being).

In making Temple of Doom, Lucas and Spielberg tried to follow the template of The Empire Strikes Back, with more time being devoted to character interaction and much less of an overall quest. As with Empire, Lucas' involvement was confined to the story and production aspects, and so you cannot entirely blame Temple of Doom's failures on his creative input. The bigger problem is that the second instalments of each series serve very different purposes, responding to and addressing different aspects of their predecessors.

It made sense for Empire to be darker and slower because we needed something to believe that Luke, Han and Leia were more than just walking archetypes. We needed to believe that the Empire were not just a monster-of-the-week bad guy, who could be defeated by just blowing up the newest Death Star. The film succeeded because it gave us these things, adding bigger stakes while keeping the experience enjoyable. Indiana Jones, on the other hand, is a franchise whose appeal comes from the thrill of the chase, going through different locations discovering clues and getting into scrapes. It is possible to do character development, but it mustn't interfere with the pacing to such an extent that we start unpicking the plot.

This is where Temple of Doom comes unstuck, spending far too long setting things up and ultimately not delivering on the thrills until the last half hour. When Lucas and Spielberg saw the first cut, they both felt the film was too fast - something they rectified by letting certain scenes play out for longer, giving the story time to breathe. Without having seen the original cut, it's hard to know how much better it would have been, but as things stand the film is paced very inconsistently. The opening section feels baggy, the middle is just about right and the ending is a breathless rollercoaster that almost wears us out.

The opening of the film immediately sends alarm bells ringing, starting not with an action-packed quest or thrilling chase, but a musical number. As a director Spielberg can do many things; big musical set-pieces is not one of them. The whole opening is intended as a tribute to Busby Berkeley musicals of the 1930s, but all it does is bring back horrible memories of the jitterbugging scenes in 1941. It's a lot more coherent and has better choreography, but it still feels forced, as though Spielberg wasn't really sure what he was doing.

In terms of its characterisation, Temple of Doom is more rooted in the conventions of the fantasy genre. Short Round acts as Sancho Panza to Indiana's Don Quixote, following him everywhere out of chivalry and devotion, and often being bemused by the choices that he makes. But while Short Round is tolerable, Willie Scott is perhaps the single most annoying character in the history of the series. She is the damsel in distress turned up to eleven, spending the whole film either screaming, moping, preening or being rescued. Spielberg was quoted as saying that his subsequent marriage to Kate Capshaw is his only means of justifying the film (bear in mind: snakes, eyeballs and bugs won't always work on first dates).

The central problem with Temple of Doom is simple: it doesn't always feel like an Indiana Jones film. While you can understand Lucas and Spielberg not wanting to do a straight-up rehash of Raiders, they go so far against the grain that they lose sight of what made Raiders work so well. All the moments that are set up as funny are either inherently not funny or are executed in a slapdash manner. We do get some good humour, such as the bedroom scenes, but the food scene is far too gross and creepy to be funny.

In my review of Raiders, I mentioned that if you stopped for any length of time, you could start to notice aspects of the plot which don't add up. This wasn't a big problem, for the reasons I laid out, but it becomes a problem with Temple of Doom because we are never so involved in the story that we can avoid noticing them. While Raiders' plot functioned like a well-oiled machine, Temple of Doom is like a ghost train; different elements are thrown at us in quick succession without much attempt at narrative cohesion.

Some of the shortcomings can be written off as continuity errors, such as the reappearance of Indy's whip. Others are excusable on the grounds of shock value: we have no idea how a man can have his heart torn out and still live, but the experience is so striking that we overlook it. But most of the time, the shortcomings are downright idiotic - for instance, Indy escaping from the trance by being burned, in a cult based on burning people to death. While the original was hardly 2001, this is very much a 'leave your brain at the door' action movie.

We now come on to the delicate issue of racism - specifically the accusation that Temple of Doom is racist in its depiction of India and Hindu culture. As with Raiders, the B-movie territory dictates that the depiction of religion and culture are plot devices rather than dramatic details. But while it's not meant to be taken seriously, there was an effort made with Raiders to make the mythology both consistent and referential enough to have dramatic impact. In other words, even if it wasn't accurate, it made enough sense within the story so you could read into it without being offended.

In this case, we're dealing with a mishmash of names and symbols from Hinduism, voodoo and other religions. In creating a fictional cult, Spielberg is stereotyping a series of cultures as one for the sake of having easy-to-recognise bad guys. It isn't racist per se, insofar as it doesn't depict all Indians as backward devil worshippers, but it does unfairly exploit recognisable elements of these cultures, for no good reason other than to differentiate our heroes. Had Lucas and Spielberg simply made up a culture, taking things further into the fantasy genre, it might not have been so problematic (or uncomfortable to talk about).

In spite of all its problems, there are certain things about Temple of Doom which do still hold up. While the darkness of the plot ultimately works against the characters, the film still looks really good. Douglas Slocombe's cinematography is great, using carefully placed smoke, red light and wide angles to such effect that you'd never know you were looking at a sound stage. The Kali temple feels like a Hammer film on steroids, and for all the inconsistencies surrounding the cult itself, Mola Ram is still a terrifying villain.

The film is also entertaining as a piece of action. In the second half the pacing does pick up and the set-pieces begin to flow one from another every bit as wittily as the truck chase in Raiders. While the film as a whole feels like a fairground ride, you couldn't have shot the mine sequences in any other order; they make perfect sense and build to a famous climax. Even when it starts blatantly repeating Raiders (the sword vs. gun joke), it's such a marked improvement on the first half that we let it slide. If Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was very by-the-numbers and then lost its way at the end, Temple of Doom spends its first half trying to find itself and eventually ends up on firm footing.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a heavily flawed film, which deserves its reputation as the weakest and most problematic of the original trilogy. It is of some value both visually and for the spectacle, and it does steadily improve in its second half. But there's so much wrong with it, both technically and thematically, that it doesn't quite make the grade compared to Raiders or Last Crusade. In the end it's as flawed and entertaining as Crystal Skull - it has its problems, but it will not be your doom.
Samuel Riley
Samuel Riley

Super Reviewer

October 22, 2012
The story of Indiana Jones continues with this journey in 'The Temple of Doom'. Its still features most of the same qualities as its predecessor, except this time, Indiana battles against an extinct cult, in which even his own life is at extreme risk. While this won't have the same effect or recognition as 'Raiders of The Lost Ark', this installment has its perks and is a decent chapter in the life of the legendary adventurer.
Graham J

Super Reviewer

July 22, 2012
The second film in the series is much darker and more sinister than the first. Thought it has quite a few obvious flaws, when it works it works. The generic serial character of "Short Round" is the standout to me.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

December 23, 2010
Some consider it too dark and weaker than the other chapters, but this informal prequel is also another first-rate adventure, offering unstoppable action and plenty of fun as the character goes in a dangerous journey into the mystic to retrieve a powerful magic stone.
FilmFanatik
FilmFanatik

Super Reviewer

January 12, 2007
I've gone round and round in my mind about whether the sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark was good, if not better than the original. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is certainly a very well-crafted movie, but it doesn't have as much repeatability as the other films in the series do. I don't think it's because it's dark. It's actually not that much darker than Raiders, if you ask me. It's because it steps outside the story and is more of a prequel than a sequel, at least in story terms. Things like the font during the credits make it feel too different from the other films, and also the character of Willie Scott can be really annoying sometimes. Don't get me wrong here though. It's certainly a worthy film and definitely belongs in the franchise. It gives a new spin on the series but also gives a chance for Indiana Jones' character to be fleshed out a little bit more rather than just being the same guy from the first film. It's also more dramatic than your usual straightforward action adventure film. The special effects are pretty amazing too. It just doesn't sit right with me in certain spots. Even though it was derided critically upon release, it managed to be just as successful but stewed a bit of controversy because it's vastly different in tone from the first film. I still enjoy it despite its problems, but I think the mistakes made with this film were turned around in the sequel that soon followed.
Eric A

Super Reviewer

September 15, 2011
A little off the pace from the first, but still awesome. I liked the cinematography just as much, maybe more, compared to the first. What I didn't like was the amount of time spent on Willie. It seemed a bit excessive, and her screams/voice got annoying REAL fast.
ajaymuthecooldevils
ajaymuthecooldevils

Super Reviewer

May 28, 2006
After a huge success from the first movie, no doubt there will be a sequel for this movie and as a sequel, for me The Temple of Doom was much better than Raiders of the Lost Ark.. Probably Steven put more action scenes in this movie that makes my adrenaline rush faster than in the first movie.. Even the setting is limited, because Indy doesn't need to around the world so that makes the story more focused I thought.. Even so, not everyone like it because some thought the first one is still better.. Harrison Ford himself successfully reprising his role as Indiana Jones, while Kate Capshaw can replace the hole that been left by Karen Allen in the first movie.. Overall, I like it much better than the first movie, even though the original is irreplaceable..
cosmo313
cosmo313

Super Reviewer

June 9, 2006
This film definitely has it's moments, but this is, for me, maybe the least of the Indy films. Yeah, that's right, I liked "Crystal Skull" a tad more than this one, and it's considered part of the "classic" trilogy.

I think my main issues with this are that Kate Capshaw is too whiny, annoying, and contributes not as much as she could have, and that there are just some really silly moments (more so than normal for this type of thing) that make me wonder why people seem to love this but hate Crystal Skull. Did they forget that all of the Indy fims have silly moments? (yes, even Raiders and Crusade).

I like the adventures, and it's cool that they took a step away from Christianity for this outing, but it feels like this one is more pure adventure and goofy fun instead of being that, but still moving up to the level of art. It's like they just let this one coast instead of really working at it to make it awesome.

I do like this, but this one just feels a little slight to me (and there's no reason why it should).
Alexander D

Super Reviewer

June 14, 2011
Darker, worse than the original.
DreamExtractor
DreamExtractor

Super Reviewer

February 26, 2011
I found it a major disappointment to the first one, it was boring, dull, and I want to kick Short Rounds ass. I didn't like the idea of a prequel, and it had no other appealing moments other than Harrison Fords great performance. Didnt like it at all.
Chiefilms
Chiefilms

Super Reviewer

March 1, 2008
Short Round, what?

Update:

I really don't like this movie but it's fun to watch.
TheDudeLebowski65
TheDudeLebowski65

Super Reviewer

May 7, 2011
Second entry in the Indiana Jones franchise is a prequel to the events of Raiders Of The Lost Ark and The Last Crusade. The film is set in 1936 (As I think the intro of the film says) Indiana Jones crash lands in Inda and comes across a village where the inhabitants claim that something evil from Pancock Palace has captured their children. Indiana Jones decides to investigate and discovers a mysterious cult that worship the Thuggie. This second entry is memorable for many reasons two of which are the dinner scene and the heart ripping scene. Simply phenomenal. Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom is a welcomed change of pace, style and atmosphere.for an Indiana Jones film. The story will excite the most diehard fans of the films time after time, and everytime I watch Temple Of Doom I always am so thrilled even though I know what to expect. As far as sequels are concerned, Temple Of Doom is nearly flawless, but compared to Raiders, its not as solid a piece of cinem. But this film still offers the thrills and the excitement you'd expect from an Indiana Jones film. Probably one of the best scenes of the film is the mine car chase in the tunnels of the palace. That scene remains a staple of the film and is thoroughly exciting from start to finish no matter how often you see it. Only Spielberg could make a sequel as enjoyable as the first. The acting is good, but not great, but the strength of film is in its plot and action, and though its flawed at times, it's never dull or boring.
Movie Monster
Movie Monster

Super Reviewer

February 3, 2011
George Lucas wanted the second installment of the "Indiana Jones" series to be the darkest of them all, akin to "The Empire Strikes Back" in the "Star Wars" series. His goal was a success but this one was just not as good as "Raiders". In the film, Indy teams up with a nightclub dancer named Willie Scott and a little Asian kid named Short Round. After their plane explodes, they land in a small Indian village where there are no children in sight. Indiana discovers that the children have been enslaved by an evil cult and three magical stones known as the Sankara Stones will restore peace in the village. Indy, Willie, and Shorty embark on a quest to save the children, get the stones, and stop the evil cult. However, the way there is full of obstacles.

Child slavery, evil cults, this movie has "dark" written all over it. Lets not forget the stomach-churning feast and gory ritual scenes. The dark themes and gore is what throws off a lot of people about this movie. Conveniently, I have a thing for dark movies so "Temple of Doom" is enjoyable to me. The other problem is the story and campiness. I really find the fact that Indiana Jones teams up with a nightclub singer and a little kid who have no experience with archeology. But hey! I love campiness in films, but not "Batman and Robin" campiness. The story is creative but not entirely. This is set a year before the first film and lacks development. Beofre you go criticizing me, I've never seen an episode of "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles". I may have to watch that to satifsy my craving for development.

Stephen Spielberg's direction is really good. The cinematography is great and sets are great. The visuals and stunts are pretty good. The action sequences like the nightclub fight, the plane explosion, and the mine cart chase were awesome and put me on the edge of my seat.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

Before we wrap things up here, I wanna state that the villain's demise in the film was the weakest of the series. The Nazi's faces melt and explode in "Raiders", age quickly and rot to death in "The Last Crusade", and have their eyes catch on fire in "Kingdom of the Crystal Skuull". In this one, we just have them fall of a cliff and have their flesh torn out by gators. Gory, but lame.

**NO MORE SPOILERS**


It is no joke that this entry lacks the intelligence of the first installment. But on the bright side, "Indy 2" is fun, campy, and adventurous!

"Are you trying to develop a sense of humor or am I going deaf?"
AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 6, 2010
The classic sequel to the classic film Raiders of the Lost Ark. If you liked that movie, you should see this one and the last one too, they're all so great. I loved this movie, it's a great adventure.
sanjurosamurai
sanjurosamurai

Super Reviewer

January 9, 2007
the worst of the three and still fantastic
Dan S

Super Reviewer

June 25, 2007
While possessing a white-knuckle finale that is very Spielberg-like, this sequel's overbearing darkness and lead heroine's performance (the awful Kate Capshaw) drag this movie down considerably. Sure, it is exciting in stretches but the overall dark and disgusting aspects of this movie overwhelm the fun and imaginative side that made "Raiders of the Lost Ark" so enjoyable. Certainly not a horrible movie, but you could make the case that this is the worst sequel ever, considering how successful and awesome the first film was.
Spencer S

Super Reviewer

December 9, 2008
Yes, I do indeed stand behind this assesment. I've heard the cattle calls, the backhanded comments, and overegos berating this second film for it's differences from the other two exceptional films in the trilogy, yet I disagree. There were still action sequences fit to beat the band, elaborate storytelling, and chasing down an artifact. Just because there weren't any Nazis doesn't mean it's less of an Indy thriller.
theunknownhobo
theunknownhobo

Super Reviewer

November 16, 2010
Not the best Indie movie but acceptable apt.
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