Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Misty Water-colored Memories: Seeing Temple of Doom again

We have some kids in the house who hadn't seen the Indiana Jones movies, so we rewatched Raiders of the Lost Ark right before Christmas and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom this weekend. The one thing that stuck out about this experience is how I remembered virtually everything about the first movie, but almost nothing about the second. In my dim recollection, when Temple of Doom came out I thought it compared okay to Raiders and I probably thought the same thing a few years later when I saw it on video. But, boy, watching it again... Temple of Doom sucked! In my memory, I managed to reduce everything between the jumping out of the plane in a raft to finding the secret passage in the palace/compound to just a few minutes, while in reality it is nearly half the movie.

The middle of the movie has only one real action sequence (Indy fighting the Thugee guard in his bedroom while Ms. I'm-gonna-marry-Speilberg is in her room, expecting him to come back for lu-hu-huve), which ends of one of the longest action-free streaches of any action movie I can name. This entire part of the movie is supposed to be held together by the fish out of water antics (which are just too much after a while) and the rom-com aspects, but Capshaw acts like such a buffoon (I'm not blaming her alone... I'm sure she's written that way) that she's more a fifth-wheel second sidekick than a serious romantic interest (there seems to be no development of their relationship or even "you are turning me on" arguments until it's time for one of scenes that beat you about the head and ears with the idea that they are interested in each other). You have no idea what indy might see in her other than the fact that she's the only woman in 500 miles with all her teeth.

I remembered the clumsy exposition, that seemed to drag on through most of the movie, and the poorly executed coda but apparently thought the adventure made up for it. Ah, I was so easily amused as a you.

Bottom line: not enough action set pieces, bad pacing, terrible lead actress, too much mugging, too much "I'm not eating THAT," failed attempt at capturing Bogie-Hepburn paradigm, and really dated special effects (check out those insubstantial blue screen explosions), made accaptable only by the decent action (when it's there), one of Harrison Ford's last charming performances, and good quotable lines from the sidekick (if only Indy had heeded "No time for love, Dr. Jones" - what a wonderful movie this could have been).


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