Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Movie adaptations of video games have a nasty habit of being pathetic. Does anybody want to remember Super Mario Bros? Bob Hoskins sure doesn't. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, based on Eidos Interactive's wildly popular computer game series, is better than the average adaptation, but there is still many things missing. On a purely superficial level, Angelina Jolie is the near-perfect embodiment of Lara, a sexy, part Indiana Jones part James Bond (she even has an Aston Martin) uber babe. Jolie (Gone in 60 Seconds, Girl, Interrupted) has the nearly impossible, uh, dimensions of Lara, the same skintight outfits, weapons, and the errant strands of hair. Even Jolie's off-screen bad-ass persona lends to Lara's appearance as a tough chick. The only thing missing is a personality. Now the filmmakers did this on purpose, but went a little too far. Lara blasts her way calmly through every conceivably situation, maintaining a Zen-like calmness. This does two things; first, it adds to her coolness. Nevertheless, she is so cool that sometimes it's almost as if she is dead.

Don't even worry about looking for a cohesive plot. There is one, and a whopping five people worked on it (Mike Werb and Michael Colleary for the story, Simon West for the adaptation, and Patrick Massett and John Zinman for the screenplay), but it comes secondary to the stunts and special effects. Don't even worry about good guys versus bad guys, since the lines blur continuously. Lara herself is not necessarily a 'good guy,' she is a tomb raider after all. In terms of Lara versus the people against her, allegiances are constantly shifting, and she even works with them for a good amount of time. Everybody is racing to find the pieces of an ancient artifact, that, when combined, will give them power over time. Lara wants this power to reunite with her father, missing for over fifteen years, while the Illuminati wants to rule the world. Tomb Raider is a chase around the world, with all parties trying to get to the pieces first.

Before directing other such intellectual stimulators such as Con Air and The General's Daughter, Simon West made commercials. His experience there shows here. He wants to cram in as much action as possible into every action sequence, swinging the camera wildly and cutting rapidly between people and views. It makes for some spectacular sequences, but combined with Jolie's stoicism, makes for some lifeless action. This quick editing also does not allow the camera to linger on the sets, which are extremely well done. Lara and company trek across the world, filming in exotic locales like Cambodia and Iceland. The final confrontation takes place in a cavern reminiscent of Jules Verne. Cambodia in particular is a treat that the eyes miss because things pass so quickly. This is the first time the government allowed filming in and around the ancient temples at Angkor Wat. Tomb Raider ends up as eye candy, and little else, aside from a possibly lucrative franchise.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 33 minutes, Rated PG-13 for action violence and some sensuality.

Back to Movies