"You know how to fly, don't you?"
"No, do you?"
Although criticized for being a darker and more violent follow-up to the popular "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (the film's violence was cause to institute the PG-13 rating, as the film had a level of violence that was considered higher than PG, but not quite R), this second "Indiana Jones" film still has some of the same spirit and sense of adventure as was found in the original picture. Although the opening doesn't compete with the rolling rock of the original film's opening moments, "Temple of Doom" does start with a kick, as Indiana has to roll a gong out the window of a Shanghai club to escape a deal gone sour.
The film opens in Shanghai as Indy must once again make a clever escape. The only problem is, his escape-by-plane isn't as successful as he planned when the pilot turns up missing. Joined by Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw, playing whiny and shrill, but doing it well) and Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan, quite brilliantly playing against Ford's dry humor and Capshaw's screaming). The three find themselves treking across India, ending up in a village where the children have been kidnapped and forced to work in mines. Meanwhile, there's also the matter of three sacred stones that are located within the mines.
While "Temple of Doom" may be the worst film in the series, that's still a lot better than most films. The dark tone of the second film doesn't bother me as much as the fact that the second film is neither as eventful or memorable. There's certainly some humor here (the scene where Jones and Short Round are trapped in a rapidly shrinking room while Indy screams and frantically yells and gestures with his hand through a hole in the wall for Willie to find the lever to release them is priceless) and a few moments of action, but the film as a whole isn't paced as rapid-fire as "Raiders", with some slow stretches in the first half. Still, it's a good deal of fun in spots.
Available only in the "Trilogy" 4-DVD box set.
VIDEO: I was very pleased with the picture quality of "Raiders of the Lost Ark". However, "Temple of Doom" manages to look even better. While sharpness and detail were merely quite good during "Raiders", "Temple" retains a rather stunning, rock-solid appearance throughout, with superb definition even in the darkest of scenes.
While the presentation didn't appear flawless, "Temple of Doom" certainly looked far better than I've ever seen it. As with the other two films, "Temple" has been restored and remastered, making for quite a large clean-up job. As with "Raiders", "Temple" doesn't suffer from any noticable print flaws - no specks, marks or other debris were noticed. Grain is noticed lightly, briefly and less often than in "Raiders". Edge enhancement isn't spotted, nor are any instances of compression artifacts. However, a little bit of shimmering was seen in a couple of the jungle scenes.
The second film's color palette is a bit more bold than the original's, and is presented quite well here. Colors remained rich and well-saturated throughout, with no smearing or other issues. Overall, I found this to be a vibrant, crisp and exceptional presentation that, while not flawless, certainly exceeded my expectations.
SOUND: "Temple of Doom" is, as with the rest of the "Jones" films, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Given the limited amount of action that happens during the first half of the film, the overall sound experience here is less active than that which can be found in the other two "Jones" films. However, the presentation is still not without its merits. Surrounds are engaged more often in the second half of the film during the action sequences, and do get some fine use during these moments. Audio quality is stellar, as dialogue remained clear, while sound effects sounded crisp and had solid impact. Overall, pretty good, but while the soundtrack of "Raiders" impressed me more than the video quality, the video quality of "Temple of Doom" was more impressive than the new 5.1 sound mix.
EXTRAS: All of the extras are on the fourth disc of the set.
Final Thoughts: While the sequel doesn't thrill as much as the first or third films, it's still a good deal of fun and it does have some great moments here-and-there. Paramount's DVD edition provides picture quality that's extremely enjoyable and fine audio. Available only in the trilogy box set.
The Film ***