As a kid, I probably saw Temple of Doom much younger than I should have. At times it’s borderline a horror movie. It was the first thing I had seen above a PG rating and it left such an impact on me. Certain parts I obsessed over. I became enthralled with exotic foods and the weird and creepy. I may have been 8 or 9, but I remember scenes from this film just as clearly as if I had watched them yesterday.
And it makes a lot of sense, considering that, unlike Raiders of the Lost Ark–which has a few great scenes surrounded by some pedestrian, yet obligatory, transition ones–Temple of Doom is one memorable scene after another.
It’s much more free-flowing and organic. We don’t feel like it’s merely a product of a story or a script. It transcends that and we truly get lost in the film. Director Steven Spielberg definitely ups the ante with Temple of Doom.
In 1935, a year before Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones finds himself in India, where a local village asks him for his help recovering a mystical stone that was stolen from them by an ancient underground cult, who’s also enslaved all of the children from the village.
There’s much more mystery in this film than its predecessor. In Raiders, they tell everyone how to find the Ark of the Covenant within the first 20 minutes. But here, Indy is figuring it out on his own as he goes along. And so are we. Discovering hidden passage ways and secret societies.
Really, the only bad part is the main female character, Willie, played by Kate Capshaw, who the actress describes as “not much more than a dumb screaming blonde.” That’s pretty accurate, as she’s nearly unbearable–especially early on as she just keeps complaining about breaking a nail. It’s not funny, nor is it realistic. But the movie is so good that we can overlook this.
Temple of Doom is all that you wanted from the last film. An archaeologist and lover of the occult should be exploring underground temples or caves, not becoming trapped on a boat in the middle of the ocean. This is one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s left an impression on me my whole life, and watching it again as an adult, it definitely holds up.