Video-Game Month: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) Review

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You have to give the first big screen outing of Tomb Raider credit: at least the casting was spot-on. Although a polygon woman hardly pointed studios in the direction of a real-life actress, casting Angelina Jolie was a savvy move and one that started to show that the studio understood what was required to make this adaptation of the blockbuster videogame franchise work.

Unfortunately, like many videogame movies, it didn’t quite translate the way you’d hope but maybe that isn’t the studio’s fault, maybe it is just that Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider isn’t actually that suited to being a movie. There is little story to her early adventures, it is lots of walking (awkwardly) around the same sand-coloured crypts until you stumble across a puzzle, dinosaur or something else equally as random.

 

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The film is little more than an Indiana Jones rip-off

 

So with little of actual substance coming from the game, it isn’t surprising that the studio went with an Indiana-Jones rip-off and a poor one at that. So we have a heroine who is an archaeologist, who trains with a super-robot and has a hacker side-kick to attempt to offer poor comic relief. She is up against the Illuminati in an attempt to stop them getting some random McGuffin that will make them unstoppable. It is hardly inspiring stuff and it offers nothing new.

Jolie is very good in all the action sequences and plays a convincing adventurer, from swinging on relics to shooting her twin pistols. The less said about her “English” accent the better but at least it isn’t as bad as Daniel Craig’s American one. The villain is Game of Thrones alumni Iain Glen and he slots nicely into the cookie-cutter British villain that always seems to emerge when world-domination is up for grabs.

 

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Jolie plays the character well

 

The set-pieces are well-staged but hardly anything new. Jolie is good at swinging from ropes to dispatch villains to using her environment to destroy stone monsters or climbing up ancient, moving relics. It is all very samey and hardly exciting. Even when the attempt at a “story” begins to emerge, it is the same stuff Harrison Ford was doing with Sean Connery back in the late 80s.

The fact that this led to a sequel is impressive and as video-game movies go, it is one of the better ones, but that isn’t any high accolade. Jolie is great as a kick-ass female but she is also doing that in better movies with Salt or Mr and Mrs Smith.

Overall, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a decent attempt at bringing a classic video-game character to the big-screen but with little of substance in the source material, what you are left with is an Indiana Jones rip-off. It is as generic and predictable as can be and although Jolie is great, it isn’t enough to save this from being average.

Rating – 2

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

 

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A good attempt poorly executed

 

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