Good morning, and welcome back!
Today I’m adding #7 to my list that ranks the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies.
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984)
Sadly, I never saw this in the theater. I’m not sure if my parents had caught wind of the ripping-out-the-heart scene and decided to pass on it, or if we just didn’t get around to going.
I can’t remember why we didn’t go, but I did order a junior novelization from a school book club, so I knew the story, and there were tons of pictures in the book as well. I loved the book and read it over and over.
The first time I saw the movie was a few years later when we rented a VHS tape for the evening.
I don’t have any specific memories of watching it for the first time, but I do remember there was a family consensus that we didn’t care much for it, mostly thanks to Willie Scott. Willie was less annoying in the junior novelization, so I figured I was fine just sticking with the book, and didn’t see the movie again until 2003 when Paramount released an Indy DVD box set.
The DVD market had been gaining momentum for the last three or four years, and it was terribly exciting to finally have Indiana Jones on a higher quality format than our RAIDERS and CRUSADE VHS tapes.
And when I finally saw TEMPLE OF DOOM again, I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Here’s what I like:
The beginning at Club Obi-Wan (ha!) is a total blast!
The airplane bit is a ton of fun!
(Though there were easier ways for the bad guys to do away with Indy, without sacrificing their plane and parachuting out in the middle of nowhere. But who cares?! It’s still a fun moment in the movie!)
I like the plot of needing to get the stone back for the village.
It takes place in a cool, exotic location.
The palace dinner is quite fantastic!
Love the bugs and that trap with the lowering ceiling and spikes!
An ancient palace with secret tunnels that lead to a large cavern where an evil cult does unspeakable things? An exciting premise, for sure!
Gotta love Mola Ram as an all-time great villain!
And that bridge sequence at the end!
So why doesn’t DOOM fly as high as RAIDERS and CRUSADE?
Just like in CRYSTAL SKULL, Indy has a supporting-characters-problem in this film.
Willie Scott is very annoying for most of the movie.
And I have mixed feelings about Short Round. He does have some funny moments: being caught cheating at cards, jumping on the bridge while saying “Very safe!” and then falling through, and lines such as “Maybe he like older women.”
But having such a young kid along for an Indiana Jones adventure seems kind of… off.
The part when Short Round is whipped – that’s just way too dark. I don’t want to see such a young kid in this kind of danger – even in a movie.
While I love the first hour and ten minutes of the film (minus Willie), once Indy is caught by Mola Ram and friends, the entertainment value of the movie drops off for the next 30 minutes or so.
I don’t feel all that engaged with the story when Indy is brainwashed and almost lowers Willie into the lava. All that underground action – rescuing the kids, the voodoo doll, the rail car chase – all of that is just okay for me. I don’t love it like I love most Indiana Jones action scenes. Thankfully, the movie does end strong with that bridge.
But still, from the time Indy is captured until they’re outside and heading to the bridge, that’s roughly 30 minutes – a significant portion of the film that is just okay, and not great.
That said, TEMPLE OF DOOM is a good, solid entry in the Indiana Jones series. We get to see Harrison Ford in his prime as Indiana Jones – that alone counts for a lot. The first 70 minutes and climax on the bridge are very strong. And it’s a bold and unique sequel to RAIDERS that didn’t just copy the RAIDERS formula like CRUSADE did.
#7 The Temple of Doom
#8 Revenge of the Sith
#9 Rogue One
#11 The Phantom Menace
#12 The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
#13 The Last Jedi
#14 Attack of the Clones