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Paramount Studios presents
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Willie Scott: You're gonna get killed chasing after your damn fortune and glory!
Indiana Jones: Maybe. But not today.

- Kate Capshaw, Harrison Ford

Review By: Brian Calhoun   
Published: November 16, 2003

Stars: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan
Other Stars: Amrish Puri, Roshan Seth, Philip Stone
Director: Steven Spielberg

MPAA Rating: PG for violence, brief language
Run Time: 01h:58m:18s
Release Date: October 21, 2003
UPC: 097360612547
Genre: adventure


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-AB+ C

DVD Review

At the risk of enduring the wrath of Indiana Jones fans around the globe, I will come right out and state that I believe Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to be quite a disappointment. It certainly does have all the right elements of an Indiana Jones adventure—a breathtaking pace, thrilling action sequences, an interesting story, and, of course, Harrison Ford as the daring archaeologist, Indiana Jones. However, the film suffers greatly from a lack of direction. The story and subject matter are dark and somber while the dialogue is lighthearted and silly. The result is a somewhat exasperating experience.

Temple of Doom takes place three years prior to the events in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Opening in a nightclub in Shanghai, we find Dr. Jones once again barely escaping with his life when he is poisoned by a nemesis in a deal gone sour. After a frenetic brawl in the club, Jones escapes on a cargo plane along with his new sidekick, a child named Short Round (Ke Huy Quan), as well as Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw), a songstress who reluctantly becomes caught up in the chaotic events at the nightclub. Little time passes before the plane crashes in India, where Jones, Short Round, and Willie find themselves answering to the pleas of the people in a remote village, whose children have been stolen along with a magical artifact. Soon, the trio find themselves on the way to Pankot Palace, where it is believed that the children reside as slaves under a cult named the Thuggee, long presumed extinct.

Spielberg may be mostly to blame for the unevenness of Temple of Doom. George Lucas apparently wanted to create a much darker installment with Temple, and Spielberg was taken aback by Lucas' story involving black magic and gruesome cult ceremonies. As a way of counteracting the extreme subject matter, Spielberg inundated the film with playful moments that seem all too out of place with the story. In doing so, he has greatly narrowed the suitable audience for this film: Temple is far too intense and violent for children under twelve, yet much too childish for anyone over the age of fourteen.

The characters are another reason for the ineptitude of Temple. Short Round is a frequently annoying presence that weakens the dramatic flow of the film. He has been inserted to appeal to the kids, yet I have no idea who the annoying Willie Scott is supposed to appeal to. She is obviously a weak attempt at comic relief, but I only found myself annoyed by her shenanigans.

Gripes aside, Temple of Doom does have its impressive qualities. The movie is a marvel to gaze upon, as it boasts awe-inspiring cinematography and set design. I had not seen the film in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio since its initial release in 1984, and I am amazed by how well Spielberg utilizes the widescreen frame. Much of the film is incredibly fun, complete with terrific action sequences such as the mine car chase, which is the cinematic equivalent of a theme park roller-coaster ride.

My level of amusement is why I am granting Temple of Doom a mild recommendation. I did enjoy this second Indiana Jones adventure, even though I found it unbelievably exasperating. If they had eliminated the horrendous dialogue and the childish elements, Temple of Doom could have been a superior film. It may seem like blasphemy to the diehard fans, but I hope that technology will one day grant me with an "interactive" version of Temple of Doom, where I can create my own cut of the film as I see fit.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: As impressed as I was with the image transfer for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom looks even better. I have seen many transfers of recent films that appear nowhere near as stunning as this 2.35:1 anamorphically enhanced picture. The entire aesthetic is clean, clear, and highly detailed. Black level is exemplary, as is the remarkable color saturation. I marveled at the vibrancy of the opening chase through Shanghai and the sheer detail of the India jungle. Edge enhancement is virtually non-existent, adding to the film-like splendor of the image. This is one of the finer restoration efforts I have seen.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: While excellent, the 5.1 audio on Temple of Doom is a small step back from the Raiders of the Lost Ark soundtrack. Overall fidelity is somewhat anemic, and the high end exhibits a slightly shrill quality. The low end is appropriate, though not quite as deep and powerful as what I heard on Raiders. Surround use is somewhat restrained and predominately reserved for highly aggressive moments. Dialogue remains superior with a beautifully round tonal quality. While it is audibly evident that this 5.1 remastering effort is merely a tweaked 2.0 soundtrack, it is nevertheless an impressive upgrade that makes for a thrilling complement to the film.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 31 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:00m:04s

Extras Review: While the majority of extras for the Indiana Jones Trilogy boxed set are contained on the fourth bonus disc, each individual disc offers a weblink to the Indiana Jones DVD web site.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

Too intense for youngsters but too silly for adults, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a somewhat maddening film. It is still, however, a worthy entry in the Indiana Jones saga, filled with excitement and executed with flair. While I must express my disappointment for what could have been a much better film, it is undeniably a treat to have any Indiana Jones film finally grace our beloved format.

 


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