Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Year: 1984
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: George Lucas (story) Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz (screenplay)


As a child this was my favorite of all the Indiana Jones films, but as an adult I see it as the weakest of the original three.  It has more of a James Bond feel to it that makes it too campy for an Indiana Jones film at times.  Having a child side kick and the most annoying woman in the world tagging along also give this movie a bit of a silly tone that I think brings it down.  This tone doesn’t fit in as well with the rest of the franchise as both Raiders and The Last Crusade were much more serious films.  I see this as the Indiana Jones that George Lucas was given way too much creative control over, and until the most recent edition it was the weakest of the franchise. I also think there are several things in this movie make me ask questions about what Spielberg was thinking when he made the movie.

Harrison Ford is great as usual in the role but his supporting cast does tend to take away from his cool factor in this one.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it is awesome that Indy is friends with one of the Goonies, but “Short Round” is a poor substitute for the badass Marion Ravenwood.  It’s one thing to have him driving the getaway car in the beginning but quite another to have him tag along the whole movie.  Indy just doesn’t seem quite so much a badass when he is fighting side by side with a preteen child.  Not only was “Short Round” a bad edition to the film but Indy’s love interest is awful. I mean no disrespect to Spielberg because Kate Capshaw is his wife, but she is horrible in this one.  She has a very whiny tone to her voice that isn’t helped by the fact that she is screaming for the majority of the movie. I think it was a horrible decision to have such a great female character like Ravenwood in Raiders followed by the hopeless and helpless Capshaw.

I see this movie as having too much creative control from Lucas because so much is so wrong with the story; naturally Lucas is the one I am inclined to blame.  There are so many things about this movie that are just weird.  What’s up with the sudden tap dancing routine at the beginning of the movie? Why do they make the Indians look so barbaric and uncivilized during the dinner scene? I am fairly certain that on the other side of the world they don’t actually dine on live snakes or monkey brains, much less eyeball soup. What’s up with the strange burning spot they are lowering people into during the ritual scenes? Are these burning pits something common in India? Somehow I doubt it. Why is the rail cart system in the mines set up like a roller coaster? Seems inefficient for production to me, how do you transport your goods when they are traveling at such high speeds?

I do think the scene in which Indy chops the rope bridge in the end is one of the best in the movie, but why does Mola Ram continue walking up the bridge even as it is completely obvious what Indy is about to do? Mola Ram is one of the saving graces of this film as far as I am concerned.  He is such a great bad guy.  He has wicked head gear and he literally rips the hearts out of people.  Can a bad guy get any better? I also like that monster Indian that Indy fights in the mines, really good find when casting the villain’s henchman.

This movie may be a bit much to stomach as an adult but it was my absolute favorite as a child.  It’s so exaggerated and exciting that it filled all my wildest expectations as a really young child.  They literally jump out of plane in a raft and that’s only the beginning of the wild ride.  From the point of view of a five year old that is pure awesomeness.  This isn’t the best of the Indiana Jones movies but it’s still Indiana Jones, and that makes it worth your time.  These are classic movies.


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