By Marc S. Sanders
Steven Spielberg’s second installment in the Indiana Jones series of films deserves more credit than it has received, nearly forty years later. Spielberg isn’t even fond of his film, and I think he needs to reexamine his own self-criticisms.
By the time he’d make this prequel, he was already a master filmmaker (followed by Close Encounters…, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial). Temple of Doom almost seemed easy for Spielberg to construct. He just filled in the holes from one scene to the next and he’s so natural in his instincts that the thrill of adventure never wavers, and it always feels new and fresh.
Think about it!!! He accompanies a John Williams led rendition of a Busby Berkeley number while Indy tries to escape from machine gun toting baddies in a Shanghai nightclub (called “Club Obi Wan”; nice wink and nod there).
That’s followed by an unlikely jump out of an airplane with only an inflatable water raft to glide through the heights of the sky. Reader, I bought it, and only because Spielberg shot it. He just knows what looks good on film.
The main crux of the film focuses on rescuing the enslaved captured children of an Indian village from a bloodthirsty cult while also retrieving sacred stones. Over the years as we’ve approached an age of a PC climate, many take issue with racial prejudice overtones. Do Indians eat monkey brains for dessert, and rip beating hearts out of the chests of men? I don’t care, and I don’t associate these horror/comedy moments with people of a certain race. I’m not foolhardy enough to do that.
However, I do correlate this material with what inspired the Indiana Jones character in the first place, and that is the serial cliffhangers of a forgotten age. Ridiculous stunts and outrageous visuals kept the attention of the viewer and that is what Spielberg, along with creative partner George Lucas, accomplishes here.
So you are treated to thousands of icky, crawly bugs, a screeching, off the rails mine car pursuit and a “snake surprise” as a main course dinner entree.
It’s all in good fun and it’s all shown in the campy adventure thematics that Indiana Jones was always recognized for.
Just go get your jolts every time he cracks the whip. That’s all Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom was ever meant to be.