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Steven Spielberg
Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Amrish Puri, Roshan Seth, Philip Stone, Roy Chiao, Jonathan Ke Quan
Writing Credits:
George Lucas, Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz

If adventure has a name ... it must be Indiana Jones.

Follow Indy from one cliffhanger to another in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Disc 2). After barely escaping a raging Shanghai nightclub brawl, Indy crash-lands into the wilds of India where he uncovers a sinister scheme that has enslaved a remote village's children in a fortress-like mine. Indy must save the children and avoid becoming a slave himself to the evil Thuggee cult. Along for the raucous rescue attempt is Indy's pint-sized sidekick, Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) as well as a reluctant nightclub songbird, Willie Scott (Kate Capshw). Join Indy as he outwits bloodthirsty villains and experiences the spectacular twists and turns of a thrilling mine car chase in the ultimate roller coaster adventure on DVD.

Box Office:
$28 million.
Domestic Gross
$179.870 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 5/13/2008

• “The Temple of Doom: An Introduction” Featurette
• “The Creepy Crawlies” Featurette
• “Travel With Indy: Locations” Featurette
• Storyboards: The Mine Cart Chase
• Galleries
• “Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures Game” Trailer and PC Game Demo


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Special Edition (1984)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 5, 2008)

For those of us in our teens during 1984, I can’t overstate the eagerness with which we ran to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. We kids adored 1981’s classic Raiders of the Lost Ark and simply couldn’t wait to check out the sequel.

I could overstate the disappointment we felt, for most of us actually enjoyed Temple. However, few – if any – of us thought it remotely lived up to the joys of Raiders. While an entertaining flick in its own right, Doom didn’t measure up with its amazing predecessor.

A prequel to Raiders, Temple opens in Shanghai circa 1935. Archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) deals to retrieve a diamond from a gangster in Hong Kong. A ruckus ensues, and Jones has to make a rapid escape from the baddies, aided by his young Asian pal Short Round (Ke Huy Quan). Along the way, cabaret singer Wilhelmina “Willie” Scott (Kate Capshaw) gets brought along for the ride. The gangsters’ reach extends to the pilots who fly Indy, Willie and Short Round, and this leads the trio to get stranded somewhere in India.

While there, they learn the curse of a local village. A nasty force has kidnapped their children and brought ruin to their land after they stole a sacred stone that protects the area. Indy decides to help them and get to the bottom of the case, partially because the missing token seems to be a priceless artifact. This leads him to the estate of a young maharajah (Raj Singh), the land’s nominal leader. Indy soon finds that a wicked cult called the Thuggees really run the realm, though, and led by the evil priest Mola Ram (Amrish Puri), they’ve enslaved the children to dig for the missing Sankara stones. Indy needs to do what he can to free the kids, save the village, and get out alive himself. Along the way, he has to choose between “fortune and glory” and doing the right thing.

The main creative forces behind the Indiana Jones series – director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas – found themselves in something of a pickle when they went back to make Temple, the first sequel to Raiders. Actually, it’s the same challenge that confronts all sequels. Viewers want something that doesn’t just repeat the first movie but that doesn’t vary too much from the original’s action.

Temple went for something different and darker than the swashbuckling and reasonably light-hearted Raiders. In fact, they might have made things too rough and sinister. Temple includes some rather intense moments of violence, especially given that children remain the focus of so much negativity. Raiders had its scary bits, but they stayed somewhat cartoony in general; sure, it was gross to watch those faces melt at the end, but it wasn’t like we could really take that seriously.

Some might excuse the violence of Temple as being too supernatural to view as part of the real world, and they might be correct. Nonetheless, the sight of a priest who rips a man’s heart from his chest seems pretty shocking, and the scenes in which the Thuggees abuse children are all too real.

I don’t present these issues necessarily because they bother me or I think they’re inappropriate. I mention them because they led to much of the backlash against Temple. In fact, along with the cartoony but occasionally gruesome Gremlins, Temple directly led to the creation of the “PG-13” rating; many felt Temple and Gremlins were too tough for the fairly innocuous “PG”.

I’ve like Temple, but I will acknowledge that it remains my least favorite of the original three Indy flicks. Part of the problem comes from the fact it seems to try a little too hard to differentiate itself from Raiders. It feels like the filmmakers worried so much that they’d just remake the original that they went too far in the other direction.

That means that in place of the gritty and assertive heroine Marion Ravenwood from Raiders, we get the screechy, spoiled and hysterical Willie. Many people don’t care for the character and see her as a regression due to her selfish and whiny personality.

It’s tough to combat those opinions. Granted, Willie becomes proactive on a couple of occasions, and all the anti-Willie detractors ignore how often Indy needs to save Marion in the first flick. Nonetheless, the impression remains, and it’s true that the tough and rough Marion feels like a better romantic match for the pragmatic Indy than does the superficial and silly Willie. I don’t dislike her, but she comes across as pretty annoying at times.

The insertion of Short Round feels somewhat gratuitous and doesn’t serve much purpose. Did Indy really need to become a parental figure just because the film involves enslaved children? No. The sidekick character remains largely superfluous.

That’s a lot of complaints – what do I actually like about Temple? Well, it does deserve some credit for attempting something different. The filmmakers easily could have gone back to the well and just remade Raiders with some small twists, but Temple feels like its own beast.

I admire the levels of darkness to which they take the flick as well. Spielberg tells an intense story and doesn’t lighten up the story with much fluff. Too many filmmakers would alleviate the tension too frequently, but Spielberg keeps things nasty, which may bother some viewers, but it helps create a sense of a cohesive world.

Spielberg also delivers some great action. Indy goes through many travails and these take him through a variety of situations. From the frantic musical number at the start through the mine chase at the end, Spielberg supplies some good set pieces and makes them pretty darned exciting.

It seemed almost inevitable that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom wouldn’t quite live up to its predecessor; Raiders proved to be a genre-defining classic with no peers. Temple is more erratic and less satisfying, but it generally delivers the goods. The flick provides a consistently dark atmosphere that makes it the least accessible of the first three movies, but it mostly works and seems like an interesting adventure.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus C+

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While generally positive, the transfer sputtered a little on a few occasions.

Sharpness appeared satisfactory though somewhat inconsistent. I thought the majority of the flick seemed accurate and well-defined, but sporadic examples of soft shots occurred. Most of these took place during palace interiors, though not exclusively; a few exteriors also demonstrated mildly fuzzy elements. I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, though, and edge enhancement was mild. Print flaws remained absent, as the image showed no defects such as grit, specks, nicks or other concerns.

The setting in India offered a nice mix of hues, and the DVD replicated these well. Raiders looked slightly dense at times, but that tiny issue didn’t arise during Temple. Instead, the colors consistently came across as vivid and vibrant, with no signs of bleeding, noise, or other distortions. Quite a lot of red lighting cropped up, and the disc handled those instances with aplomb. Black levels were deep and rich, and low-light shots appeared clean and appropriately defined. Much of the flick looked very good, but the sporadic softness made it a “B”.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom fared very well. As one might expect, the mix offered a lively and involving experience. It came across as a little less active than the audio for Raiders, but that stemmed from its lowered level of action; a substantial portion of Temple passed without a big sequence, whereas Raiders provided pizzazz more frequently. Even during the quieter bits, though, the film offered a nice sense of place, with cleanly localized elements that melded together well. Music showed good stereo imaging and the effects meshed smoothly.

The surrounds added a good sense of atmosphere, and they kicked into action well during the livelier sequences. The star of the show was the mine car chase toward the end. This used all five speakers well and created a vivid environment. The rear speakers didn’t play a role as consistently active as what I heard in Raiders, but the track seemed a bit smoother and more cohesive, so it worked well.

Audio quality almost never showed its age. Speech was nicely natural and distinctive; with no edginess or issues connected to intelligibility. Unlike Raiders, looped lines blended smoothly. John Williams’ score remained tight and vibrant, as the music sounded quite well produced and dynamic. Effects showed virtually no signs of distortion, as they were concise and accurate. Bass response wasn’t quite as impressive as during Raiders, but the film included plenty of deep and firm low-end material. Temple lacked some of the highs heard during Raiders, but it also avoided that flick’s minor issues. That meant Temple earned an identical audio grade of “A-“.

How did the picture and audio of this 2008 Special Edition compare with those of the original DVD from 2003? Both looked and sounded identical, as clearly the two releases resulted from the same source. I did think compression was slightly better on the old disc since it didn’t include any extras, but the variations between the two seemed minimal.

The 2008 SE includes new supplements, however. The 2003 version came as part of a four-disc package; along with the other two Indy flicks, a fourth disc of extras appeared. None of those components pop up here.

Instead, the 2008 SE mostly focuses on new featurettes. The Temple of Doom: An Introduction runs five minutes, 58 seconds and provides comments from director Steven Spielberg and story writer/executive producer George Lucas. They tell us a little about the project’s genesis, its darkness, and some aspects of its creation. A few interesting notes emerge here.

In the 11-minute and 54-second The Creepy Crawlies, we hear from Spielberg, executive producer Frank Marshall, animal wrangler Jules Sylvester, and actors Harrison Ford and Karen Allen. "Crawlies" looks at the Indy series’ use of unsettling critters like snakes, insects and rats. We learn a lot about how movies feature these creatures as well as their specific "performances" in the films. It becomes a surprisingly informative piece.

Next comes Travel With Indy: Locations. The 10-minute and 30-second show includes Ford, Marshall, Allen, and producer Robert Watts. As you probably guessed, "Travel" looks at the locations and sets used for the different Indy films. We get more informative material in this compelling program.

Both "Crawlies" and "Locations" can be viewed with or without Pop-Up Trivia. That option gives us some additional factoids about the subject matter. This feature works pretty well, as the "Trivia" offers some useful tidbits.

Next we find Storyboards. This two-minute and 31-second reel shows drawings created for the "Mine Cart Chase" sequence. We see the boards in the upper two-third of the screen with a small frame to show the movie at the bottom. The comparison format works well and gives us a good look at the scene.

Under Galleries, we find four subdomains. These cover "Illustrations and Props" (52 images), "Production Photographs and Portraits" (118), "Effects/ILM" (40) and "Marketing" (34). I liked all of these sections, though the "Marketing" bits were probably the most fun. Seeing all those ads really brought back just how excited I was to see Temple in 1984.

Some promotional materials for Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures arrive on the disc. In addition to a game trailer, we get a link to a PC Game Demo. I wanted to give this a try, but as I write this review, the link isn’t yet active.

The DVD opens with a trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. No ad for Doom appears here.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom doesn’t compare favorably with its predecessor, but what does? Temple acts as a mildly flawed but generally exciting and entertaining action flick; its main flaw is that it’s not an all-time classic like Raiders. The DVD presented terrific audio, generally good picture, and a few informative extras. Temple of Doom will always be my least favorite of the first three Indy adventures, but it remains an enjoyable piece of work that I recommend.

Note than you can buy Temple on its own or as part of a three-DVD "Indiana Jones Adventure Collection". That set also includes Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The "Adventure Collection" retails for $59.98, which makes it a good deal if you want all three of the movies; individually, they go for $26.98 apiece.

One twist: the original 2003 Indiana Jones Collection remains on the market and now retails for $49.99. As you math majors already figured out, that’s $10 cheaper than this new set, and it also includes a bonus disc with extras absent here. Of course, this disc’s supplements don’t appear in the 2003 package, but I prefer the old release’s bonus materials to this one’s. If you only want to own Temple, this individual DVD is the way to go, but for fans who desire all three flicks, grab the old 2003 set instead of the 2008 package.

To rate this film visit the Indiana Jones Collection review of INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main