Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Directed by Steven Speilberg. With Harrison Ford and Kate Capshaw.
Up until 2008, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was widely considered the weakest of the Indy films but thanks to CGI gophers, a flying fridge and some crystal skulls, it survives to be seen in a brand new light.
A prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, (a fact that holds little relevance for this standalone adventure), Temple of Doom takes the horror themes of the former and cranks up the volume. The horror aspects of the story, which account for the lions share of the run-time, still startle as to both their intensity and severity. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine any other ‘family’ film past or present that shares the same sustained tone of nastiness.
As Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford is once again outstanding. From his nod to Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca introduction, his comic timing and effortless charm carry the movie through its weaker moments.
Fairing not quite so well, is ‘Indy-girl’, Kate Capshaw whose performance consists of reacting – mostly screaming and being a general irritation. One camp-fire comic set-piece will have you reaching for the earplugs, as Capshaw looks to out-Wray Fay for the loudest and longest screams in cinematic history. It’s a lot to endure and unfortunately, similar moments are dotted all over the film.
Screams aside, Steven Speilberg manages to keep us invested, thanks in part to Ford’s irresistible charisma and the many genuine thrills. Of all the ‘Jones‘ films, Doom is most straight-up B-movie trash; the minecart chase, the nightclub dust up, tumbling over cliffs, the rope bridge standoff…it sometimes seems as though Spielberg, Lucas & co are in the mood to indulge themselves.
So, while it features human sacrifice, child slaves, evil cults, voodoo dolls and chilled monkey brains, it’s never anything less than entertaining throughout with another rip-roaring John Williams musical score that once again seamlessly blends a variety of memorable themes.
You could possibly let your kids watch it, but they might need to leave the light on when they go to bed…for the rest of their childhood.