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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Sucks / Rocks
© RevolutionSF
May 22, 2008

In the second Indiana Jones movie, anything went.

Temple of Doom Sucks

The opening musical number. Even with the title Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom appearing almost immediately, movie-goers in 1984 must have wondered if they wandered into the wrong theater. The nightclub singing, okay, fine, but then there’s that fantasy musical sequence with dozens of chorus girls in silver costumes on a sparkling disembodied stage, performing splits and then (courtesy of the footage running backwards) magically bouncing back up from those splits. Seriously, what the hell? -- RevSF movie editor Jason Myers

Bugs. You know the bugs scene originated with George and Steven sitting around, having a beer, wondering how to top the snakes from Raiders. I figure given the amount of bugs, they were well into their second case when they came up with this. -- Deanna Toxopeus

The glaring continuity error of making Temple of Doom a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. In Raiders of the Lost Ark (set in 1936), when Marcus Brody talks about the supernatural significance of The Ark, Indiana Jones replies, “I don’t believe in magic, a lot of superstitious hocus-pocus," just barely stopping short of “no mystical energy field controls MY destiny. It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense."

Indiana’s materialistic philosophy is a little hard to believe, given that, in Temple of Doom (set a year earlier, in 1935), Indiana nearly gets his heart torn out by an evil shaman. Then Indy causes a bag of rocks to glow forth with supernatural heat just by chanting about how the shaman betrayed Shiva; and finally he tells a village elder “Yes, I understand its [the stone’s] power now." What makes this particularly annoying is that, from what I can tell, there’s absolutely no real plot-related reason to set Temple of Doom in 1935 instead of 1936 or 1937. -- Jason Myers

Willie. This woman rolled back all the gains of feminism than anyone in the previous 30 years. I blame her for the hip-hop dancer phenomenon. -- RevSF staff writer Deanna Toxopeus

The physics of the whip. Temple of Doom in particular stretches my suspension of disbelief in this area. I admit that I’m no weapons expert, but if I’m gonna believe that you can use a whip to grab a hold of things and swing from them (sure, why not?), then I have a hard time believing that you can subsequently retrieve your whip just by flicking your wrist. Also, when Indy uses his whip to lower himself into the Temple of Doom, the whip seems to grow incredibly long. Finally, I suppose it’s possible that Indy could use his whip to grab Kate Capshaw around the waist without really hurting her. But wait, if it is possible, then why not show the whip going around her waist, or around her stunt double’s waist, instead of just having a whip-crack sound effect and cutting to a shot of Kate Capshaw all wrapped up? -- Jason Myers

Temple of Doom Rocks

The Swordsman scene. Indy reaching for the gun and realizing it is not there. Nice. -- Deanna Toxopeus

Short Round. It was 15 years or more since I saw Temple of Doom, so, as I sat down to rewatch it, I was fully prepared to be annoyed by Short Round, since very few scrappy, cute, pre-pubescent comic-relief characters are actually as loveable as they’re cracked up to be. Turns out I really dig Short Round. Yeah, his kung fu is unconvincing, but no more so than Marion Ravenwood’s wielding of oversized metal lunchboxes. And Short Round makes an excellent foil for Indy. For proof, see the scene where Indy and Short Round attempt to cheat each other at cards, and the chamber of spikes sequence when Short Round continually yells “it’s not my fault." -- Jason Myers

If you listen carefully, you can hear a sound effect identical to the one in The Empire Strikes Back when the Millennium Falcon whines and sputters. -- Jason Myers

The mine car chase. No single action sequence in the first three Indy movies can compare to the mine car chase. It’s ambitious, breath-taking, filmed and edited with astonishing virtuosity.

It’ll never be duplicated or bettered. I’m not a luddite about movie CG, but this is definitely an instance where there is no substitute for old-fashioned model and miniature work. No CG mine cart sequence could possibly be as visceral, as thrilling, or as physically convincing, no matter how much computer generated camera shake or pixelated grit they programmed into it. -- Jason Myers


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