Tomb of Gloom
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is directed by Simon West and stars Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, and Daniel Craig. It is based on the Tomb Raider video game series featuring the Lara Croft character.
The original 1996 Tomb Raider video game was critically acclaimed and went on to be highly influential for future 3D action-adventure video games. The game follows the adventures of English archaeologist Lara Croft as she searches for ancient treasures. By all means, the idea of an archaeologist hunting down ancient artifacts before someone else gets to them has a lot of potential and would certainly make for a good series of action-adventure films.
And it has. It's called Indiana Jones.
But let's pause for a second. We should not immediately dismiss Tomb Raider as a ripoff of Indiana Jones, because we never see Lara Croft wear a hat or use a whip, and she doesn't have any sort of recognizable John Williams theme song. However, her and Indy have the same kind of end goal: prevent ancient treasures from falling into the wrong hands. So in order to put all Lara Croft-Indiana Jones comparisons to bed, let's just say that Lara Croft slightly resembles a female Indiana Jones and leave it at that.
Now then, to the more important matter at hand: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a video game movie, and "video game movie" is a toxic combination of words that will have almost all movie fans dry-heaving and crying tears of sadness. The one and only thing someone needs to know about video game movies is simply that they are not good. We have been trying for, my goodness, I think almost 30 years now, to make a good movie based on a video game, and we still have yet to do it. Who knows what exactly the problem is? It could be simply be that movies and video games just happen to go together as well as oil and water. But had it been that simple, we would have cut our losses and abandoned the idea of making movie adaptations out of video games some years back. And seeing how something like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider raked in $274 million plus change at the box office, filmmakers wouldn't even dream of calling it quits on the video game genre.
So anyway, Angelina Jolie is Lara Croft, and in this movie, Lara Croft finds herself up against members of the Illuminati. The Illuminati are in search of a key that will rejoin the two halves of a powerful artifact known as The Triangle, which would give its user the power to control time and space. Lara dreams of her father (Jon Voight, who just so happens to be Angelina Jolie's real life father), who had went missing several years before. In the dreams, Lara's father tells her about a planetary alignment, which is a key to finding the pieces of The Triangle. After uncovering various clues, Lara goes out in search of the two pieces of The Triangle. However, two others are also in search of The Triangle pieces: Illuminati member Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) and tomb raider Alex West (Daniel Craig).
- One thing no one can take away from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is its perfect casting of Angelina Jolie in the title role. She had the looks (just like the game, certain body parts are given extra attention) and the attitude to thrive in the role, and she is able to do the action with patent aplomb. Some other, less qualified actress would probably have gotten mocked and laughed at. Not Jolie. She is totally convincing in the role, and proved that her ability to perform action sequences in this movie was no fluke, by starring in several successful future action films like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Salt.
- It's too bad, honestly, because Jolie's best efforts can't save Lara Croft: Tomb Raider from being little more than a bland and shallow affair that's utterly silly. Jolie might look good in the action scenes, but you're kidding yourself if you think there's anything in them resembling suspense. Lara mows down bad guy after bad guy, the action scenes flying through with almost blazing speed and never offering us the opportunity to witness Lara in real danger. Scenes end just as quickly as they begin, the plot going from point to point with a sugar rush and without a care in the world about when things begin to stop making sense. Lara swings her guns and smirks like she knows she has everything under control, and scenes where she flips, swings, and run are likely to draw eye-rolls because the movie stages them in such ridiculous ways. It's hard not to be won over and at least feel a tad bit of enjoyment, because it is a smoking hot Angelina Jolie playing the role, and believe me, the movie makes sure you get the eye candy you want.
On a genuine note, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a bad movie on nearly every front. The thin plot is standard adventure fair that brings too much of Raiders of the Lost Ark to mind. Don't get your hopes up about the movie giving you full-bodied characters or action scenes that generate real excitement and not just cheap silliness. All you'll find here is an enjoyable Angelina Jolie performance, whose charisma and supermodel-esque physique are enough to save the movie from being a complete disaster.
The movie's abundant silliness gives it some entertainment value, and I'm sure the silliness along with Angelina Jolie in the title role provides this movie with all the makings of a bonafide guilty pleasure. I didn't enjoy it enough to consider it a guilty pleasure of my own, but absolutely nothing about it made me feel intense anger. Of course, why get angry over a movie that belongs to a hopeless genre?
Recommend? Only if you're a big fan of Angelina Jolie
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: