The Reckoner!

Does Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom get a bum rap?

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has a nasty case of middle child syndrome.  

It's perpetually considered to be the weak leg of the original Indiana Jones trilogy (we're going to leave Kingdom of the Crystal Skull out for the time being, possibly forever), and people always seem to be seeking reasons to write it off and neglect it, namely:

  • It only has one female character, and she's annoying as hell.
  • Indy spends most of his time being a jerk, whether hypnotized or not.
  • It's slightly cartoonier than the other two, involving such unlikely events as a trio of people surviving an airplane crash in an inflatable raft.
  • It goes a little too hard for horror and sags in the middle.
  • Short Round is apparently a Yankees fan.
  • There never seems to be time for love, Dr. Jones

Well I'm taking it back, dammit! 

So what if both Spielberg and Lucas were going through nasty divorces at the time, which shows up on the screen constantly -- I don't care!  The movie is exciting as hell!  The mine cart chase scene is a riot.  The rope bridge scene at the end is almost unreal with tension.  Billie is no Marion, but at least she's got some agency, some moxie.  Short Round is awesome.  Indian shamans ripping people's hearts out through their chest is awesome.  The opening scene in the cabaret is awesome.  The movie is awesome.  The movie is also responsible for the PG-13 rating, which is awesome, kinda.

I'm tired of hearing people caveat their enjoyment of this movie.  I'm taking a stand!  I'm saying that Temple of Doom gets a bum rap, and I want to know who's with me!  Yell it, loud and clear my Reckonaut brethren!  That, or tell me that I'm horribly, horribly mistaken!

Reckoning Results!
It's awesome!
It's fine, no more.
It DOES get a bum rap!
It's a DESERVED bum rap.
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Reckoning Comments!

You're absolutely right, Dan. It had some so-so scenes in it, not digging the heart-ripped-out-of chest scenes, but many more fabulous action scenes which seemed to have been overshadowed. Now that you reminded us of all the awesomeness of this movie, I do want to see it again!

Horrible, horrible, horrible. Deserves its bum rap, and then some. It starts out with a less-than-honorable Indy shoving a fork in a woman's breast, offers monkey brains for dinner, rips out hearts... and then devolves into Chitty-chitty Bang-bang with all the kids in the mine. It's mean-spirited, dull, and derivative. 

And frankly, the only thing that saves Last Crusade for me is Sean Connery as Jones Sr.

So there!

Awesome is a strong word, but it's a lot more fun than people give it credit for.  I don't think it's notably worse than Last Crusade, and there are actually some bits that I like more than Indy III.  

The restaurant chaos where's the diamond/where's the antidote scene is Spielberg's finest moment, and I say that as a big Spielberg fan.  

'Awesome' is fairly strong - probably stronger than I would say, generally - but I do think the movie is often overlooked.

Yeah, there are some . . . iffy spots, but if you're looking at an Indy movie for accurate archaeology and history, you have bigger problems. I think it is enjoyable for what it is, and doesn't deserve as much flak as it gets.

The Reckoner!