Early on in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy turns to his soon-to-be love interest and his newfound sidekick – a singer in Shanghai's Club Obi Wan (Kate Capshaw) and a scrappy pickpocket (Ke Huy Quan), respectively – and intones, "I think we got a big problem." He's not kidding: the warning comes toward the end of a miraculous 20-minute opening sequence during which Dr. Jones gets poisoned while trying to exchange the remains of a dead emperor for a legendary diamond, plays floor hockey for the diamond and the antidote, impales someone on a kebab, crashes through a window behind a rolling metal gong, and stows away in a plane full of poultry only to have the pilots ditch and take the only parachutes with them. He then proceeds to leap out of the plane on a rubber life raft, which crashes off a cliff and careens down some vicious Indian whitewater. "Big problem" doesn't quite describe it; the torrent of obstacles and challenges that Spielberg and Lucas hurl at their hero in the first reel of this first sequel seems downright cruel. But their unkindness aside, the barreling momentum, brilliant staging, and breezy nonchalance of Temple of Doom's opening evoke something rarely found in Raiders of the Lost Ark and more rarely still in the rest of Steven Spielberg's career: a sense that Spielberg -- the master, the magician -- is at play.
categories Features, Cinematical