Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
seen @ IS 227, Queens, NY
circa mid-80s

Did you know that Harrison Ford has been nominated for an Oscar only once in his entire career? (It was for Witness, a good movie). That's a bit surprising, given how big a star he is. To me, and to many other film fans, I imagine, Ford always struck me as (primarily) an action hero who was a notch or two above the likes of Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Seagal in terms of acting ability. I would put him with the likes of Bruce Willis - best known as an action hero but capable of deeper and more versatile roles as well.

Ford has certainly had opportunities to do more than pilot spaceships and crack bullwhips. Looking over his roles, I'd say his peak years was 1977-94, which saw a wide variety of roles in films of different genres, and many of them were big hits. In his heyday, Ford, unlike Arnold or Sly, never needed to show off his muscles or mow down entire armies of goons while quipping one-liners. His was a masculinity that was easier to relate to: he could be charming and roguish as often as he could be tough, and if he didn't know the way out of a jam at first, well, he just needed some time to come up with something.

I'd like to think he has one more great role in him, another Oscar-caliber role perhaps. Even if it means a supporting role in an ensemble drama or a starring role in an independent feature, that would be fine by me. I'm still not used to seeing him billed second in films with Daniel Craig and - bleech! - Brendon Fraser. Would he be cool with it, though? After being on top for so long, it can't possibly be easy to take secondary roles, but it'd be mighty nice if he found one that would remind us why we love him...

...particularly for films like the Indiana Jones series. (Let's not discuss Crystal Skull.) I wish I could remember the first time I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's remarkable how well it still holds up after all these years. There's violence, even a little bit of gore at the end, but it's not gratuitous, nor does it feel the need to cater to the youngsters. 

And Marion is one of the sexiest women characters in any action movie, bar none, not just for her looks but for the things she does. She seems like the kind of woman that can hold her own against a man like Indiana Jones. And the little character moments throughout the film mean so much, and add up over the course of the story. It is an absolute treasure.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, on reflection, doesn't hold up quite as well, though as a child, of course, I ate it up. I don't think I liked Willie even back then (I can't stand her now), but yes, I did like Short Round; how could I not appreciate a kid sidekick, me being a kid at the time?

My junior high school screened Temple for us; I don't remember if it was for a special occasion of some sort or not. I don't think there was; I think it was just something they did for us. I distinctly remember sitting in the auditorium with my friends watching it. We had great seats, too; in the center, near the front. I remember squirming at the part where Willie has to stick her hand in that hole full of spiders, scorpions and other bugs, though I thought the part where the bad guy ripped out that dude's heart was pretty cool.

Does anybody remember the Temple of Doom arcade game? I played it fairly often. It captured most of the cool moments from the movie, and the graphics were decent.

Temple is one of those movies I closely associate with my childhood, which may sound strange considering the high levels of violent imagery (and political incorrectness), but back then, things like that didn't get people as uptight as they do now. I don't feel scarred from the violence in it, nor do I feel it turned me into a bad person. Strange how often people forget that kids can take stuff like this without it completely warping their minds.

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