06 July 2011

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

When I say that I once had a crush on Harrison Ford, I mean I HAD A CRUSH ON HARRISON FORD. Accompanying my exposure to the wonders of the original Star Wars trilogy at the age of 9, was the rugged and sarcastic Han Solo, and my first inklings of my own womanhood.

But I won't get into that.
Now that I have related this background information, I feel less awful in admitting that at one time -brace yourself- I actually liked the Indiana Jones movies. Now, don't get me wrong: Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first of the series, was rather good; a cutting-edge in action/adventure films at the time. Suddenly, leading men could be invincible [concussions and brain damage as a result of repeated punches to the skull? So yesterday, dude] and could do the most death-defying stunts and spout the wittiest one-liners while somehow remaining down-to-earth and personable. Steven Spielberg, the series' director, became the No. 1 action director of the 80's. However, after the success of that very entertaining film came a long line of insufferable sequels with no substance -or even shame- to be found in them. Entertaining perhaps, but in a way that makes you feel 12 years old and tasteless once the credits roll.

The Temple of Doom was the first of these epic-lame sequels.

Something about this poster makes me like the film even less.
After the huge success of Raiders in 1981, The Temple of Doom was an understandably huge box office hit when it came out three years later. The film grossed almost 34 million dollars nation-wide in America during its opening weekend in theaters - this is 22 million more than when Raiders was released! I'm sure that, at the time, those who paid part of those millions to see it thought that it was satisfactory "as far as sequels go" [kind of like the Harry Potter movies]. My dad related to me that he liked it back then, though he now admits [after joining me in my re-watch and analysis] that it's pretty bad. If it wasn't for the extreme nostalgic value of the film, I personally would have heartlessly added it to my "Worst Films Ever" list. Though many people view this as a "classic" just because it's an Indiana Jones movie, I'm afraid I really don't agree.

I think that the main elements of this film which make it so agonizingly annoying are the leading lady [played by a pretty but extremely unlikable Kate Capshaw] who found it necessary to scream over every little thing and have no personality whatsoever; the very stunted and you-can-tell-it-was-written-for-them dialogue [complete with terrible sexual innuendo]; the weird, shallow and lame-as-hell plot; and the random and overly long sequences of ridiculous action which go so far they exceed even "so bad it's good" territory. Ugh.

Unlike Raiders, which did all those things right [the very likable female lead Karen Allen; interesting plot and character development; fun and exciting action sequences; and engaging and funny dialogue] Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom loses you in its desperate attempt to entertain you. It's hokeyness almost felt on purpose at times, with weirdly arranged jokes or puns and occasionally silly acting. Capshaw even made fourth-wall contact with the audience at one point!

Need I say more?
In the end, it's the kind of film you watch because it's bad, because you can't get enough of Indy and his perposterous shenanigans, or not at all because you'd rather be baking a cake or putting together a bookshelf or watching Ricky Gervais' stand-up or riding a bicycle. I recommend any or all of those to watching this gigantic pile of Spielberg-scum.

4/10 "lame as hell"

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