Lara Croft – Tomb Raider
One of the most highly anticipated films of the summer was also one of the biggest disappointments. It was certain that a film based on the record breaking video game series and featuring the curvaceous Angelina Jolie would have been a hit. It is understandable why the critics and gaming enthusiasts gave it a well-deserved kicking. The key to the premise of ‘video-game-to-big-screen’ is keeping the appeal of the game. However in the case of Tomb Raider, everything that should be there is there, the guns, the sexy lead in her shorts and tight top, the exotic settings and the action, but it just does not gel at all. It seems the army of screenwriters were trying to appeal to a larger audience than just the gaming community, and ended up with the classic ‘Joel Schumacher’s 'Batman & Robin' franchise-destroying scenario. Utter Hollywood drivel, but with a high glossy sheen to it.
It begins with photojournalist and archaeologist Lara Croft living in her enormous mansion with her faithful butler, played unbelievably badly by Chris Barrie (he of Red Dwarf fame – hang your head in shame) and her tech-head sidekick Bryce (Noah Taylor). Lara spend most of her time training with killer robots and in a home gymnasium like no other. She is constantly thinking of her long lost father (Jon Voight). For some reason Lara, one day discovers a hidden clock she heard ticking in her own house. It is one of the many coincidences and down right stupid moments of the film. Luckily earlier, her father had left her a note regarding the Illuminati, an ancient cult intent on finding a timepiece that will lead them to the two pieces of the Triangle Of Light. Again, luckily, this timepiece is the one discovered in Lara’s mansion. The Triangle Of Light, when re-assembled at correct alignment of the planets, which occurs every 5000 years, gives the lucky owner, the power to control time…………….which is nice. The Illuminati steal the timepiece from the Croft household and led by the main villain Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) try to acquire the two missing pieces.
Lara must now race around the globe after the Illuminate and Powell, who intends to keep the power for himself. Locations include the Far East and North Pole. That is the sum of a very weak plot for this wasted attempt.
The problem with this movie is that the Lara Croft character has so much potential, and Jolie is very easy on the eye. Its overdone and very poorly paced. The ludicrous coincidences seem to have been written as an afterthought. I can imagine the writers sitting around thinking, how can we get Lara around the world fast enough to catch up with the Illuminati? – wait, let’s make her extremely friendly with the Armed Forces who will fly her there and parachute her jeep and supplies too. Its explained away with just a photograph of her with what looks like a Special Forces SEAL team fully dressed up for jungle warfare, so I guess she was a former SEAL member? Also no one blinks an eyelid when a complete ‘SWAT’ team crashes into the Croft Estate and is fought off with one wooden butler and a 22 year old in pyjamas.
The whole film reeks of an attempt to please all, which leads to another point, even though its is a child’s films, the gratuitous (for a kiddies film anyway) shower scene is tacked on just for the ‘older’ fans. Very shallow and pointless, but the only bit I enjoyed.
The entire film was a roller coaster of fast editing techniques and high octane action, but was unbelievably boring to suffer through. At no point did you care about anyone on screen (apart from what will happen to half of the cast’s careers?). Director Simon West shames himself and should have stuck to his original refusal to direct (The head honchos at Eidos, the makers of the game, were convinced that the guy behind Con Air and The Generals Daughter was the right man for the job and persuaded him to direct).
Angelina Jolies is good enough to pass as Lara Croft, and if she had a reasonably intelligent and coherent script, she could have elevated it into a franchise such as the first few Batman films. Unfortunately her good performance is totally wasted in this mindless script. When will film makers realise that special effects do not make-up for a uninspired story. The blatant plagiarism from classics such as Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Batman, Matrix and James Bond do not make a hit movie either.
My only hope is that the gaggle of script writers who have destroyed a potentially lucrative franchise, have done so with enough conviction that no studio will agree to a sequel. We can but pray.
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