Friday, May 25, 1984
Doomed to succeed
Harrison Ford (left) stars as archeologist/adventurer Indiana Jones in 'In- Kate Capshaw (center) and Ke Huy Quan (right) also star as allies of Jones
diana Jones and the Temple of Doom's prequel to 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.' as he again tempts fate at a strange temple in India.
By Richard Campbell
WAS IT WORTH the three-year
wait? Was it worth standing in the
rain for an hour to attend the Ann Arbor
midnight premiere? Was it worth the
$4.50 ticket price?
Indiana Jones and the Temple of
Doom, whatever its minor faults, has
more fun, more talent, and more ad-
venture for your movie dollar than any
other film likely to be released this
summer (and that includes Gremlins).
As Steven Spielberg's latest attempt
to put the fun back into movies, Temple
of Doom may not explore the most im-
portant issues of life, but it does over-
whelmingly succeed ina genre that baf-
fles lesser talents.
If you want a quick education in
making movies, simply go and see any
Spielberg flick. The now-not-so-young
boy wonder is a master at moving the
camera, in-frame compositions,
dynamic blocking,. lighting, and
editing. Even when another director is
able to get a good cast and script
together, it is Spielberg's control of the
medium that sets his films apart and
generates such audience enthusiasm.
For anyone that has seen Raiders of
the Lost Ark, the plot of Temple of
Doom won't be too surprising. The
film opens with Indiana barely
escaping from one predicament,
follows him as he is persuaded to sear-
ch for a lost relic, continues as he gets
into a bunch of trouble, and then ends
with his triumph.
Within this generic . formula,
however, Spielberg and
producer/writer George Lucas have
managed to pack enough adventure to
fill a dozen average adventure pictures.
Yet although half of these escapades areic
patently unrealistic, they create a fic-
tional world where the extraordinary
becomes commonplace, where heroes
beat the bad guys only through the
grace of god, and where the understan-
ding of love and mystery is the ultimate
Indiana Jones is set apart from the
majority of movie heroes because he is
not an omniscient protagonist such as
James Bond. Jones almost never knows
what is going on. We can identify more
easily with his struggles than we can
with the never nonplussed secret agent.
As variously underplayed and
overacted by Harrison Ford, Jones
succeeds in spite of himself, through
feisty determination and brains rather
than suave superficiality.
Temple of Doom outdoes Raiders in
terms of wild, madcap fun and thrills,
but in its attempt to add depth to the
plot, sacrifices clarity for complexity.
After the noisy Nazis of Raiders,
Spielberg gave us the quiet warmth of
E.T. and the "Kick the Can" segment of
Twilight Zone. The world's most suc-
cessful director has combined those two
textures in Temple of Doom, presenting
us an Indiana Jones who decides to
rescue both a stolen artifact and
children kidnapped for slave labor.
This sentimentality mixes sur-
prisingly well with Indy's character,
but causes an uneven tempo in the
third-quarter of the film. Jones' moral
descision was made at the beginning of
the film, yet Spielberg constructs a
melodramatic scene near the end that
amounts to little more than a recap and
thus rings a tad hollow.
But, nobody attends an Indiana Jones
adventure to examine its morality. If
Raiders was a whirlwind of excitement,
Temple of Doom may just give you a
heart attack. When people say this film
is non-stop entertainment, they mean
continuous, no-holds-barred, faster-
than-a-speeding-bullet fun. Not even
the few sedate scenes of plot ex-
planation are free from some sort of
humor or visual joke.
From the opening sequence with its
intricately edited and choreographed
dance-fight to the final roller-coaster of
a chase through a mine, Temple of
Doom never stops.
Though the film is no more violent
than Raiders, the thrills and chills are
greater. It's a great summer escape pic
and a vivid example of what a generic
film looks like when made by masters
of the medium
... directing a classic