The Temple of Doom

The second movie in the Indiana Jones series is certainly an interesting one, but it brings up a few questions as well. While it was a great movie, I don’t think it was as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark.

First off, the movie starts with the whole “Anything Goes” sequence. While I appreciate the use of the scene to introduce us to Willie as a character in the movie and as an opportunity to get all the initial credits out of the way, the sequence doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the movie. The rest of the scene in the nightclub only advances the plot a little bit, but being the beginning of the movie, my guess would be that it was a great way to ease into the movie, unlike in Raiders where you had spiders and skeletons within the first ten minutes.

Fortunately, we leave the nightclub and head in a car driven by Short Round to the airport and a flight out of Shanghai operated by the same guy we were just dealing with in the nightclub. That leads us towards the main plot of the movie – a crash landing into India, and the search for the stone.

However, there is a major problem – poor special effects. I’ll try to explain it in words, but a video would really help here. Unfortunately, I’ve tried to upload the clip three times now and I’ve had no luck, so here goes 😉

The first problem is that when the plane crashes into the mountain, you see the fireball, but there isn’t much evidence of the plane crashing apart. I know it’s being picky and pedantic, but it’s just not convincing. Then, as they go down the mountain in the snow, the raft has this magic quality of constantly changing colors between bright yellow and dull yellow. Back and forth, and really no purpose to it. Then, you see the raft hit the dirt, but fortunately they thought of throwing some dirt in front of the raft to make it seem like they were on dirt.

However, where that didn’t go too well, the rest of the movie was quite good, especially, as in with Raiders, mixing the adventure and the creep-you-out factor. Particularly when Willie is trying to get the trap room to stop closing in on Indy and Shorty and she has everything crawling around and on her, then having to reach through the bugs and things to hit the lever is sensational and freaky.

Another great “creepy” moment is when they’re presented with the meal in the dining hall. With everything from snakes filled with eels to claimed monkey brains, it’s everything a horror film could have asked for. Lest we forget that there were also the scenes where you have Mola Ram pulling hearts out of people which then spontaneously combusts when the hapless victim hits the molten rock below the platform.

While I could go into a full discussion of child labor, I’ll just leave it at it’s wrong, especially if they’re being chained up in order to do the work.

A couple of questions –
– Since the movie was set in 1935, we know that it’s a prequel to Raiders. In that case, what happened to Short Round and Willie? Did they fall off of the face of the earth?
– When was the auto-inflating plane raft invented? I would have sworn that those were invented after 1935.

All in all, it was a really good movie. It did seem to move a bit slow at times (particularly the opening scene). But like I had said at the outset, I liked Raiders more than this one, but both are definitely on the list of movies you need to watch at least once.

4 thoughts on “The Temple of Doom

  1. Sephy,
    I could watch Raiders, or Last Crusade multiple times, but I’m quite ambivalent about Temple. I guess the plot didn’t grab me. But like you said, ya have to see it once, if only to have seen the trilogy.
    – Aurelius

  2. The opening sequence doesn’t really fit because it’s just there to showcase Kate Capshaw’s awesome talent. Plus, she was Spielberg’s new wife at the time. Love’ll do that to you. Plus she probably wouldn’t shut up about being in the movie (or so I like to think).

    The dining hall sequence was, I think, a little nod to Faces of Death. People eat monkey brains in that.It was faked, but in the late 70s it was all the rage and seemed like the realest thing ever.


  3. Aurelius – I wasn’t grabbed by the plot really either – I just didn’t “feel” it – part of it is, I suspect, that it was set only one year before Raiders, and you would have expected the plotlines to somehow mix together…I dunno, really.

    Snos – I think Last Crusade is going on my todo list for this week, since I don’t have the Wings to watch anymore… 😉

    Cugat – It wasn’t a bad sequence, it just didn’t fit in the movie. 😉 Though, yeah, she probably lobbied hard to get a role..

    Thanks y’all 😉

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