Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

"Bad"

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Review


The now-classic video game Tomb Raider is a geek boy's dream -- a hot heroine with Barbie-like measurements goes on adventures and kicks ass. The film adaptation, starring the buxom and bored Angelina Jolie, is nobody's dream. It's billed as an action fantasy, but possesses no physical excitement or wonder. OK, maybe some wonder, as in, "I wonder how Paramount actually feels about this film."

Even the teen hormones that live in all us guys are squashed by this one. Jolie, trying to play our heroine Lady Lara Croft as sexy and supercool, just looks mildly amused by the goings-on. I half expected her to check her watch while on camera, searching for lunch or a better project. [Never underestimate crafty film editing. -Ed.]

And it wouldn't take much to find the latter. Somewhere in Tomb Raider exists a loose story about two parts of a single rune that, when joined together, can cause major cosmic tragedies when the planets next align, which is soon (this only happens every 5,000 years, so this is important!) Lady Lara needs to keep the pieces from the enemy, or hide them, or something, but since the script is so painfully bad, we can't really tell or care.

The screenplay, credited to six contributors including director Simon West (Con Air), is not only uninteresting, it is devoid of any style. If the film is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, where are the laughs? If it's got a heavy-duty comic-book slant, where is the camp? Tomb Raider takes itself almost too seriously, by a group of writers who reduce the humor of this movie to Lara's sidekick whining because his ass muscles fall asleep. These guys even cast Jon Voight (Jolie's real-life father) as Lara Croft's father... and then make absolutely no reference to the in-joke. Talk about a lost opportunity to add some fun and levity.

At least you'd figure the shoot-em-up sequences would make up for the lack of an entertaining script. Not so. Save for a somewhat creative showdown during the finale, this dud's got your standard running, jumping, and gunplay, lifted from better movies you've already seen. The fight choreography is so tired that Lara appears to be rehearsing for some off-screen gymnastics event.

And while you're watching the action, be careful! The filmmakers believe you might not be sure something cool is just about to happen. To help you along, West provides two hints: 1) The film is in slow motion, and 2) There's something resembling techno music in the soundtrack. Of course, the slo-mo is more reminiscent of a Billy Joel video than The Matrix, and the music sounds like your Mom's techno, generic and palatable enough to be in a movie commercial or an elevator, rather than in a feature film (funny, considering West began directing commercials).

If it's action with zip and spice you're looking for, try the at least passable Mummy Returns. If it's just a hot babe wearing a closet-full of tight shirts, this movie just might do. But if it's Tomb Raider you really want, keep your Playstation plugged in.

The Tomb Raider DVD is predictably vibrant and loud -- so much so it scared my cat out of the living room -- but the extras are on the thin side. You'll find mini-documentaries, a music video, and a very spare commentary track from West, but I expect most buyers will be more interested in putting the movie on slow-mo when Jolie does any running/jumping/jiggling.

Fans of the original video game might find more luck with the DVD-ROM features of the disc, featuring three new levels of Tomb Raider inspired by the movie. Unfortunately, I was so bad at the game I could barely get up the first set of obstacles, much less figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Die-hard Raiders will certainly have more luck than I did. There's also an alleged "online experience," where you play another game while the Tomb Raider film plays out in a small window above. But after 20 minutes of crashes, I had to give up.

Angelina in the Temple of Poon.



Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th June 2001

Box Office USA: $129.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $274.7M

Budget: $115M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Mutual Film Company, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Lawrence Gordon Productions, Marubeni, Eidos Interactive, Toho-Towa

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 19%
Fresh: 29 Rotten: 126

IMDB: 5.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Lara Croft, as Lord Croft, as Powell, as Bryce, as Alex, as Distinguished Gentleman, as Hillary, as Mr. Pimms, as Wilson, as Assault Team Leader, as Young Lara, Henry Wyndham as Boothby's Auctioneer, David Cheung as Head Laborer (as David Y. Cheung), David Tse as Head Laborer (as David K. S. Tse), Ayla Amiral as Little Cambodian Girl, Ozzie Yue as Aged Buddhist Monk, Wai-Keat Lau as Young Buddhist Monk, Stephanie Burns as Little Inuit Girl, as Ancient High Priest, Richenda Carey as Imperious Woman, Sylvano Clarke as UPS Guy, Anna Maria Everett as Maid, Olegar Fedoro as Russian Commander

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