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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Harrison Ford
Kate Capshaw.
Directors
Steven Spielberg.
Screenwriters
George Lucas
Willard Huyck
Gloria Katz.
Running Time
118 minutes

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Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom
Indy's back, three years after the original


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Plot
Renowned archeologist and expert in the occult, Dr. Indiana Jones, is back in action in the 2nd Indy film. He teams up with a night club singer and a 12 year old named Short Round. They end up in an Indian village, where the people believe evil spirits have taken their children away after a sacred stone was stolen. Indiana agrees to try and retrieve the stone for the villagers.


Review
After the phenomenal success of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, there was immediate pressure to milk the franchise for all it was worth. This was the stuff of serials, after all. What Indy did next was imperative. Spielberg and Lucas, however, if not exactly contemplating a change of direction, were committed to a tonal about-face. Raiders was sunlit, panoramic and up-beat, therefore Temple Of Doom, its sequel-prequel (set a year before Indy went in search of the Ark but still feeling like a progression of the character), would be dark, claustrophobic and a bit weird.

The opening is vintage Spielberg. Indy arrives in a tuxedo and we're in a Shanghai nightclub (Club Obi-Wan, for eagle-eyed in-jokers) not a trap-ridden tomb, and what ensues is a glorious tribute (and subversion) of a Busby Berkley dance number (at which the director had always
fancied trying his hand). It's a musical show — Cole Porter's Anything Goes — scattershot with gunfire, a poisoned Indy fumbling around for the vial of antidote and singer/love-interest Willie (Capshaw) lunging for a huge diamond, each being kicked out of reach by the panicking crowd. The story is folded between the hurtling action. An Indian village devoid of children and a stolen sacred stone lead to a dastardly Hindu cult called the Thuggee which aims to unite a series of occult Sankara stones (in true Hinduism such items were actually phallic symbols) and unleash hell.

In terms of the trilogy, you can view Raiders as focusing on Judaism, Last Crusade on Christianity and Doom on Hindu. Indy will go bad but be redeemed by his surrogate child/sidekick Short Round (Ke Quan) and save all the kiddiewinks enslaved in a mine, digging for another Sankara. Hat, whip and trademark grimace always present and correct. The reaction was vitriolic. Doom was slammed for its sadism, its meanness, its racial stereotyping. So galled was Spielberg by the negativity that he himself recanted: "I wasn't happy with Temple Of Doom at all," he
said in 1989. "It was too dark, too subterranean, and much too horrific. I thought it out poltered Poltergeist." Such was the outcry that this became one of the films that led to the creation of the PG 13 rating in the States. None of which stopped it becoming another massive hit.

Certainly the movie lacks a sufficently meaty villain — Amrish Puri's Thuggee leader is fairly insubstantial — and is simplistic in its portrayal of ethnic groups. But such sniping feels from the backlash. Spielberg's skill is so much more apparent: the frenetic edits, the delicious construction of stunts (Indy, desperate to extinquish a flaming boot, runs straight into a torrent of water about to wash him off a cliff), and the lurid, boyish detail (battalions of bugs, gooey monkey brains, and more sexual chemistry than either of the other two).

Enslaved children, jellied monkey brains, human sacrifice and the gouging-out of human hearts is exactly the stuff to satiate your average 12-year-old's goulish cravings. And given the tone Indy was originally pitched at — a Saturday serial taken to extremes — none of it felt that real. It was "movie" real; the delivery pitch perfect. Anyway, Doom has regained its vitality over time, now safely removed action-direction it's up there with his best work. It just never lets up. The surging chase in mine carts is daftly postmodern: a literal rollercoaster ride in a rollercoaster ride of a movie which ends in a literal cliffhanger.

The escape from Shanghai was a leftover from Raiders story meetings (then outside of the reach of the budget) resurrected to glorious effect for the follow on. Why leave the audience room to breathe? That would spoil the whole effect. The stuntwork alone is on a different plane and for all the darkness and mystic brew, Willard Huyck's script was upbeat and very funny. The presence of a youthful sidekick presents a fatherly side to Indy (played with unflagging, wry machismo by Ford), which works better than you'd imagine. Short Round (named after Huyck's dog) keeps up an I-told-you-so patter that puts paid to the potential mawkishness. Kate Capshaw came under heavy fire from the critics, so much so that she bailed out of the publicity tour. She was accused of adhering to the squealing, blonde cliche (a la Fay Wray), and while lacking the tomboy spirit of Karen Allen she is actually a sly parody of the cliche — as is the whole movie. And she was far sexier than Allen or Alison Doody. Well, Steven thought so, he went on to marry her.


Verdict
The sustained furore of humour, visual panache and headlong momentum makes for dazzling cinema. All of which makes it possibly Spielberg's most underrated film.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom
Empire Star Rating

Deliciously dark

Yes, it's nowhere near as good as Raiders, but I think I may actually prefer this to Last Crusade, simply because it's so wonderfully dark yet fun. It's not often you call a Spielberg movie "too dark" so maybe its uniqueness is what I love about it. Either way, Temple Of Doom is one of those blockbusters that fully lives up to the term "A roller-coaster ride of a movie!". It's not perfect, of course, but it is a very entertaining non-stop thrill ride. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 10:56, 21 February 2013 | Report This Post


Not to be taken too seriously

This is the fun one yet at the same time remains a classic Indy film. Definitely not as great, it is darker and the character of Willie does little for feminism. However I don't find her annoying shes actually great fun (would have been nice if she became a better person by the end mind) and so is Indiana Jones' sidekick short round. The move away from Raiders is also a admirable bonus. As far as im concerned this is true Indy territory, no criss crossing around the globe but we stay with the th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trainedasninja at 09:52, 08 July 2011 | Report This Post


not the worst one anymore. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AJJCrook at 12:54, 15 June 2010 | Report This Post


The Best One.

Temple pisses on Raiders. Raiders has a tendency to get dull in parts. Temple never does. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Franciscus at 00:41, 21 March 2010 | Report This Post


Worst of the Trilogy-Awful

Loved Raiders and the Last Crusade but this was disappointing. It had some decent ideas, and Shortround was a good character. But it was nowhere near as funny, clever or as entertaining as the other two, and at times it was very painful to watch,especially when Shortround said he loved Indy; I felt like tearing my eyes out. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kieran94 at 14:52, 30 December 2009 | Report This Post


Better than most people say!

Okay, it wasn't the best out of the trilogy but it sure isn't a bad movie! It's original, it's action-packed, it's well-made (what spielberg movie isn't?) and, unfortunetely...it's underrated! It certainly has it's parts that are better than the other two; it is the most cinematic (to watch it with a whole audience would be some experience; to listen to their reactions to the bugs and other nasty horrors); it's probably the most original (Indy turns into a bad guy!); and it includes (i agree 100... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by !xHoTRoDx! at 18:44, 05 July 2009 | Report This Post


indy and doom

A disappointment after the genius of Raiders. The kid is annoying as is Kate Capshaw. I actually liked the India storyline but did not like all the distractions. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 00:14, 03 July 2008 | Report This Post


indy and doom

A disappointment after the genius of Raiders. The kid is annoying as is Kate Capshaw. I actually liked the India storyline but did not like all the distractions. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 00:14, 03 July 2008 | Report This Post


RE: FANTASTIC!

L: marky_77 ]too dark for my liking, ck in the temple for most of it rather than doing and being in lot's of places, which was raidersbut willie was hot, especially in her pj's waiting for indy. although she was annoying, as was short round. quass landing line is funny though. some great action and the best end of all films with the bridge. ]of the 3 80's films i have it after raiders and crusade. sp; I didn't think this was a bad thing. As most of it was set in one location ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr E at 15:50, 03 June 2008 | Report This Post


RE: FANTASTIC!

The best of the Indiana Jones trilogy  rollercoaster ride which takes the audience to the depths of hell and then out again.  The mixture of humour with the action is perfectly judged,Short Round is a fantastic sidekick,and the action,such as the mine car chase,is some of the best ever.  Undoubtably intense and horrific, but thrilling,rousing and simply terrific entertainment. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 18:00, 02 June 2008 | Report This Post


RE: FANTASTIC!

Fantastic action scenes and many great effects (the mine cart chase still impresses) which may be dated in places but are always imaginative, plenty of good lines and heaps of atmosphere make this on par with The Last Crusade easily. So Capshaw is irritating, but outside of the camp fire scene she doesn't get a chance to grate too much, and the "nocturnal activities" scene always raises a childish grin. It may be "dark" but only ever in a comic style, it's not showing the grim realities of slav... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rich at 17:48, 01 June 2008 | Report This Post


RE: FANTASTIC!

At least with the Shankara stones there was a sense of awe and wonder, I didn't get that with the Indy 4 Spoilers I didn't get any of that with the aliens. All those expensive effects and still I found those three glowing stones far more mysterious and engaging.   And "You betrayed Shiva" was a far better line, and much better delivered, than "They're from the spaces between spaces" or whatever. ... More

Posted by Tech_Noir at 17:15, 01 June 2008 | Report This Post


RE: FANTASTIC!

]too dark for my liking, and stuck in the temple for most of it rather than doing and being in lot's of places, which was raiders. but willie was hot, especially in her pj's waiting for indy. although she was annoying, as was short round. quass landing line is funny though. some great action and the best end of all films with the bridge. ]of the 3 80's films i have it after raiders and crusade. ... More

Posted by marky_77 at 17:09, 01 June 2008 | Report This Post


RE: FANTASTIC!

L: Mr. Chumba I hated bloody Willie Scott at the start but at the end when Indy whips her up. I found myself falling in love ] sp; Totally agree.   That ending always makes me smile. ... More

Posted by Tech_Noir at 14:44, 31 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: FANTASTIC!

Love the darkness, love the action scenes and love Willie Scott. Always been my favourite Indy movie. ... More

Posted by morg1138 at 14:16, 31 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: FANTASTIC!

I love Doom. I actually want to see Willie Scott again. A very nostalgic movie and it has some great action and I love the mine cart scene. I hated bloody Willie Scott at the start but at the end when Indy whips her up. I found myself falling in love ] If Spielberg does another Indy Movie, he should give his Missus a part. ... More

Posted by Mr. Chumba at 11:26, 30 May 2008 | Report This Post


FANTASTIC!

I just don't get why Doom gets slated so much still. It's loads of fun. Sure it's the darkest and goriest but that's no bad thing. It's unfair to snipe at any dated effects. The only "bad" bit may be the racial stereotypes and even that element can be debated. Doom rocks! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by giddig at 22:45, 29 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom

My least favourite of the four. Kate Capshaw.  Mother of God, I have never disliked a character in a film so much! Some of the effects are ropey as shit.  Raiders, even almost 30 years on, still looks as fresh as a daisy, but Temple's escape in the raft just looks dodgy as hell.   ... More

Posted by DazDaMan at 00:05, 26 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom

L: Silvertouch Let's not patronise ourselves (or children) here. Temple of Doom might be "dark", whatever that means, but it never becomes too dark for a five year old. We're not talking Hostel here. We're not talking Requiem for a Dream. We're not even talking I Am Legend. It's all comic, all fantastic, and all suitable for children. deleted ... More

Posted by kingalan at 16:16, 25 May 2008 | Report This Post


Definietly the funnier of all the Indy movies. Nice change fo tack into India, but for a famouse archeologist, he did nothing archeological. No clues, no digging through massive books, no snakes. An indy movie, that was not very indy. Still has to be 5 stars for beign the most entertaining movie of my childhood. I must have watched this 1000 times and still watch it a couple times a year. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SuperTONES at 12:38, 23 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom

It's my favourite of the bunch.  ... More

Posted by Sumintelligentguy at 01:24, 21 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom

Let's not patronise ourselves (or children) here.   Temple of Doom might be "dark", whatever that means, but it never becomes too dark for a five year old. We're not talking Hostel here. We're not talking Requiem for a Dream. We're not even talking I Am Legend. It's all comic, all fantastic, and all suitable for children.   Doom stands up in its own right. Crusade does not. There is no other evaluation necessary. ... More

Posted by Silvertouch at 18:04, 19 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom

I don't think the problem is the "darker" tone (I hate that phrase) but the problem is d It's aimed more at kids - you have the child sultan, Short Round and all the kids working in the mines saved by Indy, but then does have it's "darker" moments - Indy becomes enslaved, the heart ripping etc. The film is sending mixed messages to my brain! That said, it is still great fun, and watching the trilogy again recently, it is - to my surprise - actually better than Last Crusade. ... More

Posted by Heskin Radiophonic at 14:39, 19 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom

As much as I loved this film growing up, it's sadly fallen to third favourite. It's still a great spectacle though and probably the most comedic of the series despite it's dark tone when it comes to the temple scenes. Usually I'm not a fan of 'special editions' but the SFX towards the end of the film are crying out for a overhaul.     Never understood why it needed to be a prequel though. I've been told that in this film he's all about 'fortune and glory' ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by fuzzy at 14:09, 19 May 2008 | Report This Post


Not Dark enough.

Indiana Jones and the temple of doom had a great idea but it is badly executed by a director who couldnt direct a horror scene if he tried. spielberg should of been replaced by someone more competent with the material. also the SFX have dated badly and look stupid now. nowhere near as good as RAIDERS or LAST CRUSADE. also the kids in it are bloody irritating including short round. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Horrorguru at 20:46, 12 March 2008 | Report This Post


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