Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Evening readers. Taking the helm today is your friendly neighbor Sentinel editor Alan Trehern. You’re probably all expecting some outrageous science fiction movie review, but today is not your day. Today, we have a treat! Ben has asked me to review the 2nd installment of the Indiana Jones series, The Temple of Doom.
Many of you may not be a fan of this chapter, but you have to give it a break. TOD had to try to fill the shoes of its predecessor, Raiders of the Lost Ark, so they placed Indy on t’other side of the world in eastern Asia, a place of mass danger and intrigue. But I digress; let’s get to the movie.

It begins with a bow to the James Bond openings of old as Indy makes a dangerous trade with Chinese crime-lord Lao Che; but while things are looking good for our favorite archaeologist, they immediately start to take a turn for the worst. We soon find that not only is Indy lost in the mountains of India, he has been accompanied by the annoying Willie Scott and the extremely unnecessary character of Short Round. I watched the entire movie, and Short Round’s presence could have been completely removed and the movie would NOT have suffered.

As far as character development goes, Indiana faces his primitive human emotions: the greed and lust of fortune and glory versus helping a poor and starving Indian village. Not only is he met with internal struggles, but TOD pushes Indy to the physical edge as well. Almost every scene contains Jones bashing skulls, drinking the blood of the Thugee, voodoo torture, large bearded guards on a rock-flattening belt, and much, much more. Indiana is faced with the usual physical feats in every film, but I think this one takes the cake.

Willie Scott, the singer and girlfriend of Lao Che, just serves as eye-candy, because whenever she opens her voice, I immediately want to put a gun to my chest. Team STFU has nothing against her. Seriously, Spielberg, you dated this braud? You must have the patience of a rock. In any case, she followed this role with Susanna McKaskel in the made-for-TV movie The Quick and the Dead (1987) opposite Sam Elliott, where she was more eye-candy for the traveling, woman-stealing, all-around bad ass Con Vallien. Check it out.

Although the natives of India were sometimes hard to understand, their emotional and life-like acting made the movie all the more real for me. I actually started to wonder if these were actors or real people dying of hunger and sorrow. It makes you think that out there somewhere things are really like this, and that only these small acts of help (i.e. Indy bringing back the Sankara stone) can bring these people hope and happiness.

I felt the storyline was very good and solid, except for a couple of snags. I haven’t researched it, but I’ve never heard of the Sankara stones, but I have heard of Kali and the Thugee cult, so this dark and dangerous road that Indiana traveled is quite a change from the Nazi bashing films that would follow and precede this one. But that's just me; I think perhaps that this movie isn't the favorite is because ALOT of people have never heard of these mythological Indian aspects, and therefore don't want to watch it*.

I also enjoy the involvement of the dying British Empire, which was a very historical event around the 1930s. Britain had colonized the world over for the pass couple centuries, and they were now growing smaller and smaller as their colonies rebelled and gained independence. I just thought it was an interesting aspect of the film.

I also like that this movie takes place chronologically before the first film. Periodically, Indy can’t fly a plane in this one, but by 1938 in The Last Crusade, he can. Maybe that death-defying trip across the mountains of Asia pushed him to take a flying class for adults at the local community college.

In any case, the overall film was pretty solid, and any Indiana Jones fan needs to watch this chapter as many times as they watch the other two. Why? Because like your children, you can’t love one more than the other; it’s just not right.
So get pumped for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, because the whip-cracking adventurer is back with a rag-tag team of misfits, but his legacy lives on. I hope this review gets you out to rent this before the new movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, premieres. Check Ben’s Movie Reviews soon for the third installment of the Indiana Jones series as Ben captains the ship into port in preparation for what may be the greatest film this summer. Also, if you are interested, a Top 5 Greatest Literary Indiana Jones Adventures is making its way to a Solar Sentinel near you, so check that out as well.

Safe journey, Indy lovers, wherever you are…

*Research for your Enjoyment
  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adi_Shankara

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiva
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kali

  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thuggee

1 comment:

Liona said...

Good post.