Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Blu-ray Review

In today’s world of cinema, it may be hard to imagine a time when there were very few sequels being made. Even harder, perhaps, to grasp the reality – they were usually reserved for the fantastically successful or beloved films of an era (as a general rule). So, if you made RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) and felt like there were more Indiana Jones adventures to tell, what would you do? In the case of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg the answer can be found in a film titled INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM.

Harrison Ford, Jonathan Ke Quan, Kate Capshaw

Filling out the key second film of a would-be franchise has had both phenomenal results (see: THE GODFATHER: PART II) and terrible repercussions (see: CADDYSHACK 2, 1988). About the best thing that can be said about INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM is that it (along with a few other films, including POLTERGEIST) spurred the creation of a new rating – PG13. A hallmark in the timeline of American cinema, no doubt, but what about the movie itself, you ask? Well, it creates a few great cinematic moments that live on (click the link to see our top 10 list of Indiana Jones’ moments). But, in the end, they’re lucky this weak-sauce entry did not completely tarnish the name of Indiana Jones (though that may be more attributable to the charisma of Harrison Ford than anything else).

Amrish Puri (as Mola Ram)

Everything about this entry feels like a bad joke, from the ‘wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say-no-more’ nods to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to the laughable casting of a child sidekick and a terrible female lead. I admit, when I was younger I really liked the character of Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan as Ke Huy Quan, Data from THE GOONIES, 1985). He’s a cute kid and he does have some chemistry with Ford’s Indiana Jones. The problem lies in the storytelling – very little is done here to really establish how and why Dr. Jones has this relationship, let alone why it didn’t exist at all during the first film. Which brings me to my other major issue. Gone is the pretty, talented Marion (Karen Allen), who held her ground firmly with the rough and tumble Indiana Jones. In her place (without explanation) is new interest Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw). Willie’s character is one-dimensional and Capshaw is quite frankly out of her element, leaving me to wonder why in the world she was cast in this film.

Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, and Jonathan Ke Quan

Sometimes movie trailers are misleading. Sometimes they give away too much info. But every once in a while they tip the hat and (perhaps subconsciously?) give away some major insight. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but watching the Theatrical Trailer’s now it is easy to see how well regarded the story was for this terrible sequel. Despite trying desperately to appeal to a broader audience (with these one-dimensional character add-ons) the trailer boasts names – Lucas! Spielberg! Ford! – and then gives a list of the locations used in the shoot. But unlike RAIDERS, which used each location as a living character in which anything could happen, INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM feels constantly poised at the precipice – watching and waiting for something of consequence to happen, never actually getting anywhere.

Harrison Ford and Kate Capshaw

For those of you nostalgic for the memories of watching this film when you were younger – the special effects have not aged well and you’re likely better off with your good memories. For those of you who still harbor a love for this movie (or those of you who just love Indiana Jones no matter how bad the movie), you’ll get exactly what is advertised here – heavy camp with little substance. If I could have purchased the Indiana Jones set without this movie, I would have been happy.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video: (1080p, 2.35:1 Widescreen) The video is beautifully done, though HD doesn’t help the now aged special effects. Still, you will feel right next to Dr. Jones on this adventure.

Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Paramount did a great job with the sound – it is amazing how much better it plays compared to the DVDs I bought just a few years ago. Very nicely done.

The Blu-ray of INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM features only the two trailers, the Teaser Trailer (01:00), the Theatrical Trailer (01:26).

OVERALL 2.5
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