After arriving in India, Indiana Jones is asked by a desperate village to find a mystical stone. He agrees, and stumbles upon a secret cult plotting a terrible plan in the catacombs of an ancient palace.
This is Spielberg's least favorite film he's made. In fact, he was so upset with the film, it was the main reason he wanted to make the 3rd installment of Indiana Jones (which of course lead to the fourth installment). So ironically enough, the lack of a film in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in Spielberg's world, has lead to the making of two more Indy films.
And to add more creative conflict on the film, Executive Producer and story creator George Lucas notes in the DVD supplement material that he was in a bad mood due to his divorce proceedings during the making of the film. Not to mention that Spielberg and co-star Kate Capshaw were falling in love during the film, which might of lead to a lack of focus.
This film does has its flaws as the Short Round character (played by an actor the world hasn't seen again) was a tad strange for Indiana Jones' sidesick. But it's not as bad of a movie as I thought it would be when I revisited it again. In fact, when it gets going after its midpoint, this is a very entertaining film that is filled with so many emotional ups and downs, I felt at it's ending like I just rode a roller coaster 20 times over.
The plot deals with Indiana Jones landing in India on a fluke with Shortround and Billy the lounge singer (played by Spielberg's future wife Kate Capshaw), in one of the most outrageous sequences in movie history. Let's just say that they were in China, then an airplane, a rafter boat, snowy mountains and then India in a span of 10 minutes of screen time. All the while Indy and Billy flirt with each other as Shortround delivers the best line in the film - "No time for love!". In India, they happen upon a small village that happens to have its children stolen by an ancient cult. And this is when Indiana takes over to save the day in India.
In it's most basic sense, this is a really dumb film. But it's directed by a great director who knows how to keep you entertainment and at the edge of your seat. That and the charm of actor Harrison Ford playing Indiana just forces you to keep watching. There really isn't a major theme in this film as it's really not about anything really except for pure entertainment. So for two hours, you're having a good time, but a great film is a movie that stays with you for a while. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a film that you forget about 10 seconds after the credits roll out.
One final note is that this is by far the darkest of the four films. And a PG-13 dark film at that. How they accomplished that act is amazing. There is a scene where Indiana literally gets his heart taken out of him and placed into the hands of his nemesis. A scene for the kids it is not! And this is purely a drama/action film whereas the other three Indiana films would be considered comedy/action films. In fact the comedy in the other films (especially the last two) really lead the action as we the audience are always comfortable in the stickiest of situations. In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, you know Indy and the gang will be fine, but there is a whole lot more doubt than in the other films. I remember watching this film for the first time in the theater with my father and during one climatic situation him screaming out - "How he is going to get out of this one". In the other films, you're so taken in by the joy that you would never even think of asking that question during the viewing of the film.
A fun film, but really flawed. Interesting to go back to and watch though, especially before watching the other three films.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a film to check out just for the sake of nostalgia.