Tomb Raider (2001)

Lara Croft is a woman with bountiful resources… living in a lush mansion with wealth and family prestige. She’s an adventurer with a taste for action along the lines of the Raiders of the Lost Ark kind. It seems that time is drawing close to a planetary alignment that occurs once every 5,000 years as they always do in movies. This alignment supposedly unleashes an ancient object that has the ability to alter time itself. Croft is drawn in by a secret society that wants a mysterious artifact she discovers in her property that can lead to the locations for the time altering device. Now Croft must step out and try and beat the big bad guy (Ian Glenn) to the chase and get to the device before he and his society get their grubby hands all over it.

This is a movie that is light on characters yet at the same time has so many extraneous ones. The bad men are being led by fellow tomb raider Alex Cross (Daniel Craig), who also happens to be a former flame of Croft’s. Lara is saddled with a geeky computer whiz who just happens to be British, because he keeps spouting phrases like “blimey” and “bugger” all the freakin’ time. Croft also employs a butler, because, someone has to take care of that huge house. If this wasn’t enough the big bad employs an assortment of typical evil henchmen that are distinguishable by tattoos alone. Add on top of this heap the flashbacks Croft has of her long missing father Lord Croft (played by Jolie’s real father, Jon Voight). All of these dueling personalities clog the action and the pacing.

Front and center, Angelina Jolie is the living embodiment of Lara Croft. She fills out all the curves, the attitude, and the look to a perfected T. It’s also refreshing to have the first female action star since Sigourney Weaver called an alien a “bitch.” Jolie may possibly fall into that lexicon, surely Tomb Raider is her franchise and her embodiment. Jolie gives Croft the muscle but the screenwriters fail her in giving her the flesh and blood. Though there is some partial flesh as Jolie tosses off a towel to trot into a shower. Tomb Raider falls into the “rule of five”: if there are five or more people credited with the script (including in this instance the director himself) then there was no script at all.

The action of Tomb Raider is loud and explosive, but rather lifeless and dull. West has managed to create bombastically mundane action sequences. Never once did anything from the screen arouse my interest, except for the female lead of course. The story has its characters travel to exotic locales and impressive sets of ancient caves and temples, but it’s all window dressing. The pretty scenery and locations only mask how ineffective and boring the action is. And for an action picture, when the audience begins to notice how pretty the scenery is compared with the action – you’re not doing your job.

Simon West is not exactly a director to be trusted with any sort of project. West brought audiences Con Air and The General’s Daughter, a film that tried to decry rape but then took sadistic pleasure in recreating it again and again. So what better man to helm the project of the buxom video game heroine than a man who has brought us cartoonish violence and horrific rape? The camera framing of Tomb Raider takes a few notes from the Jennifer Love Hewitt experiment that was I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Jolie’s breasts are always in frame, and at certain times it seems like the camera is lowering just to get them in there for the sake of exposure.I’ll just write this up as “authentically” bringing the game to life.

Despite the attempt this video game turned into a movie feels exactly like a video game turned into a movie. It’s complete with some laughably atrocious dialogue (“You know what today is?” “The 15th.” “And that is never a good day.”), and despite the running time of an hour and a half feels like an eternity longer. Tomb Raider never gets off the ground even with the added push of some pretty good special effects. Jolie may have an action vehicle at her helm and that’s fine with me. Keep her. Just make sure to get rid of everyone else. Oh, and I will be buying the electronica induced soundtrack.

Nate’s Grade: D

About natezoebl

One man. Many movies. I am a cinephile (which spell-check suggests should really be "epinephine"). I was told that a passion for movies was in his blood since I was conceived at a movie convention. While scientifically questionable, I do remember a childhood where I would wake up Saturday mornings, bounce on my parents' bed, and watch Siskel and Ebert's syndicated TV show. That doesn't seem normal. At age 17, I began writing movie reviews and have been unable to stop ever since. I was the co-founder and chief editor at PictureShowPundits.com (2007-2014) and now write freelance. I have over 1400 written film reviews to my name and counting. I am also a proud member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) since 2012. In my (dwindling) free time, I like to write uncontrollably. I wrote a theatrical genre mash-up adaptation titled "Our Town... Attacked by Zombies" that was staged at my alma mater, Capital University in the fall of 2010 with minimal causalities and zero lawsuits. I have also written or co-written sixteen screenplays and pilots, with one of those scripts reviewed on industry blog Script Shadow. Thanks to the positive exposure, I am now also dipping my toes into the very industry I've been obsessed over since I was yea-high to whatever people are yea-high to in comparisons.

Posted on June 18, 2001, in 2001 Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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