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 seen as the weakest of the Indy films, but thanks to CGI gophers, a fridge and some crystal skulls, it survives to be seen in a whole 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 turns the volume up considerably. The horror aspects of the story, which account for the lions share of the run-time, often amaze and startle as to 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 introduction, his comic timing and effortless charm carry the film through some of its weaker moments. Fairing not quite so well, is ‘Indy-girl’, Kate Capshaw whose entire performance consists mostly of screaming and being a general irritation. One camp-fire comic set piece will have you reaching for the earplugs, as Capshaw looks to break a world record for the loudest and longest screams in scene. It’s a lot to endure, and unfortunately, similar moments are dotted all over the film.
Screams aside, director Steven Speilberg always manages to keep us heavily invested, thanks in part to Ford’s irresistible charisma and the many genuine thrills. Of all the ‘Jones’ films to date, this is the one, despite the darkness, that feels closest to the straight-up adventure of Saturday afternoon matinee’s that inspired Spielberg and writer George Lucas in the first place.
So, Temple of Doom might feature human sacrifice, child slaves, evil cults, voodoo dolls and chilled monkey brains, but it’s never anything less than entertaining throughout with another rip-roaring musical score from maestro John Williams, and more than few iconic moments to lash your whip at. 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. 4/5