Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Dir: Simon West
Star: Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Chris Barrie, Iain Glen
Cert / Year: 12 - PG13 / 2001
Format: DVD R1

Lady Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) is a archaeologist adventuring super heroine. She lives in her English mansion with butler Hillary (Red Dwarf's Chris Barrie) and computer nerd Bryce (Noah Taylor), haunted by the memories of her dead farther (Jon Voight). Things from her fathers past catch up with them as she discovers a mystical clock as a planetary eclipse is just beginning. According to legend during the eclipse the clock unlocks the hiding place of two parts of a triangle artefact which gives the wielder a the power to manipulate time. The would be fine except a secret organisation called the Illuminati has sent their agent Powell (Iain Glen) to steal the clock. With the eclipse finishing in less than a week the race is on to beat the Illuminati to the triangle.

Lara Croft is the pin up girl of the Nintendo generation. The first computer generated babe, whose fame comes from a series of computer games. In the games she's fearless, cool, deadly and unfeasibly proportioned, and it was always going to be a big problem finding someone to match the role, and keep all of the fans happy. Luckily I think the right choice has been made in the beautiful Angelina Jolie. She looks the part, she can act, and is superb in the action scenes. She is possibly as close as you are going to get to the computer heroine. The only thing wrong is that for some inexplicably reason she is fitted with the most ridiculous padding bra in movie history (things up front, as it were, just don't look right). This is a shame as it was unnecessary in the context of the film.

The action scenes are the key to the film, in short they are stunning. Straight from the opening scene the action is top quality. For the most part it remains believable (except the dodgy Mission Impossible 2 inspired motorbike bit) and CG has been used in a clever and subtle way. Some great stunts and fine settings just added to the blistering pace of these scenes to produce some really impressive moments. The best of which include the fight to retrieve the first part of the triangle and the assault on Lara's mansion.

So far so good, but (and I do mean BUT) when the action lets up things go to pot in a major way. The scriptwriters for this film should be shot, the dialogue is at best cheesy and at worst it is awful, and the plot prone to cliché (The escape by jumping over a waterfall, and the mysterious girl showing secret entrances are just two of the worst clichés). When no action is happening the script lurches from one bad line to the next. All of the English characters utter the word Bugger all of the time which is rather stereotypically unconvincing. However the worst dialogue is reserved for Powell, turning the films bad guy into a camp joke ("My ignorance amuses me" who in their right mind would ever say this).

This leads to the films next problem, which is the casting. While I have already mentioned that Angelina Jolie is perfect as Lara, some of the other casting is not so successful. A hero is only as good as the bad guys they have to fight, unfortunately here Lara’s enemy seems to be played by an actor that would have been more at home in Eastenders (a British soap for those who don't know). Iain Glen is way out of his depth, OK so he is not given a good dialogue, but he just isn't scary. You never believe that he is remotely capable of hurting Lara, which ruins any tension that could have been built up. Added to this we have the wonderful miscasting of Lara’s supposed love interest and archaeological rival Alex played by Daniel Craig. This guy should have been capable and handsome unfortunately Daniel is neither of these (Bruce Campbell would have been ideal having played a similar rogue in Xena), this leads to no romantic chemistry at all. Thank heavens for the casting of Noah Taylor and especially Chris Barrie who are both really good, although Chris Barrie's character is rather under used.

The last problem facing this film is one that is becoming ever more prevalent in modern films, that of blatant product placement. While not quite up to the logo emblazoning proportions of Red Planet, the products being sponsored are really shoehorned into the script. Take for example the pointless drive in the Land Rover just to find the temples back door, or the continuous use of Ericson phones. It is a crime that scenes or dialogue are added to a film just for advertising purposes in such a blatant way as this.

Tomb raider is a difficult film to rate, as when it is good it's very good but when it's bad is really awful. Watch it for the action scenes which are just great, but be warned everything else here really doesn't work. I would like to see a sequel from better writers with a decent bad guy as the potential is there for a real winner. Lara Croft is a great character who was perfectly cast, but this film doesn't do her justice. As it is we are provided with another of this years flawed blockbusters. It really doesn't stand up to repeat viewings once the wow factor has worn off.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Perfect
Audio Dolby Digital (5.1) Big loud and well used
Features Very nice animated Interactive Menus
Cast & Crew Interviews featurette
An Up-Close Look At Angelina Jolie's Training Program "Crafting Lara Croft"
"The Stunts Of Tomb Raider"
"Visual Effects Of Tomb Raider" eight effects explained
"Are You Game?" A look at Lara's computer game roots
Deleted Scenes that thankfully weren't included
Director's Commentary by Simon West
The irrelevant U2 Music Video, "Elevation"
Alternate Main Title Sequence
And tonnes of DVD ROM content including a game demo
Verdict A top quality modern release

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home