Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ★½

A highly anticipated prequel to its vastly successful predecessor, the second film in the Indiana Jones franchise takes the right approach of heading into a darker territory but unfortunately comes off as a rather lacklustre chapter suffering from a dumbed down narrative, exaggerated performances & not to mention its contribution to the racist stereotyping of Indians in Western society.

Set one year before the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom presents the famous archaeologist adventurer fleeing from Shanghai & crash-landing in India where he is asked by desperate villagers to retrieve a mystical stone and stumbles upon a secret cult practicing child slavery, black magic & ritual human sacrifices.

The direction by Steven Spielberg has its moments of brilliance in the action sequences even if they end up being a tad too over-the-top but as far as drama goes, that emotional connection between its characters & viewers which this director has been able to pull off so well in many of his works is completely absent. The script doesn't provide a consistent flow to the story too & ends up making along a lot of things as the plot progresses.

The depiction of India, its cuisines, Hinduism & its gods isn't just entirely inaccurate but also downright insulting. It tries to be funny about it but these things only come off as racist & offensive. Cinematography carries the vibrant energy of its previous chapter, editing leaves little room to breathe & even John Williams' score doesn't add anything new to the adventure.

Coming to the performances, Harrison Ford reprises his role of Indiana Jones & does a commendable job. The kid who played his sidekick was annoying as hell & should've been thrown off a cliff. Kate Capshaw is in as a damsel-in-distress who did nothing but scream, Amrish Puri plays the main antagonist & hams his way through while the rest of the cast ends up exaggerating way more than required.

On an overall scale, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has too less to offer and even though its set design, visual effects & other elements look impressive, it remains an insipid cinematic experience. I was very much poised to hate it as the story progressed but the highly entertaining mine cart chase sequence (or the entire third act actually) in the end managed to rescue it from a complete disaster in my eyes.