‘Mula Ram! Prepare to meet Kali..In Hell!’
Looking Forward to Indy 5..Looking back at Temple of Doom
If Adventure has a Name..it Must be Indiana Jones. That was the tagline for TEMPLE OF DOOM. And it still stands, today.
Indiana Jones 5 is in pre-production, for a 2019 release. Timing could not be better for the Director, Steven Spielberg. He could use a hit, since BFG has been deemed a flop. That’s grossly unfair on him (the film was released in the wrong slot and disadvantaged in our era of precociously cynical Shrek style animation). But Ready Player One has started filming and should be a hit. And above all? It’s Indy 5 that everyone is most curious about.
Even the skeptics are being won round to some germ of curiosity. Every second blogger and YouTube channel has an idea for the film. Except it’s all the same idea. ‘Harrison should pass the baton at the end to Chris Pratt’. ‘It should be a prequel with Bradley Cooper or something’. ‘Marion must be in it’. ‘Marion must not be in it’. Ditto, ‘Mutt’. ‘Indy should die’. ‘Indy should definitely not die’. ‘It should be a flashback story told to Indy’s grand-children’.
No! No! No!
The one thing Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did brilliantly well was to somehow acknowledge Indiana’s age without making it a ‘thing’. He has aged, yes. He is old. But his being old is not an impediment to his machismo, determination, grit, comic timing, roguish charm and sense of the spiritual amidst the adventure.
Therefore, age should not be a ‘thing’ in Indy 5, save a few nods / winks. Yes it’s ‘there’ (like an elephant in the room, as Harrison will be approaching 80 when the film comes out). But Indy’s youth was never the key to his appeal. It is his ability to win against the odds; to fuse every-man confusion to inventive expertise and daring heroism. Keep all those qualities intact and in a self contained adventure that is neither bogged down in the character’s history nor overly concerned with his future. Make it punchy, daring, scary, fast, funny.
Where am I ‘going’ with this? Well, I suppose I am hinting at the template for Indy 5 in fact somehow lying in The Temple of Doom. Yes, the film is flawed. It lacks the literate wit and soul of The Last Crusade or the epic scope of Raiders of the Lost Ark. But it is not in fact as ‘dark’ as many think; moments of voodoo and death cult cannibalism balanced by comedy and some of the best edited and choreographed action in cinema history.
That’s a trick that other films tried and failed to copy (Golden Child; Big Trouble in Little China). Indeed, the tone here in ‘Temple‘ is upbeat; the pace unrelenting, with perfectly simplistic and symmetrical style and structure. It’s bold, innovative and yet somehow distinctly Spielberg and distinctly Indiana Jones.
You can see the ‘light’ Spielberg here (the idealism of freeing slaves; the musical number at the start) and the beginnings of mature and rich efforts (the fact that an adventure picture ‘goes’ to an area like child slavery at all: with moments of pure and palpable evil onscreen, years before Schindler’s List or Amistad).
And Harrison gives a multi-layered Indiana, moving from disbelieving skeptic and mercenary to altruistic adventurer, c/o chilling encounters with the supernatural and some back breaking (literally, as Harrison did slip a disc on the film) action moments.
In short? The definitive action-adventure film. Don’t believe me? I call Nick Clement as a witness.
Take it away, Nick..
Unquestionably my favorite film out of the series. I watched this movie 10,000 times growing up and I’ll watch it 10,000 more times in the future. Showing my son the opening credit sequence yesterday, which ranks as one of The Beard’s BEST set-pieces ever, was a joyous moment.
I can’t wait until my very own ‘Junior’ is old enough for this film to explode all over his senses. This is pure movie magic. I can’t stress how much Douglas Slocombe’s genius is all over this film. The sequence on the bridge is a tour de force.
The John Williams musical score, at this point in our culture, is beyond iconic, and it sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.
The back-and-forth banter between Harrison Ford and Kate Capshaw still makes me laugh and smile.
Yes, Raiders of the Lost Ark is probably the “best” in the series, and there’s a genuine sense of JOY about Last Crusade, but Temple of Doom has so much wanton abandon, so much excessive, sinister glee about its comic-book inspired violence and bad-assery, that it’ll forever be the one that I want to revisit the most.
ABOUT NICK CLEMENT:
After spending close to a decade working in Hollywood, Nick Clement has taken his passion for film and transitioned into a blogger and amateur reviewer, tackling old, new, and far flung titles without a care for his cerebral cortex. His latest venture: Podcasting Them Softly, finds him tackling new ground as an entertainment guru, and along with his spirited partner Frank Mengarelli, are attracting some diverse and exciting talent to their site.
Some of Nick‘s favorite filmmakers include Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese, Tony Scott, Oliver Stone, David Fincher, Werner Herzog, Terrence Malick, and Billy Wilder, and he’s a huge proponent of the “31 Flavors of Cinema” school of thought. Favorite films include The Tree of Life, Goodfellas, Heat, Back to the Future, Fitzcarraldo, Zoolander, Babe, and Enter the Void.