Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory

No 233 - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Director - Steven Spielberg

Well... Whilst the sight of a Nazi's face melting off may be a dark ending to Raiders of the Lost Ark, it is nothing compared to the outright horror that makes up Temple of Doom.... We are in for some rough times in our PG rating. Some tough times indeed.

However, firstly, Spielberg lulls us into a false sense of security by offering what must be the campest introduction in all of his career:

So... we're in the fab 30's before war has broken out and before Raiders has taken place... And Indy is getting himself into trouble - and after an awesome little shoot out we are saddled with Indy's new sidekicks for the film....

and this is where Temple of Doom falters. After the excellent double bill of Sallah and Marion, leaving us with Willie and Short Round feels like a punishment. Especially as most of their character seems built around screaming.
In fact about 95% of Willie's screen time is scream time. That pun is gold!.

Short Round at least has some redeeming features, I particularly like the sheer idolisation with which Jonathan 'Booby Traps' Ke Quan plays towards Indy. The little moments that they share and which aren't shouting are quite gentle.
It creates a father son relationship of sorts, which plays nicely with the ladies man which was painted in film 1.

However, what I really want to talk about are the Thuggee - again we are plunged head first into an interesting tale of folklore and mythology, kept entertained by disgusting meals, sexual farcery and rollicking mine carts.... The set pieces are huge and audacious, but they all pale to the sheer horror of the villains.

The Thuggee are a genuine old Hindu cult, and whilst Wikipedia does describe some of their actions and beliefs - nothing prepares me for the horrors in this.... A FAMILY FILM.

If we ignore the torture and child abuse which runs rampant throughout this - the scenes involving human sacrifice are probably the scariest thing I've ever seen in a PG which doesn't involve Skeksis!

The film rattles on at a marvellous pace, and tells a great story. The set pieces are large and bombastic, but for me - everything is just slightly outweighed by the annoyance of Willie (who really does very little of use) and by the nightmarish qualities of the film.