Combustible Celluloid
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With: Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig, Iain Glen, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Jon Voight
Written by: Sara B. Cooper, Mike Werb, Michael Colleary, Simon West, Patrick Massett, John Zinman
Directed by: Simon West
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence and some sensuality.
Running Time: 100
Date: 06/11/2001

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Lame Game Girl

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider understands the best part of the adventure movie. Those scenes in which the heroes gather in some poorly-lit laboratory or dusty library to piece together the facts on some ancient artifact and figure out where their adventure takes them next. The best of these scenes comes in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) when Indiana Jones explains the power of the Lost Ark with the help of a musty old book.

Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) knows the importance of getting her clues straight and her facts right before she goes off gallivanting in the jungle. These scenes elevate Lara Croft: Tomb Raider far above the recent The Mummy Returns which was also crafted in the Indiana Jones vein.

Croft herself makes an interesting heroine. Far from Indiana Jones, she never frets, fears, or breaks a sweat. She's more like Superman, who has all the answers right when she needs them. Of course, a little vulnerability could only help, but Jolie plays Croft with a contagious smile and a delightful wink and cock of the neck. She's just about the only thing that's right on in this movie.

Yes, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a dud. I feel sorry for Jolie and the myriad of stunt trainers and set builders who designed all this great stuff, only to have the likes of director Simon West come in and mess it all up. West is a serious contender for the Worst Living Film Director, with credits like Con Air, and The General's Daughter under his belt. All this wonderful, eye-filling stuff in Tomb Raider, and West films it like it's an avalanche about to bury the camera.

Not to mention the script, which takes extra time to have characters explain out loud to themselves what's going on so that even the most idiotic of audience members can pick up on it. But while they were wasting time on this, they forgot to put in sufficient character motivations. Lara is given a semi-love interest whom she only seems to care about when it's convenient for the plot. And the plot, searching the globe for two pieces of a triangle that can reverse time, doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Is finding the triangle a good thing or a bad thing? The movie doesn't seem to know.

I was looking forward to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider with the kind of excitement that should accompany a new Indiana Jones movie, and I was severely disappointed. Tough female heroes like Lara Croft are few and far between, and it would have been nice to keep this one in the memory banks for a while. Instead, I'll just have to try and forget it as soon as possible.

(See also Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.)

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