The second of the George Lucas/Steven Spielberg Indiana Jones epics is set a year or so before the events in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1984). After a brief brouhaha involving a precious vial and a wild ride down a raging Himalyan river, Indy (Harrison Ford) gets down to the problem at hand: retrieving a precious gem and several kidnapped young boys on behalf of a remote East Indian village. His companions this time around include a dimbulbed, easily frightened nightclub chanteuse (Kate Capshaw), and a feisty 12-year-old kid named Short Round (Quan Ke Huy). Throughout, the plot takes second place to the thrills, which include a harrowing rollercoaster ride in an abandoned mineshaft and Indy's rescue of the heroine from a ritual sacrifice. There are also a couple of cute references to Raiders of the Lost Ark, notably a funny variation of Indy's shooting of the Sherpa warrior.
Its hard to imagine that a film with worldwide box office receipts topping $300 million worldwide could be labeled a disappointment, but some moviegoers considered Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
, the second installment in Steven Spielberg and George Lucas 1980s adventure trilogy, to be just that. That doesnt mean its a bad effort; any collaboration between these two cinema giants (Spielberg directed, while Lucas provided the story and was executive producer) is bound to have more than its share of terrific moments, and Temple of Doom
is no exception. But in exchanging the very real threat of Nazi Germany for the cartoonish Thuggee cult, it loses some of the heft of its predecessor (Raiders of the Lost Ark
); on the other hand, its also the darkest and most disturbing of the three films, what with multiple scenes of children enslaved, a heart pulled out of a mans chest, and the immolation of a sacrificial victim, which makes it less fun than either Raiders
or The Last Crusade
, notwithstanding a couple of riotous chase scenes and impressively grand sets. Many fans were also less than thrilled with the new love interest, a spoiled, querulous nightclub singer portrayed by Kate Capshaw, but a cute kid sidekick ("Short Round," played by Ke Huy Quan) and, of course, the ever-reliable Harrison Ford as the cynical-but-swashbuckling hero more than make up for that characters shortcomings.
A six-minute introduction by Lucas and Spielberg is the prime special feature, with both men candidly addressing the films good and bad points (Lucas points out that the second Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back, was also the darkest of the original three; as for Spielberg, the fact that the leading lady would soon become his wife was the best part of the whole trip). Also good are "The Creepy Crawlies," a mini-doc about the thousands of snakes, bugs, rats and other scary critters that populate the trilogy, and "Travels with Indy," a look at some of the films cool locations. Storyboards and a photo gallery are included as well. --Sam Graham