Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Movie #288: Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom is, of course, the second (and worst) movie in the series. Starring Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan, Amrish Puri, and Roshan Seth, it manages to completely lose all of the charm and fun of the original.

We start off in Shanghai, in a musical number (a largely Chinese version of "Anything Goes") sung by nightclub singer Willie Scott (Capshaw). Indy (Ford) is selling an artifact (which seems out of character for him) in a sequence that's more Bond than Jones, but then there's a fight, and his little Chinese sidekick Short Round (Quan, who is actually Vietnamese) saves them. Scott gets dragged along for the ride, the plane crash-lands in India, there's a village whose mystic rock (and children) has good missing, and Indy goes to the palace where there's been a coup or something and a Thuggee cult is ripping hearts out but first they eat monkey brains and oh god why do I own this movie.

The latter half of the movie is just Jones, Willie, and Short Round romping through underground caverns getting chased by cultists. Indy gets forced to drink magic blood that makes him a slave, but he snaps out of it when Short Round says "I love you, Indy! You my best flend!" and hits him with a torch. Willie is completely fucking useless the entire time; she literally does nothing but scream and complain.

The movie has no sense of the time in which it's set; it's nominally 1936, but if you look at any given still you'd think it was set in 1983 (especially given Capshaw's hair). It's also racist as shit; the dinner scene alone is nothing but a long exercise in "look how funny the brown people are, with their eating of bugs and lives snakes!"

Reading the story of how this movie got made, it was pretty much a clusterfuck from start to finish, and it shows. Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, later commented that the movie was mean-spirited and lacking in fun, and it totally is. Indy doesn't feel at all like the dour but capable scientist we saw in Raiders. He feels like Han Solo on an acid trip.

Put it this way: Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, for all its (very apparent) flaws, is a better movie than this by far.

My Grade: F
Rewatch Value: IINSIAIFWT

Next up: Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade