The Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade

While home on my break I knew I would see the latest installment of Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ; therefore, I decided to watch the prequels, so I would be well updated. I saw The Raiders of the Lost Ark on a previous break, so I was aware of that one. Thus, I only recently watched The Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade .

I give The Temple of Doom two and a half stars. I have four problems with The Temple of Doom , the beginning, Willie Scott, the raft, and that Indiana Jones does not act as an archaeologist. First, the beginning. Originally, I liked the beginning. It had this great James Bond feel. However, after a day or so, I realized that was a reason not to like the beginning. Indiana Jones is not James Bond. Indiana Jones does not wear a tuxedo. He wears a leather jacket, shades of brown, and a dusty fedora. He explores deserts and jungles for artifacts. He does not fight Soviet spies and rogue agents trying to destroy the world from the comfort of luxurious and technologically advanced underwater lair. Therefore, the beginning of The Temple of Doom does not depict Indiana Jones, but an Americanized James Bond.

Obviously, one of the problems had to be Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw). The Raiders of the Lost Ark had the perfect female lead for Indiana Jones. Marian Ravenwood (Karen Allen) is a female, looks like a female, dresses like a female; however, acts like an adventurer. Basically, she is a tom boy that looks like a girl. She fits with the Indiana Jones atmosphere, while also causing enough humorous friction with Indiana. Scott, however, is just annoying. Firstly, she belongs in that luxurious underwater lair of some James Bond villain. She actually starts there, for she is the first character seen in the movie. She enters in the Bond-esque beginning. Secondly, Indiana says he is only allowing her to tag along until they get to where ever their plane is going. Unfortunately, the plane crashes throwing Scott into Indiana's world, which she does not belong in. That plane should have made it to its final destination for a variety of reasons, one among them so Scott could exit stage left. Throughout, the rest of the move she annoyingly screams and cries at the site of anything natural or slightly dirty. She is even more disturbed by snakes than Indiana. Furthermore, she spends her time trying to lure Indiana into bed. It is more enjoyable watching Ravenwood trying to keep Indiana away.

The next problem is that damn raft. The Temple of Doom is filled with action, but not cluttered. The bridge scene is entertaining and provides for an unconventional, yet believable fight. The same goes for the mine cart fight. Even the beginning Bond action sequence, which does not belong in this film is enjoyable down to the car chase. However, the raft jump from the plane pushes the action too far. Sure the bridge, mine cart, and Bond fight are all somewhat unbelievable, but I am willing to suspend disbelief that far. Those events could happen by chance and they contribute to the film. Using a raft to cushion one's jump from a crashing plane, and then ridding the raft like a sled down the steep side of a snowy mountain is absolutely absurd. That could not even happen by chance. It contributes nothing to the film. Indiana's grounding in India with some abused tribe could have been achieved in a much simpler fashion then with a ridiculous raft act. I would sooner believe and appreciate a magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat.


Finally, Indiana is not himself in this movie. In The Raiders of The Lost Ark and The Last Crusade Indiana is an archaeologist/detective. He explores exotic locales, discovers clues, and puts the pieces together to find an artifact. In The Temple of Doom Indiana conveniently falls from a plane right near an abused tribe. Their children have been stolen and so has their sacred stone. The tribe leader tells Indiana to look for it, and he actually tells Indiana where it is. Then after a dinner party Indiana accidentally stumbles upon a secret passage way to the stone. In the matter of a day the stone is recovered. He does receive one piece of parchment, but he would have found the stone without it. I ask, why the hell does the tribe need Indiana to find the stone? They know exactly where it is. Indiana puts no clues together. He does limited exploring and discovering. There is no thinking involved. He accidentally stumbles upon the scene, literally.

With all that said I do admit I like the addition of Shorty (Johnathan Ke Quan). He is humorous, almost a sufficient replacement for Ravenwood. Furthermore, he has an interesting relationship with Indiana, which develops Indiana's character. Indiana a lone explorer and bachelor is depicted as a loving and caring father figure. This should have been explored more instead of having Scott in the story. I also do like the scene of the children escaping slavery and returning home for obvious reasons. Nothing is sweeter than a slave revolt, the protection of their natural rights, just punishment for their slave drivers, and just rewards for them.

Now, onto The Last Crusade, which I give three stars. It is only a fraction better than The Temple of Doom. The major positive of this film is that Indiana is acting like an archaeologist/detective like in The Raiders of the Lost Ark. Also, the addition of Indiana's father explores the Indiana character. Indiana and his father are depicted as almost the same man; however, since his father played a small and distant role in his life Indiana has become a solitary figure. Furthermore, he distances himself from his father like his father distances himself from his son, and neither see a problem with that relationship. Obviously, Nazis were a superb choice of villain because nobody likes a Nazi. Even Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden hate the Nazis. Finally, the beginning of the film showing Indiana as a youth is a positive feature, for it shows how the character came into existence. It also identifies his primary motivations for archeology.

This leads to me first problem with The Last Crusade . Indiana Jones is a thief, and I do not mean he is a thief like the multi-culturalists do. Indiana is not a thief because he recovers artifacts from ancient ruins. No one owns those ruins. They have descended back into the wild. Indiana is a thief because he stole that cross. First, he steals it from that archaeologist, and then he steals it from the owner. I hate the line, "That belongs in a museum." I want the other characters to says, "Fu** you," and kick him off the train. Why does it belong in a museum? So everyone can view it, and it can benefit all of humanity. That is not a reason to take property. Of course, they could both be thieves. Obviously, someone owns the land where the cross was found; therefore, that land owner owns the cross. Consequently, Indiana should not have spent his time trying to secure it for a museum. Instead he should have been concerned with natural rights. He should have tried to prevent the cross from being stolen.

Another problem I have with The Last Crusade , and all the Indiana Jones movies in general, is the obnoxious emphasis on the supernatural. Indiana Jones is an archaeologist/detective concerned with fact. In The Last Crusade he even writes fact on the board of his class room and states, "Archeology is the search for fact." Furthermore, in each movie he states that the stories surrounding the artifacts are legends or bed time stories. He believes they are false. However, in each movie he is proved wrong. It is proved those fictitious stories are true in the Indiana Jones reality. It is as if each movie shouts, "Religion is real. Religion is real. It's not made up." I think it would be more appropriate for Indiana Jones to find the holy grail as a not so holy cup that Jesus drank from. The quest should be devoid of all the supernatural. His quests should be more than locating artifacts, but also disproving the bed time stories surrounding them.

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