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Overall Rating
3.69

Awesome34.02%
Worth A Look: 26.8%
Average: 21.65%
Pretty Bad: 9.28%
Total Crap: 8.25%

3 reviews, 79 user ratings


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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
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by Scott Weinberg

"Indiana Jones and the two least talented screenwriters on Earth."
4 stars

If you've ever wanted a crystal clear example of how integral a quality screenplay is, look no further than Chapter 2 of Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones series. Sure, it's got the trademark Spielberg charm, a gruff and lovable Harrison Ford, and more action scenes than Jerry Bruckheimer's wettest dream...but that SCREENPLAY...yech!

Exhibit A: George Lucas, Philip Kaufman and Lawrence Kasdan worked on the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark. This trio of filmmakers has brought us the original Star Wars trilogy, The Right Stuff, The Big Chill, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Body Heat, The Wanderers, American Graffiti, Henry & June, The Accidental Tourist, Silverado, and the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Exhibit B: The screenwriters for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom were Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, the husband-wife "writing" duo who brought the world More American Graffiti, Best Defense, French Postcards, Radioland Murders, and the immortal Howard the Duck. Since Lucas bankrolled most of these turds, I'm guessing that Huyck/Katz and Lucas were old bong-buddies in college. Nothing else can explain how two such wretched screenwriters could get consistent work in Hollywood...let alone land the opportunity to pen one of the world's most anticipated sequels.

Make no mistake: My assertation is that everything bad in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is the fault of these two insipid writers, and everything good belongs to Spielberg, Ford, and that funny little Asian kid.

Would the Spielberg you know write a scene in which people drink eyeball soup and snack on monkey brains? Keep in mind that this is a director who digitally removed guns AND the word "terrorist" from his masterpiece E.T. because he thought they were too intense. So what to make of a PG-rated (more on that in a bit) Spielberg adventure that shows a man getting his heart torn from his chest while he stares at it screaming? My bet is that Huyck & Katz were Lucas' cronies from day one, and despite the fact that Spielberg is 50 times the director that George Lucas is - we're talking about 1984 here. Lucas was the boss on this flick.

So what we're left with is a whole lot of classic Spielberg moments that are constantly covered with crap thanks to the combined efforts of Lucas and his two clueless writers. Did the perpetually screaming female HAVE to be a nonstop whiner, complaining about bugs, stinky elephants and broken fingernails? Maybe in a ripoff produced by the Cannon company, but surely not in a Steven Spielberg film. My guess is that Mr. Spielberg was forced to chew on the inside his cheek for hours on end while filming the now-infamous banquet sequence, one that overused the 'shock value gag' device to a moronic degree.

Plot-wise, there's not much here except a framework on which to hang the fast-paced and colorful adventures of Indiana Jones. Though the action sequences are plentiful, none of them even come close to any random scene from Raiders. For no discernable reason, Temple of Doom takes place a few years before Raiders, and the film opens with our intrepid archaeologist escaping from some decidedly unsavory Asian villains.

Teamed up with the ever-annoying Willie Scott and mumble-mouthed sidekick Short Round, Indy (through a series of adventures culminating in a truly retarded leap from an airplane) winds up in a sparse Indian village. Seems the local children have all been kidnapped and converted into slaves for the local evil priests. The priests are searching for the holy Sankara stones, and the slaves spend most of their time mining for these artifacts. Child slavery; that touchstone of classic family adventure films.

Following the aforementioned gore-banquet, our trio of heroes discover the missing children, and logically it's up to Indy to save the day. He does this despite the screenwriter's insistence to make the entire affair as inane and unrealistic as possible. Spielberg presents a half-dozen fantastic action scenes which inevitably end with another painful contribution from Huyck and Katz.

"Water! Water!" Indy cries as his shoes burn - right before a massive wall of water surrounds the hero. Must have been funny on paper. When Indy is trading a vial of 'Nurhachi' ashes to a dangerous thug, Willie sagely intones, "This Nurhachi is one small guy!" Every time I see this bit I cringe in anticipation - and the retarded dialogue obliterates the scene every single time. Steven Spielberg wisely married the actress who plays Willie (Kate Capshaw) - one can only assume Steve married her so he'd have the power to keep her out of any future chapters.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom does have many worthwhile components in common with the original, so it still manages to be quite the entertaining movie. But it doesn't have 1/10th the charm of Raiders and none of the wit of Last Crusade. Temple of Doom was a no-brainer sequel, in that it's clearly a movie with a massive built-in audience, but my theory is that with a quality script - as opposed to this 'kitchen-sink' approach employed by Lucas' golfing buddies - it could have possibly approached the classic status of its predecessor.

As it stands, Temple of Doom is no more than an entertaining adventure flick, but given the quality of the film before it (to say nothing of the man behind the camera), this one should have been a classic. Perhaps best remembered as 'the movie that gave birth to the PG-13 rating', Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is certainly worthy of a Saturday night viewing, but don't be surprised if you feel this little nagging feeling throughout the whole movie. That's your brain telling you that you're enjoying a movie despite the most noticable components, and not because of them.

I'm guessing that Spielberg may agree with me, because Huyck and Katz were never approached to work on Indy III, and I'm fairly certain he doesn't send them Christmas cards anymore either. Temple of Doom is lots of escapist fun mired amidst one pathetic screenplay.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=2295&reviewer=128
originally posted: 06/19/02 13:11:07
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell good but 2 gory 4 stars
9/04/16 carl J Harrison Ford's fine but Willie and Short Round should have fallen out of the dingy. 2 stars
3/30/16 Aj wales My second best. Fun and never boring. 5 stars
12/06/15 johnnyfaye This isn't a great film, maybe even bad, but the ending is an unbelievable thrill ride. 2 stars
12/01/15 Lisa H The tone is all over the place and Kate Capshaw is pain in the ass. 1 stars
7/18/15 Cal L An incoherent mess with Indy being stuck with two of the most annoying characters ever. 1 stars
4/25/15 OCD Geek To be fair, Huyck & Katz also wrote the original American Graffiti and original Star Wars. 4 stars
12/14/12 roscoe my favorite in the series. 5 stars
12/11/12 Jem Not as good as Raiders of the lost ark. Nowhere near. 1 stars
3/01/12 jcar a good sequel with lot of greats stunts and effects, ford is awesome , the heroine stinks. 4 stars
1/04/12 Flipsider HORRIBLE screenplay drags this movie down. Capshaw SUCKS. 2 stars
2/25/11 Jean One helluva Rollercosterride. Dark, funny and fast. Best of the Quadrilogy. 5 stars
6/11/10 Flathead King This is one disgusting and sick movie. 1 stars
1/30/09 PAUL SHORTT AN OBVIOUS STEP DOWN FROM ITS PREDECESSOR, TOO MUCH BRUTALITY AND HORROR 3 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. good and enjoyable. 4 stars
6/10/08 Johnnyfaye An okay movie saved by an amazing puls pounding ending 3 stars
4/30/08 David Cohen Indiana Jones and the annoying, worthless co-stars 2 stars
3/30/08 Pamela White Harrison at his best 5 stars
1/18/08 Dannyboy Classic adventure, but inconsistent story makes it the weakest of the 3.. gotta love shorty 4 stars
1/07/08 Aaron Commareri Not as great as the first one, but still worth a look. 4 stars
11/12/07 mark madsen I love Indiana Jones movies 5 stars
11/11/07 reddye5 The darkest one. Very different from the first. It moves quickly. I liked it a lot. 4 stars
6/15/07 Vincent Ebriega Underappreciated as a sequel. This is definitely as good as its predecessor. 5/5. 5 stars
6/01/07 R.W. Welch Has almost none of the pizzaz of episode one. 3 stars
12/29/06 David Pollastrini not as good as the first 3 stars
2/11/06 Anthony Indiana Jones Almost in hell ?????? 3 stars
8/28/05 Quigley the awesome mine cart chase can't redeem this one. it's too dark and sometimes disturbing. 3 stars
8/26/05 EZ Letdown, gross, and Capshaw sucked 2 stars
5/27/05 tony alright film. sometimes scary and horrific scenes. 3 stars
3/31/05 Katherine Frazier great movie 5 stars
3/25/05 indrid cold Great action/adventure. It only looks bad in comparison to Raiders. 5 stars
1/19/05 Aaron Smith I loved Kate Capshaw, but Short Round annoying. 4 stars
1/04/05 t-1000 the mine cart chase is cheesy! the bridge scene saves this film, though 3 stars
12/27/04 mjoc Huge disapointment. Kate Capshaw is awful! 2 stars
10/16/04 Denise I love indy 5 stars
9/10/04 keithers.. watching the making of...steven let lucas...do what he wanted with this one..and it shows 3 stars
8/19/04 courtney love the rail cart scene have to see movie 5 stars
6/11/04 Maribel More like comedy kinda scary than action-adventure. Watch the other two instead. 3 stars
5/05/04 dead next door better than crucade,but that aint saying much cos it was totally crap. 3 stars
3/27/04 Littlepurch. Worst of the 3 but the rail cart scene MUST become a classic! 4 stars
1/18/04 Eric Awesome and thrilling action make this a great thrill ride. 5 stars
1/15/04 Samuel the best of the series. 4 stars
12/14/03 Joe Weakest story of the series, but also has the best and most thrilling action. Ford rocks. 5 stars
12/07/03 john my favorite in this wonderful series - the action is sensational 5 stars
11/09/03 Eddie Fan This was better then the first and third movie! Excellent movie! The best. 5 stars
11/02/03 John Bale Lacking pace of the first Indiana flick and a heavy dose of horror, but still remarkable 4 stars
11/02/03 Skilly Skally yeah, cool because of HF and SS but otherwise inferior to Raiders and Crusade 4 stars
10/26/03 Erik Van Sant Yeah...Parts of this really stink. But I loved it when I was a kid. George Lucas blows ass. 4 stars
9/06/03 Dimitri Aubert Good start, but overall disapointing movie. 3 stars
8/09/03 Will Green Yeah, it's the best of the trilogy. IT'S ALSO MY CHILDHOOD, FUCKERS 5 stars
3/21/03 defranco73 The third best of the trilogy, behind Raiders and Last Crusade. 5 stars
3/04/03 Jack Sommersby The best of the series. 4 stars
2/07/03 Eric 3rd best adventure film ever, behind only Last Crusade and Raiders. 5 stars
1/29/03 T-man The mine cart chase was fucking retarded 2 stars
7/12/02 KMG Boring 3 stars
7/04/02 gary vidmar I really enjoyed this film, despite you critics. 5 stars
6/25/02 Charles Tatum Kate Capshaw- The Most Annoying Character Ever 2 stars
5/13/02 Dark Baron Entertainment at its best. Can't wait for the DVD. 5 stars
4/03/02 Stephanie Throckmorton Almost infinite improvement over predecessor; action and romantic setting exquisite! 5 stars
3/17/02 Zargo entertaining 4 stars
1/18/02 David A. Tried to outdo "Raiders" with more gore and special effects but forgot the story. 1 stars
9/29/01 Phoenix Awsome. Never lets us breath for a second. 5 stars
8/21/01 Monster W. Kung A very worthy sequel, although different from the first. 4 stars
8/07/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) George Lucas & Steven Spielberg make a great team for such a greatgory family action flick. 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Ugh...um, I have to like it because of Indy, but not the best of the three. 4 stars
5/02/01 sharkey Good, but not great. Too slow for an Indy film. 4 stars
4/02/01 Jesse L Suffers by comparison with the other two 3 stars
2/16/01 lisa i never walk out of a movie but........ 1 stars
2/11/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi It kicks enough ass on its own, but compared to the other two it's no great shakes. 4 stars
12/09/00 fifu it is entertain for action but nothing else 3 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla this movie wasn't that great, and those gory scenes should've made it R-rated, not PG. 4 stars
11/24/00 The Evil Penguin Although this is one of my favorite films, I think this is the worst of the Series 5 stars
9/07/00 movie knower this movie is like the old stupid adventure movies from the 50's.total crap. 1 stars
5/31/00 danilo A BREATH OF FRESH AIR - MUCH BETTER THAN CRUSADE 5 stars
5/05/00 matt Not as good as the other 2 but stil a great movie 5 stars
2/27/00 Jana This one is second only to Raiders. 5 stars
1/24/00 Casey Jarzabek OVERRATED 1 stars
1/20/00 Jedi15 Don't listen to that idiot Mic. This movie is great! Better than the third! 5 stars
11/29/99 Mic I didn't like Raiders as much as most but this has to be the worst in the series. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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  02-Jul-1984 (PG)

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