Tomb Raider: Beautiful on the eye, empty on the mind

Do you want to go see Tomb Raider? It all sounded so innocent, but I really should learn to say no to queries like that. Or at least suggest another movie.

Lady Lara Croft [Angelina Jolie] is a bored rich girl who dabbles in archaeology to feel closer to her dead father, Lord Richard Croft [Jon Voight]. Her archaeological methods are dubious enough to make tomb raider a more appropriate job description. She inherits a quest and a clock from her father, the quest is to find two pieces of a mystical ancient object and destroy them to prevent the Illuminati from gaining the power over the time stream and the clock is the key to their whereabouts.

Fighting the good fight along side her, is loyal butler, Hillary [Chris Barrie] and her gadget wizard, Bryce [Noah Taylor]. Hillary is the quintessential British manservant, the type of man who doesn’t bat an eye at any of the eccentricities of his mistress. Bryce on the other hand is a geek, happier playing with his electronic toys rather than dealing with people.

Manfred Powell [Iain Glen] is a lawyer whose real passion is clocks, and it is a clock that initiates his meeting with Lara Croft. He has his own interests in the clock, ones that coincides with his duties to the Illuminati. Employed as a tomb raider for the other team is Alex Cross [Daniel Craig], ex-lover and current rival of Lara Croft.

It’s impossible to review this film without giving the plot away — good guys and bad guys on a race to find a shiny thing — because there’s so little of it. It’s an Indiana Jones film, minus the story and the humour. Attempts to insert back history via Lord Croft and the Illuminati are stilted and clumsy. And the chemistry between Lara and Alex is non-existent, nothing resembling an emotion passes between the characters.

Angelina Jolie is a passable Lara Croft. She fits the costume, has all the required bits that jiggle at the appropriate moments and no acting is necessary for the part. My choice would have been Xenia Seeberg, Xev from The Lexx, who makes Angelina Jolie look like a pale imitation, but then Miss Jolie is an infinitely better choice than Sandra Bullock, who was considered for the role at one time. Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie’s father, seemed a package deal — he read his lines and didn’t move about a lot.

Iain Glen was forgettable as a bad guy, the part was so two dimensional it could have been played by a cardboard cut-out. Alex Cross was equally nondescript as a wavering hired gun.

Noah Taylor had an almost interesting part as a tech geek, but barely made an effort with his lame attempt at a cockney accent — even Angelina Jolie did a better job with her accent. The only really enjoyable character was Chris Barrie’s Hillary, he had great presence and managed to score the few humorous lines in the movie, but then as a Red Dwarf fan, I’m probably a tad biased.

The small children used to prod Lara in the right direction were annoying. Children in American movies are a bad thing, mostly falling into the ‘look at me’ category through either poor acting skills or clueless direction, and these kids are no exception. They are a hindrance to the flow of the movie and should have been cut.

Loud does not equal quality. The music was poorly selected and did not suit anywhere it was used, and the sound effects often edged into the realms of distraction.

The special effects were well done, but some concepts are way over the top. Lara’s training robot is ludicrous and smacks of something crammed in after the fact. The ‘X-Men’s Danger Room’ may have been cool in the 70s, but it looks dated now, so ripping the idea off is strange to say the least.

The sole saving grace of the film is its scenery, the locations selected are beautiful. Angkor Wat in Cambodia is stunning and the many English locations including; Battersea Power Station, Elveden Hall, Hatfield House and Leadenhall Market, are perfection. Both the interior and exterior scenes are wonderfully ornate, but beg the question of why even a fraction of the attention to set design wasn’t directed towards the script.

Overall this is a pretty ordinary movie. If you’re out for some mindless entertainment, are a fan of the bullet-fest or are just partial to a well built lass in a padded bra and a tight white t-shirt, you’ll probably love this film. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something a little deeper, I’d like to know what drugs you were taking when you thought this film was a candidate.

But when compared with the trailers before the film — Evolution, Final Fantasy and Jurassic Park 3 — Tomb Raider starts to look a whole lot better.

Published Epinions — 03.07.2001
Published WrittenByMe — 03.07.2001
DVD available from Amazon US, Sendit UK and DevotedDVD AU.

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  1. Laura

    19 November 2004 at 8.17 pm

    I would like to applaud you on your literary prose, however, i disagree with just about everything you have said. As a young woman i find both the Tomb Raider movies and Lara Croft as a character to be valuable rolemodels and messages to women in our society. I believe this because, it is refreshing to see a strong, independent woman on the big screen. Angelina Jolie has taken on this role as Lara Croft with passion and dedicated her time to best fitting this role. There was a high level of physical training involved that would be beyond the capabilities of most woman, but instead of allowing for stunt doubles, Angelina Jolie showed no fear and took on the challenge of becoming the character that has given so many women strength, and allowed them to dream about how life could be without fear for women in the 21st Century. Angelina Jolie is someone that many look up to for her great individuality, passion, dedication and independance, just to name a few qualities. She is a great, strong female rolemodel who doesn’t find the need to go weak at the knees when matched with a male character. I agree the scenery is beautiful, but theres much more to the film. On a final note, i would like to ask you whether you would have still belittled the main character to the same degree had it been male.


  2. Red Wolf

    19 November 2004 at 9.46 pm

    A crap movie is a crap movie regardless of who’s in it. Tomb Raider was poorly written and poorly directed, having a couple of good actors thrown in wasn’t enough to save it.
    Your comments say nothing about the movie, more about the character and the actor. Both of which may well be admirable, but this is a movie review, something to be taken as a whole and as a whole it was mindless garbage. And I’d like to know exactly how I belittled Lara. For pointing out that the character was dolled up as a marketing gimmick to horny teenage boys? I think you should be having a bitch to the writer and director about that.
    I smell a little sexism from your comment in that you think a bad movie is made good because someone pretty is in the lead, I’ll let Catwoman speak for itself on that score.
    At least Angelina can act, which is more than can be said for the wooden Halle Berry


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