After great success with Raiders of the Lost Ark, a sequel was pretty much inevitable, but with Spielberg and Lucas riding high from back-to-back successes of Star Wars and E.T., it was always going to be on their terms. Bucking the established Hollywood sequel trend, Lucas and Spielberg chose to set the events of Temple of Doom before those of Raiders, similar to their mutual friend Francis Ford Coppola's decision to do the same with The Godfather Part II.
Harkening back to Spielberg's desire to film a James Bond film, Temple of Doom starts out with an elaborately staged pre-credits sequence with Jones facing impending death by poisoning at a night club, a plane crash and a cruise down the rapids into a Malaysian village. Serendipity has dictated that Jones is now joined by nightclub performer Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw), making their way to the nearby impoverished village of Mayapore, where the local children have vanished and the sacred stones of Shiva have been stolen. While the lavish Pankot Palace welcomes Jones with open arms, he quickly becomes suspicious of their motives, confirmed by a series of secret underground tunnels leading to an ancient religious cult.
In the background of the films production, Producer George Lucas was undergoing a messy and costly divorce (no doubt leading to the literal heart removal scene), director Steven Spielberg was falling in love with star Kate Capshaw, whom he later married. All this is likely responsible for the wildly uneven tone of the film, which alternatives between humor, spurts of light heartedness, an incredibly dark middle section, followed by a return to some solid action fare at the finale. Whilst it may look relatively calm today, the film was very controversial for the time, and censors unable to categorize the films rating ultimately designated an entirely new category; PG-13, which exists to this day. Featuring lowest on the scale of greatest Indiana Jones movies (well, until Crystal Skull came out, there is still a lot to like about Temple of Doom, even if it could have done with some more polishing to retrieve the gold inside.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with AVC MPEG-4 compression.
Unlike Raiders, Temple does not have the benefit of a new 4K transfer, but at the same time it didn't really need it as much as its predecessor. This transfer originates from the 2003 2K masters, prepared by Lowry Digital.
Overall it has stood the test of time quite well. Compared to Raiders, it does look a little 'digital', with an absence of the extremely fine film grain and warmth featured in that transfer. Sharpness is very high, but seems just a little artificial. The added resolution makes some of the matte backgrounds and compositing effects stand out just that little bit more, but it's all part of the charm.
Color is very good, and retains the bright tones and bold reds that pervade the production design. Thankfully, there were very few examples of film artifacting - one of the biggest issues that Lowry struck when creating this transfer.
Overall, a pleasing effort that looks significantly better than the DVD's, but only a hairs breadth better than the previously released 1080i HDTV masters.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is presented in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, at 24 bits.
Again, unlike Raiders, Doom hasn't benefited from a brand new 5.1 audio mix, but again, unlike its predecessor, doesn't entirely need it.
This is the same 5.1 mix as prepared for the DVD release, this time presented losslessly - which truly makes all the difference. This is an involving and very well balanced surround sound mix and sonically, not to displaced from current surround sound mixes.
I noticed no issues with audio sync, although it's clear that some dialogue was replaced in post production. Surround activity is significant and includes some great examples of split surrounds, especially during the mine chase sequence.
The master, John Williams, returns to score the film, bringing back the classic Indiana Jones theme music and creating some new cues. It's mixed pretty well and sounds nice, although not quite as gloriously as the mix for Raiders.
Overall, until someone decides that they need to make a 7.1 (or more) mix for the film, this is the best it's going to sound. And that's totally fine with me.
Bar two Theatrical Trailers (both presented in 1080p), all of the bonus material is included on the fifth disc of the collection, along with bonus features for the other three Indiana Jones films. In this section, I will talk about the bonus features exclusively relevant to The Temple of Doom. Further features are peripherally concerned with all the films, and will be discussed during the review of the final film; Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Included from the previous DVD release is the 40 minute The Making of Temple of Doom documentary, produced by Spielberg regular Laurent Bouzereau. Sadly, it's only in standard definition, but there is a substantial amount of information imparted, including the darker direction of the film and the mixed critical and audience reaction. I wish more documentaries were as honest as this.