$2.50 Reviews: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

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Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

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In movies, planetary alignments are rarely a good thing. Magical objects begin to work when the planets are all aligned, which this movie tells us only happens every 5,000 years. I'll buy that, I guess. I have no reason not to. I haven't played the Tomb Raider games, so I don't know if this plot is directly taken from them, or if the only part taken was the character of Lara Croft (played by Angelina Jolie here).

She's smart, too. Apparently.
She's smart, too. Apparently.

She discovers a clock in her house, which has just begun ticking. She breaks it open to discover something inside. Not knowing quite what it is, she takes it to a man who knew her late father, but he doesn't know what it is either. Someone does though, and his name is Manfred Powell (Iain Glen). The father's friend sends Croft to see Powell, but does it with regret, obviously knowing that it will endanger her life. He's never heard from again, although I wanted him to get his just deserts.

Powell is evil, as we see from one of the earliest scenes in the film. He's a member of the group call the Illuminati, which conspiracy theorists will know is the group that secretly runs everything important on Earth. In this movie, they exist because they want to get the two halves of the Triangle of Light, which, when put together and activated during the planetary alignment, will allow the user to control time. Beyond this, we aren't told what they want to do with their power.

There's a fellow tomb raider working with the Illuminati, who we first see getting into a verbal confrontation with Lara. Alex West (Daniel Craig) is brought in to help find these two pieces of the Triangle, and is supposedly paid a large sum of money for his services. He and Lara are rivals, and become mortal enemies when it comes to trying to find the Triangle. The fate rests on Lara's ability to get the pieces before the bad guys, although why we've even gotten to this point doesn't make any sense.

Shoot people!
Shoot people!

See, there was some village a long time ago that had the Triangle in full, and the reason that the village was destroyed is because someone abused the powers of the Triangle. Somehow, people got ahold of the Triangle, and instead of fixing their village with its powers, split it in two. Why not more pieces? Well, that wouldn't allow us to experience the plot of this movie.

At one point in the movie, there's a confrontation involving Powell and the two tomb raiders. We're informed that everything has to happen at a precise moment, and that if this doesn't happen, everyone will have to wait 5,000 years to try again -- a minor inconvenience. All Lara needed to do in order to stop the bad guys and save the world was to not say anything, or even show up in the first place, as they would have messed up their timing and would have failed.

It's logical issues like these that really grind my gears. I guess I shouldn't be looking for these things in an action film, but since there wasn't enough action to keep me entertained, this is where my mind wandered off to. I kept thinking about how easy it would be to stop these people, but then we wouldn't get a big, climactic action scene that actually isn't all that entertaining in the first place.

Pictured: Not how to use guns.
Pictured: Not how to use guns.

That's another one of the problems with Tomb Raider: The opening scene is the best one. Lara fights against a giant robot in a training exercise, a scene that shows how great a film like this one could be, but, as it turns out, that promise is never lived up to. We could have an awesome action movie with a female protagonist who gets to explore exotic locations and beat up on a lot of villains. What we got was a bad guy who wants a MacGuffin, and not all that much action.

Oh, and the tombs which she supposedly raids don't come up much either. Her butler, Hillary (Chris Barrie) gives her three job offers before all this Triangle nonsense comes up, but she declines them because they came on the 15th (presumably of May). That's a bad day, she tells us, because her father was killed that day. Her butler should know that, considering Lara's been an orphan since she was much younger. If she would have been given the requests on the 16th, would that have made much difference? Somehow, I doubt not; Lara doesn't seem particularly interested in tomb raiding.

Jolie makes a good Lara Croft (even if I'd have infinity preferred Rhona Mitra, who has modeled the character before). Having not played the games, I can only assume that the character is supposed to be English, and that wasn't just a creative decision made by the studios or director Simon West. Hopefully they kept close to the games, for the sakes of the fans of the games who want to see a close adaptation, but it doesn't impact me. Oh, and Daniel Craig is underused in another role. What a surprise.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider left me wanting more action. In an action film, I can't expect much more than that, but I didn't get as much action as I wanted, especially considering this is a video game adaptation. The plot is absurd, character decisions don't make sense, and there isn't actually much raiding of tombs going on. But that would be okay if I was entertained by the action sequences. I liked the first one a lot, but after that brilliance, we never get anything close to that again.

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Good things about this movie: the cast (Daniel Craig! Vaughn from Spooks! ARNOLD RIMMER!)
Bad things about this movie: Everything else.

Wonder what you think of the sequel, I've heard some say it's worse and some say it's better.

tomtom94:
Good things about this movie: the cast (Daniel Craig! Vaughn from Spooks! ARNOLD RIMMER!)
Bad things about this movie: Everything else.

Yeah, I agree here.

Wonder what you think of the sequel, I've heard some say it's worse and some say it's better.

To quote from my upcoming review: "[Cradle of Life] makes the last one seem great by comparison." Hopefully that answers it for you. ;)

 

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