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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

tn_templeofdoomlucasminusstarwarsOh no, Indy! Don’t go into that temple! That’s not a regular temple, that’s a temple of doom!

I practice religious tolerance, so if those guys want to eat monkey brains and bugs and what not, I’m not gonna judge. But in my opinion they should not be having child slaves and pulling a guy’s heart out of his chest and stuff. Not unless it’s consensual. I don’t care what their Bible of Doom says about it, you don’t go around doing that stuff, you guys. Or don’t rub our faces in it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM has an amazing opening that scores big by being absolutely not at all what anybody thought would be the opening of the sequel (well, technically prequel) to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Instead of rugged Indy wearing leather, in some jungle or desert, covered in sweat and sand, maybe carrying a torch, cutting through cobwebs in an ancient burial chamber, it opens with a musical number in a glamorous Shanghai restaurant. Dr. Jones has no hat, and is wearing a white tux, as he conducts a tense merchandise exchange with nefarious gangsters willing to resort to poisoning and hitmen disguised as waiters to get what they want out of him. But for his part Indy is willing to resort to taking a showgirl (Kate Capshaw) hostage at knifepoint and fleeing with an orphan boy named Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan) as his getaway driver.

This is not the real adventure, this is just the type of shit this guy is up to between movies. The real adventure comes after they escape in a plane and their pilot betrays them. They end up plummeting to a jungle in India where they meet the natives with the missing children, plus the more westernized government types who welcome them to dinner near that doomful temple. They find out about cultists who stole a magic stone from the villagers as party of a spooky ritual of doom or whatever. And they spend the night and find a secret tunnel in a room and next thing you know it’s booby traps and statues and all that Indiana Jones shit again.

mp_templeofdoomI like the coincidental nature of the story. He happens to fall into the middle of this crazy shit that he’s equipped to deal with. Because he’s Indiana Jones. Also I like the horrific aspects, building on the melting Nazis of the first one. Take that guy pulling a beating heart out of a guy, sprinkle on a gremlin or two, and you have the birth of the PG-13 movie, which for many years allowed filmatists to get away with more in movies not strictly for adults, instead of today’s thing where it forces them to water down what would be better as an R-rated movie. It was once a proud rating, a bold rating, not a compromise. A rating of doom.

But while some parts might be too much for your kids (if your kids are weiners), other aspects don’t seem worthy of a movie for grown ups. I know the idea of an Asian orphan sidekick is a tribute to old timey tropes, and that Short Round’s Little Rascally life is a contrast to the other kids in the story who are forced to work in a mine, but geez. He has blocks tied to his feet to reach the gas pedal. He beats up some adults. He’s kinda funny sometimes I guess, but people who have adored that character since childhood would crucify this movie if it was something that came out now.

Much, much, much worse is Capshaw’s character Willie Scott, a whining, bickering prima donna kidnap victim turned Stockholm love interest. She’s supposed to be an airhead but at the beginning when she mistakes a small treasure for a small person it’s way too much for me to believe. I’m sure it’s supposed to be cute that she’s always screaming and stumbling and getting freaked out by every little thing that ever happens, but I find it annoying. And Indy’s attitude toward this woman he and Short Round call “doll” is kind of a “Women, huh? This is what they’re like.” But of course we’ve seen Marion before, we know Indy knows there are much less horrible women in the world. He’s really allowing jungle isolation to lower his standards.

At the climax there’s a cool action scene with them riding in mine carts, done partly with blue screens and with some stop motion models. This is another very Lucas/ILM sequence, kinda like a non-space variation on RETURN OF THE JEDI’s speeder bike chase. I guess this starts the tradition of Indiana Jones scenes that seem like a theme park ride, even before it had an actual theme park ride (which happened in 1995, and takes place at a different temple but also in India in 1935). Apparently this, and the part where they jump out of a plane in an inflatable raft, and the part where they run behind a rolling gong as bullets bounce off of it, were all written for the first movie but they couldn’t afford them before or know how to do them. So they saved them for when the time was right. Or they just used leftovers. You could look at it either way.

Lucas provided the story again, the screenplay is by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, who had also written AMERICAN GRAFFITI for him. Lawrence Kasdan turned down the gig, because he thought the story was “very ugly and mean-spirited.” That may be because both Lucas and Spielberg were going through bad breakups and being a couple of fuckin grumps at the time. (See also: James Cameron, TRUE LIES.)

For many years TEMPLE OF DOOM had a reputation as a shitty sequel, partly I think because it was surprisingly different from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, both more broadly supposedly-funny and more gruesome. Many parents were outraged by the graphic violence in what they thought was gonna be a normal movie for kids. Years later their kids grew up and remembered the graphic violence fondly, so opinions of the movie became generally more favorable.

I always thought it was pretty fun, but to be frankly honest on this viewing I realized I may have worn it out or aged out of it or something. The story is pretty meandering, not good enough to outweigh not wanting Indy to get together with this embarrassment to women, or the stretch where Indy is acting like a braindead zombie because he’s supposedly in a trance, plus the very ’80s “other cultures are gross” joke of the dinner scene. (They actually had intended to film in India but weren’t able to because the people there thought the script was totally racist.)

TEMPLE OF DOOM definitely has some fun to offer, and it’s an example of Lucas’s pattern of risk-taking in sequels, as opposed to doing an easy rehash that would’ve been more warmly received at the time and then totally forgotten by now. I respect it for not taking the easy path, but it’s hard to deny that it’s too slight and goofy to live up to its perfectly tuned predecessor.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 at 11:56 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

52 Responses to “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”

  1. “(if your kids are weiners)”

    need to learn not to be drinking while reading outlaw vern cause i just spit polar seltzer all over my monitor.

  2. Willie Scott has to be one of the worst characters in the history of movies. Seriously. Even back in the eighty’s as a kid I had serious issues with that character. Short round I didn’t really mind because I was a kid back then too but I could take him or leave him honestly he was kind of inconsequential.

    The reason I will always love this movie though is that it came into my life when I was getting into movies with gross special effects. Like Evil Dead 2,Hellraiser and the blob and the fly and Robocop and a few of the other movies back then.

    That was one of the biggest contributing factors to making me a lifelong movie fan. And this movie is pretty much packed to the brim with gross effects. I also like the darkness and grim atmosphere of it because again I was really going into sci-fi thriller and horror movies around the time I was first introduced to this one in the late 80’s so it was right up my alley.

    Also rewatching it recently as an adult I could actually say that it’s probably still my favorite performance from Harrison Ford. I wouldn’t say it’s his best but it’s certainly how I always remember Indiana Jones. It just really really works for me like Bill Murray as Peter Venkman in the original GHOSTBUSTERS, Mel in THE ROAD WARRIOR, Eddie as Reggie in 48 HRS. or Sly as John Rambo in FIRST BLOOD.

  3. As I grew up, and my wife became an anthropologist, 1) the shit Indy did in the Crystal Skull is unforgivable and 2) in this movie, I remember him being the counter-point to Willie’s gross-out at the exotic stuff, at least early on when they get to the village and meet with the elders. They’re sitting on the dirt floor, they are offered food and expected to eat some mush with flies landing on it with their bare hands, Willie is grossed out, and Indy looks at her and gestures as if to say, “c’mon, be polite and respectful!”. I don’t know if it makes up for the later exoticization of chilled monkey brains, I’d have to see it again, but I’m thinking not…

  4. Willie sucks for the same reason the movie opens with a glamorous nightclub scene: They wanted to do something different. They’d already done the tomboy who can handle herself thing in RAIDERS, so they went the other direction. Whether it worked out or not is another thing (I think Willie is perfectly fine as a comedic foil) but it would have been way worse to have another Marion-esque character.

  5. If this film were released today, the internet would crucify it. But since it’s a nostalgic artifact, I see plenty of people claim it’s their favorite of the series.

    I Like this entry, but the racist subtext is hard to ignore as an adult. As I grew up and learned more about British colonialism, I remember being confused about the political situation in the film. Why is there a Maharaja of this single part of India? And then I grew even older and learned about the Princely States of India, places that maintained some quasi-sovereignty and were distinct from British controlled India, which I assume is happening here. Learning about this makes the film even worse. Now it’s too easy to read the film an indictment of traditional Indian practices, which are portrayed as gross, foreign, and barbaric. And then, at the very end, the British colonials come in and set things right. The message seems to be, don’t let Indians rule themselves; they’re just not civilized enough to handle it. But the mine cart chase scene is undeniable awesome.

  6. Oh, it’s racist as fuck. It’s only saving grace is that Indy himself is very tolerant and respectful of every culture he comes across (except Nazis, I guess. He hates those guys.) It’s something I can accept as an artifact of a less-sensitive past, one I’m glad to see less of nowadays.

  7. The difference between RAIDERS and DOOM is a lesson in the importance of nailing a tone. In RAIDERS, the tone is perfect, but DOOM is both too adult (the violence, etc.) and too juvenile (the dumb dinner scene, a secret door that opens when you grab a statue’s boobs, etc.) at the same time.

    I like exactly one scene in this entire film: when Indy is trapped on the bridge, and we get that super long/wide shot showing the cultists stalking him from both directions. Otherwise, I found this movie a real disappointment.

  8. Yeah, Indiana comes off as respectful of other cultures. I think Spielberg and Lucas were directly translating 1930s adventure films without thinking to update some of the more embarrassing tropes. I guess Temple of Doom is the original “Accidental Racist.”

    Still, that shot when the light of the mine cart slowly illuminated a pissed as fuck Indiana Jones is pretty killer. It’s a great turning point in the film. We’ve been put through hell, and the characters have been largely helpless until this point, and now we’re ready for Indiana Jones to finally start kicking ass.

  9. The whole genre i sproblematic to say the least, since it is structurally very colonialist with the exotification of “the other”. I don´t think Spielberg/Lucas were very aware of it though. I believe it is called structural racism.

    Or maybe it was the work of Senõr Spielbergo. he may have been the one directing it. Non-union affiliated craftsmen are cheaper

  10. “(well, technically prequel)” Wait, what? Is this supposed to take place before RAIDERS? How did I not know this?

    Don’t even get me started on Willie. I’m 100% sure I would also scream in some of those scenarios and really, really not want to put my hand in the bug hole, but that doesn’t mean I want to see 90 minutes of that going on. It could’ve been done without being so annoying.

    I honestly don’t see how this is more gruesome than faces melting off and guys getting chopped up with propellers and think any parent who knew that happened in RAIDERS and then was shocked and offended by what happened here is dumb.

  11. For all its flaws, I do love this movie. I think I am able enoughe to seperate my nostalgia for this movie to the actual flaws of the piece and still enjoy it. It´s very much more schlocky than RAIDERS and as such it is a fun watch, although it is quite terrible at times.

  12. Shoot McKay, very well said re: exotification of “the other”. Even as a 10-year-old I found something about it troubling, though of course at that age I relished in the eating of giant beetles and “gimme your hat..” “why?” “cuz I’m gonna puke in it!”

  13. I love the fact that Temple of Doom is basically the birth of Indiana Jones. It’s a prequel that sort of reverse engineers Indy. He basically starts out as a hotshot archeologist. He more or less goes on his quest for the stones in the name of “fortune and glory” (as he explicitly states to Short Round). Later after seeing the child slaves and being put into the sleep of Kali he becomes a righteous whipcracking juggernaut of justice. When Willie says lets get out of here and he says “Right. All of us”, he’s shedding his selfishness. When the mine cart light shines on his face in the next scene you’re seeing the Indy we knew in Raiders for the first time.

    Oh and Willie was the obvious prototype for Jar Jar.

  14. This is my favourite Indiana Jones movie. RAIDERS takes itself too seriously, CRUSADE is ruined by constant sitcom shenanigans and surprisingly shitty production values, CRYSTAL SKULL is a lot of fun, but not the instant classic that the first two were. But TEMPLE gets it all right IMO. The classic serial tropes (as political incorrect as they are these days), the mix between super dark horror and comedy moments, the action beats, if I would be stranded on a lonely island, with electricity, a TV and a DVD or Blu-Ray player, but could only take one Indy movie with me, this would be it!

    Random note: It took me over 10 years to spot Dan Aykroyd. I kept reading that he is in that movie, but I never saw him, so I either figured he would wear heavy make up, we would only hear his voice (which would make spotting him different if you only watch that movie in German) or it would be a rumor, like Elvis standing behind Catherine O’Hara for one scene in HOME ALONE.

  15. Yeah CJ you never see his full face, only long-shots from the side. I only just figured out it was him after hearing his voice (with a refined British accent), but it’s undeniably Aykroyd.

  16. The editing on the Bridge sequence is the worst. What’s with the wideshot showing they’re about 15 feet over a Las Vegas spa’s water feature, and then cutting to CGI of them 1,000 feet over flying starving crocs?

  17. I’m biased because TEMPLE OF DOOM was the first Indiana Jones movie I ever saw so I have nostalgic affection for it despite some of the uncomfortably racist and sexist stuff. Yeah Willie Scott is a drag but Short Round makes up for it. I was a little Asian kid at the time so identified with him and liked to imagine being Indy’s sidekick too. Weirdly the human sacrifice stuff didn’t scary me as much as the ending of RAIDERS. One thing that TOD has going for it is that Indy is a real actual hero who saves the day in this one while it’s been pointed out the Nazis would have found the Ark of the Covenant whether he got involved or not.

  18. My theory on why Willie Scott is so annoying is that actress Kate Capshaw is clearly working beneath her ability. If they’d gotten somebody like Jennifer Tilly (or whoever the early 80s equivalent would have been), Willie’s wacky ditziness and constant alarm might have been a funny character trait. Whereas Kate Capshaw comes across as more of a Sigourney Weaver or Linda Hamilton who somehow got stuck in a role that requires her to play weaker and stupider than she is in real life.

    I’m happy for her and Spielberg that they hit it off and got married as a result of this movie. But I also think that she’s miscast in this movie and that she probably missed out on a lot of better roles she could have had since. She’s great in the scenes where the humor is based on dialogue, which proves she deserved a smarter character to play.

  19. One Guy From Andromeda

    December 16th, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    @CJ Holden: It was exactly the same for me with Aykroyd! For a time 12 year old me convinced himself that he was a temple guard until i finally spotted him at the airport xD

    There is some great stuff in this movie, apart from the opening and of course the furious mine cart chase i think it’s interesting to see how tomb raider Indy becomes it belongs in a museum Indy over the course of the movie, but all in all yes, it’s too meandering, the romantic comedy and horror stuff in the middle don’t work at all. But it’s still way better than the super boring and so, so cheap looking part 3.

    I heard they made a fourth one, but chalked it down to vicious rumours…

  20. I like the call-forward to Indy casually blowing away the swordsman in RAIDERS, when he tries the same in this one but doesn’t have a gun.

  21. Curt, you took the words out of my mouth. I think Capshaw’s got a toughness that serves her well in Black Rain, but doesn’t endear or prime a viewer to laugh. She projects enough intelligence to make the spoiled and insensitive parts of her character seem like consciously held positions. Not to keep pimping Body Double, but imagine period Melanie Griffith as Winnie and the character could be a great pre-code/screwball role: Someone wise enough to work certain angles while believably blinkered in other respects, someone distracted by riches and puzzled by other cultures without having guile or disrespect, and someone riding the funny-adorable line better.

  22. Short Round, though, absolutely no complaints. No faulting the actor or the character, just maybe a few of the “let’s see how a kid reacts!” cutaways.

  23. Inspector you beat me to it but yes, great choice in MG.

  24. The Original Paul

    December 16th, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    I have so many mixed feelings about this movie.

    On the one hand, the “romance” is incredibly awkward (and yes, Willie Scott – is there a specific reason why she has two male names, by the way? – is that freakin’ annoying.) I’ve never had a problem with the character of Short Round myself but I can see why others do. And the racial / colonial overtones are a bit hard to ignore.

    But all that said… man, this thing does not compromise on what it wants to be – even when what it wants to be is kinda ugly. That scene with the Thuggee ritual – which felt like it lasted at least twenty minutes, although it was probably closer to five – is straight-up horror. And man, is it effective. I know a few people who straight-up hate that scene, but they don’t deny that it works. Hell, that’s exactly why they hate it.

    Having seen WAR OF THE WORLDS (yes, I think every single Spielberg-related film is gonna be compared to that one from now on, such is the huge impression that it made on me), it’s hard not to see TEMPLE OF DOOM as kind of a genesis of some of Spielberg’s more modern-day qualities. Willie Scott in particular seems to be a forerunner of some of his more… one-dimensional, I guess… portrayals in his more recent movies. And the Thuggee ritual is definitely an example of Spielberg turning his talents towards the dark side (horror, racism, heart-removal, etc).

    Man, I don’t know what I could say to do full justice to TEMPLE OF DOOM. I find it endlessly watchable and fascinating, even if there are parts of it that I don’t think work. And some of the parts that do work are straight-up disturbing for all kinds of reasons. But then that’s part of why it works. I wish I could pinpoint exactly why TEMPLE works for me whereas WAR OF THE WORLDS was so excrutiating, since they share so many similarities. Maybe it’s because the kid has some agency, and doesn’t just come across as emotional baggage for the hero? Maybe it’s because, however awful Willie is – and she is awful – she still feels like more of a character than anybody in WotW? Maybe it’s because, at the end of TEMPLE OF DOOM, even though it’s a pretty harrowing film at times, it feels “worth it” when Indy and co. finally get out of there, whereas WotW’s ending just feels as cheap, crass and manipulative as the rest of the film does? But then again, why does TEMPLE get a “pass” there? What, specifically, about it makes it feel “worthwhile” to me? I’m not quite sure that I can even answer that question.

    I guess what I’m trying to say here is that, for better or worse, all of Spielberg’s films have provided an intensely personal experience for me. (Well, ok, maybe not JURASSIC PARK 2. That one just straight-up sucked. But the rest of them, definitely.) He’s such a master craftsman when it comes to the little things, making little character moments, and just provoking an interested reaction in his viewers. He might be better at that than anybody else. TEMPLE OF DOOM… I find it compulsively watchable. I wouldn’t say I “like” it since there’s so much in it to dislike. But the experience of watching it is, for me, a worthwhile one. Does that make sense?

  25. The Original Paul

    December 16th, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    And Curt’s point is interesting. To my knowledge I’ve never seen Capshaw in anything other than TEMPLE OF DOOM (I probably have, just didn’t realise it was her) so I don’t know if I can comment on the comparison. But it’s definitely an interesting take on a much-hated performance.

  26. Hurtado, that wasn’t cgi. Those were optical effects.

  27. It should also be pointed out that this movie features probably the best score in the series.

    Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom Soundtrack-04 Short Round's Theme

    Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom Soundtrack-04

  28. grimgrinningchris

    December 16th, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Good call, RJ… though the scores for Last Crusade and Crystal Skull are perfectly serviceable and make fine use of the original Indy march, there is NOTHING memorable or unique about their scores… Temple of Doom has so many themes and cues that are just as immediately identifiable as “Indiana Jones music” as the original march. Neither other sequel can claim anything close.

    And yes, Willie is annoying… but 1) she was supposed to be and as others have pointed out, a total (and needed) 180 from the character of Marion 2) she was smoking hot and the dance number is FUCKING BRILLIANT (although Cole Porter wrote “Anything Goes” well after the supposed movie timeline so… anachronism, but whatever…)

    Also, as great a character as Marion Ravenwood was for 3/4 of her screen time, it must be admitted that for the other 1/4 she inexplicably turns into a screaming, useless damsel in distress… At least Willie is consistent.

  29. Temple of Doom is like the movie Raiders was gonna be until Lawrence Kasdan saved it from itself. He has a knack for infusing pulpy concepts with warmth, wit, humanity, charm, nuance. All that is gone, so you get exactly what an Indiana Jones movie was originally gonna be, a revival of old adventure serial tropes. So you got the annoying terrible romantic interest, the annoyingly cutesy kid sidekick, racist caricature bad guys, gross out sight gags and cornball attempts at humor, and an overload of set pieces to distract you from its slight story.

  30. The action, framing, music and Ford (playing Indiana Jones at his most Humphrey Bogart) are all incredible in TEMPLE OF DOOM, but I agree that the story becomes a big static once they’re in India. It’s definitely more kid-friendly than RAIDERS, although the next two movies would be even more-so. I’m not sure why it has such a “dark” rep compared to the first, either. RAIDERS is just as gruesome, and not as light in tone, so the violence there feels like it HURTS more, while TEMPLE is full of knowing horror artifice.

    Also, does anyone remember how it took this thing almost three years to hit home video? I had the picture book beforehand, but the wait to actually see it felt like forever.

  31. TEMPLE OF DOOM is not a perfect movie, it’s way pulpier than RAIDERS, more over the top, more cartoonish, I think there was just enough New Hollywood grit left over in the early 80’s to make RAIDERS what it was, but by 84 the big, over the top culture of the 80’s was on in full force (it’s somewhat similar to the evolution of the ROCKY series now that I think about it), there’s also some tonal inconsistencies, I’ve never really liked the scene where Indy becomes mind controlled, it’s the one part of the movie where I think it becomes a bit too dark.

    But despite it’s flaws I still think this is a pretty great movie, I love how different it is than the first film, structure wise it’s less of a globetrotting hunt for a treasure and more of a “fortress infiltration” movie, I love the dark, dank, foreboding environments of the cult’s compound, I love the mine cart chase.

    As for the racism, yeah this movie is certainly not politically correct by today’s standards, but I think it’s all in keeping with the 1930’s pulp tone of the movie, I don’t think Spielberg or Lucas thought they were making an accurate depiction of Indian culture.

  32. I’m pretty sure this is the first Indy movie I ever saw, the whole thing with Mola Rham scared the shit out of me as a kid. His hair never grew back after he shaved it off I think. That kid that was the king or prince or whatever was annoying though, especially how smug he was at the start of the film.

  33. This has gone from being slightly underrated (certainly when I was growing up it has a rep as ‘the bad one’) to overrated by many now.

    The writing and characterization are flat, it looks stagy and green-screened compared with the timeless look of Raiders, it’s overly fond of cutesy Raiders callbacks that would get slated as pandering in a modern franchise movie, and there’s a severe lack of narrative momentum (or indeed, actual ‘story’) once they arrive at the Temple. And that’s not even touching on the racial stuff.

    I respect it for trying to establish the series as broader than Indy chasing Nazis for artifacts every time, but I don’t think they did a terribly good job of it.

  34. Thank you for inspiring a rewatch. This is so effing great. The massive set and all the chireography of people mining on different levels, what a master to coordinate all that. The pace is extraordinary and keeps escalating. Mola Ram’s escape hatch! And all the little spielbergian touches of seeing action continue in shadow… Spielberg is the best.

    I even see the point of Willie. If she’s annoying it’s because by the time she sees Indy raise the sword on the bridge, she knows he’s got no bones about cutting it. The way she resigns herself to just praying she can hold on… It’s the arc of a layman on an Indiana jones adventure.

    It is unfortunate that the premise is based on racist fear mongering of Indian culture. if only it were a totally made up cult with no bearing on real cultures. Maybe there can be a culturally sensitive special edition, but change nothing else!

  35. From a recent rewatch of the films, I find DOOM and THE LAST CRUSADE still to be my favourites. DOOM really lives up to the “Indy goes from bad to worse action set pieces” of the matinee sdventure serials than the first one ever did. Sure, RAIDERS is classier, but still I find myself on the edge of my seat throughout the many action sequences and the incredible sets get me immersed into the dark world of the thuggees.

    THE LAST CRUSADE feels like a wonderful blend of the more light hearted tone of the original, with the thrillride of part two. It´s more involving, more personal, funnier and just a real joy to watch. The chemistry between Ford and Connery makes the film and make you more involved with the story. The quest for the graal is also the quest for them bondinng as they never did. Great film.

  36. grimgrinningchris

    December 19th, 2015 at 1:59 am

    I’ll wait for the LAST CRUSADE review to speak more about it… but in short, while a fun movie- and I am ALWAYS up for the character of Indy and his adventures- it is the weakest of the series. And yes, that includes Crystal Skull.

  37. I think it´s thematically the most adult of the films but is not afraid to be silly so you still get that fun sense of action adventure. The pacing is perfect. NOt as relentless as DOOM, but more enjoyable than RAIDERS (which has some boring parts or maybe I have just seen it too many times).

    CRYSTAL SKULL outside the first 20 minutes is pretty much uneventful and unexciting.More of a cartoonish version of an Indy film. Devoid of mostly any Spielbergian little touches that usually spices up things. The opening sequence at least has that great sequence when the russian bad guys kneels ,pretenfing to tie his shoes, revealing machine gun heavies and also Indy´s introduction is great. And you can´t avoid getting feeling weird seeing Indy walk around in a faux paux-suburbian american neigbourhood

  38. Shoot McKay – I think LAST CRUSADE just might be my personal favorite of the series, I wont say it’s objectively the best, but I really love it.

    For one I love how you learn more about Indy’s past, Indy was already an iconic character by that point, but you never really knew much about his history, LAST CRUSADE filling in his backstory was fascinating and further grounds his character.

    Plus, it was just brilliant to have Sean Connery be his father.

  39. The first time I ever watched LAST CRUSADE back in ’89 I remember being really dissapointed and not liking it very much. What they did with Marcus Brody was my first “what the fuck did they do to this character?” moment in my life and making him a bumbling idiot really offended me especially as a RAIDERS fan.

    But I did learn to subsequently love it and all the humor and light heartedness as time went on and it’s myvsecond favorite in the series like every other day now.

  40. grimgrinningchris

    December 19th, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Again, waiting on the actual Last Crusade review to comment further…

  41. I thought making Marcus Brody someone who doesn´t function outside his own comfort zone ( the world of academia) was a great idea. It´s not like he was a fleshed out beloved character from the original as he had such a minor role in that one. But in CRUSADE he got more traits,as it happens a “bumbling idiot”, but there is nothing wrong withn that. Those people do exist.

  42. Yeah they do exist but it was so jarring to my 6 year old mind at the time. Back then I used to deal in absolutes like most kids tend to do.

  43. The speech Indy does about Brody being able to speak every language and blend in everywhere is priceless. I really liked Denholm Elliott!

  44. Denholm Elliot was a class act. Again seeing a man that was presented as pretty intelligent somewhat mysterious and very authoritative in his brief role in the first being reduced to the fourth stooge was pretty jarring. On the flip side though Elliott pulled it off with enough grace that I did learn to forgive it a lesser actor would not have been as lucky.

  45. Also occurs to me this is the only one that’s allowed to be any different from Raiders. Once people complained, the sequels all had to ape Raiders.

    Last Crusade was my fav as a kid but now the humor seems really childish and doesn’t work at all. I get the Spielberg daddy issues and all but it’s a tad too blatant for me.

  46. That’s funny Fred because to me it’s the opposite. When I was a kid I was very precocious almost extremely actually. I think it was from growing up around older folks primarily and no real kids my age outside of school. Especially in David Dinkins era inner city NYC.

    My memory is also naturally very sharp which is ironic since I’m a pot smoker as an adult. I went to therapy in 2nd grade because my parents got scared then after that they thought I was a boy genius.

    So long story short when I was a kid I was disappointed with Last Crusade. On some “ah man nazis again?!?”, “what’s with all the lame ass jokes?” and “This is the Marcus guy Indy respected and admired? He’s a clumsy dork!” type shit. But my father always really liked this movie and when I will go to his house on the weekends we would often see it together so over time it grew on me.

    I always did like Temple though even now despite all the bullshit as has been pointed out all over this thread by now. I will always be a diehard Raiders guy though. That movie its in my all-time top 10.

  47. Oh RAIDERS is just below DIE HARD for me. It’s Spielberg’s best movie even though I’m supposed to say Schindler’s List is. I just couldn’t believe how much Temple still worked for me.

    Funny enough, seeing Temple in the theater never made me go back and watch Raiders. Last Crusade did and I’d watch those first two on vhs until I could get my hands on Crusade back when it took 6 months for a video release. I got why a return to desert nazis was more successful. These days I like the hell caves.

  48. Age & expectations are so damn important with these movies.

    I was exactly the right age for RAIDERS, but I was just a tiny bit too old for TEMPLE. Hated Short Round, because kids ruin everything. They often still do, in fact.
    The opening action sequence in the night club was awesome. Really. I still think it’s the best from the entire series.
    Otherwise, the deal is a mixed bag. At the time, I was only mildly disappointed.
    CRUSADE was the real heartbreaker for me. So fucking mediocre. Nazis, again. Desert, again. Not even Sean Connery could save the situation. While SKULL was disappointing, I didn’t feel the same investment in character, etc. I guess I’m too old & hold my fucks too precious to give out. Think my other favorite movie essayist, Chaw, hits the nail exactly right.

    Film Freak Central - Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures - Blu-ray Disc

    RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) ****/**** Image A Sound A+ Extras B- starring Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan directed by Steven Spielberg INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984) ***½/**** Image A+ Sound A+ Extras C+ starring Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan, Amrish Puri screenplay by Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz directed by Steven Spielberg INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989) **½/**** Image A+ Sound A+ Extras C starring Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Denholm Elliot, Alison Doody screenplay by Jeffrey Boam directed by Steven Spielberg INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008) **½/**** Image A Sound A+ Extras C- starring Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf screenplay by David Koepp directed by Steven Spielberg click any image to enlarge by Walter Chaw Let's talk about hats--fedoras, in particular, and how they evolved from the image of the hard-boiled detective in the American noir cycle into the chapeau-of-choice for Coppola's gangsters in the anti-hero '70s. How Harrison Ford's Deckard from Blade Runner was originally conceived with one of the hats to go with his trench coat before Raiders of the Lost Ark made an...

    Anyways, always love coming here, Vern, your writing is generous and on the mark. The commentariat is decent, and free of trolls, and that is a rare, precious thing.

    Thank y’all.

  49. But I’m saying Temple worked like gangbusters for me THIS WEEK. And my feelings on Crusade have evolved over time. Raiders remains unimpeachable.

  50. The Original Paul

    April 3rd, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Well I just decided to indulge in a bit of nostalgia, and ended up getting a strict lesson on why you don’t “go back”. The lesson in nostalgia wasn’t for TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984), but its Spielberg-produced ripoff, YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES (1985). Think TEMPLE OF DOOM, if you set it in London, added (even more) racism, reduced the budget by about 90%, and made it shit. There’s a secret Egyptian cult that sacrifices young girls (played mostly by obviously white actors in blackface – check out the owner of the tavern that Holmes and Watson visit halfway through the movie), a pair of really obvious “main” villains, only two instances of interesting deduction throughout the entire thing (unforgiveable in a Sherlock Holmes movie), and a genuinely horrible secondary villain in school bully Dudley who basically gets no comeuppance or retribution for his action other than having his hair turned white (because it’s not as though Sherlock Holmes would be capable of actually finding evidence of his being framed for what Dudley did, or investigate it, or anything).

    As Holmes, Nicholas Rowe is ok; but Sophie Ward as Elizabeth is really bad, and her character adds nothing to the story until very late into it, at which point she’s basically nothing but a stock damsel in distress. There’s zero chemistry between Elizabeth and Holmes, and the only thing they seem to have in common is that Elizabeth’s uncle is their joint mentor. The worst thing though is Alan Cox as Watson. I hate this little shit. The Watson of the stories was an intensely loyal former soldier with a quick wit and a fighter’s instincts. This Watson is a cowardly whiny hypocrite and borderline idiot who keeps complaining about his situation and possibly not getting into “medical school” after witnessing a murder. To make matters worse, there’s narration at some points in the film (which is seriously distracting at times) from “older” Watson, describing how he was taken on an “amazing adventure”, etc. Yeah… all we get to see of this is him use the phrase right at the very end of the film, to tie the “young” and “adult” Watsons together. God knows what else must’ve happened to young Watson after this film ended to turn him into a likeable human being. I’m guessing a frontal lobotomy.

    What’s good? – The poisoner uses some hallucinogenic blow-darts whose effects are shown with some nicely-filmed hallucinations. (The poisoner herself is a genuinely menacing figure, at least until her identity is “revealed” – and there’s really only one person it could be.) There’s also some well-filmed fencing scenes. The effects don’t exactly hold up well, but I kinda like the execution. Victorian London looks cheap but they do a pretty good job filling it with a side-cast of grotesques in gigantic moustaches. And there are a couple of memorable side characters. Elizabeth’s mad-scientist uncle is fine. I could learn to love a main plot involving a giant pyramid buried underneath London(!) if the actual pyramid, and temple within, didn’t look so horribly cheap, or if the main villains weren’t so obvious and incompetent… and unfortunately the “well-filmed” bit doesn’t extend to the final confrontation between Holmes and the villain.

    But ultimately, YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES feels like the worst kind of cash-in. It’s TEMPLE OF DOOM without the tension, the horror, or Harrison Ford. It’s cheap, it doesn’t satisfy anything that I’d want from a Sherlock Holmes movie, and while I can happily accept a “re-imagining” of the characters (I’ve enjoyed watching SHERLOCK recently), making Watson an iredeemable little shit is a step too far for me – and making Sherlock Holmes incapable of nailing the abominable Dudley to the wall doesn’t help either. There’s some nice direction of the scenes involving the hooded poisoner, the hallucinations, and the fencing. The ending, which I remember vividly from my childhood watching this, might work if you can accept Elizabeth as a suitable foil for Holmes, or at least as a believable and likeable character; watching the movie now, she’s really neither of those things.

    But seriously… blackface in 1985? What the fuck, Spielberg?

    This is why you never revisit childhood memories.

  51. Paul, haven’t seen YSH in years, but I do remember liking it when I saw it in my 20’s. I guess as a kid, it just really seemed like a weird foreign movie imported from England instead of a typical Amblin movie, especially with the no-name cast. (Fun fact: the guy who plays Sherlock here plays him again in the movie-within-the-movie in Mr. Holmes). Btw, i don’t think i knew until now that Barry Levinson directed this movie, I always thought Chris Columbus did for some reason.

    Also I think this is the first instance I can remember of a “credit cookie”. It’s basically the same one as Masters of the Universe, where the defeated villain pops back up after the credits are done (the carriage riding through the credits changes from Holmes’ to the villain’s halfway through which is actually kind of clever).

  52. The Original Paul

    April 4th, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Neal – well I remember enjoying it a lot as well, which is why it’s a little heartbreaking to see how badly it holds up today. I was expecting to find it at least enjoyably fun, and the ending really did “get” me a little when I was younger. I honestly wouldn’t recommend revisiting it. It’s not THE ABYSS levels of disappointment (yes, I realise a lot of people here still like that movie… I don’t) and it does have some good scoring and some seriously creepy stuff in it. But all of that is overshadowed by how much of an inferior TEMPLE OF DOOM ripoff it is, how cheap the sets look, how awkward the “racial” aspects are, how ineffective the main characters are, and how insufferable Watson is. Especially that last one. Apart from his one (extremely contrived) moment of glory at the end of the movie, this Watson is a whiny brat who does nothing in the movie but get dragged about from place to place, while constantly complaining about it.

    I mean, of all the things they could’ve taken from TEMPLE OF DOOM, why the heck did they give us a male teenage version of Willie Scott?

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