Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Movie Review
Lara Croft’s first big blockbuster adventure, not only gathered fame but was also a box-office success back in 2001. The calibre, though, is sub-par.
Director: Simon West
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Iain Glen, Daniel Craig, Noah Taylor, Christopher Barrie, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Leslie Phillips, Ozzie Yue, Robert Phillips, Richard Johnson & Jon Voight.
Run Time: 100 min.
US Release: 15 June 2001
UK Release: 06 July 2001
German Release: 28 June 2001
Welcome to my first review for the two Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movies, which I plan posting along the next week, in anticipation of the newest Tomb Raider starring Alicia Vikander, and to be released 15th March in Germany. To be absolutely honest, I did not grow up playing the Tomb Raider games; I always preferred playing or replaying my Nintendo games, the first Metal Gear Solid, Rayman and a bunch of James Bond games. My first real interaction with a Tomb Raider game was Angel of Darkness, which didn’t impress me much. Ever since the franchise’s reboot in 2013, though, I became a real fan of the series.
However, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t know who Lara Croft is, as I watched many of my friends play the games on console or computer. Also, at the time of the film’s cinematic release, I was thirteen years old and wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way from watching Angelina Jolie in sexy action poses. I remember leaving the cinema with two of my friends, believing that we saw the best movie ever made. Fast forward 17 years later and my feelings about this game adaptation shifted dramatically!
----ATTENTION, BE AWARE OF SPOILERS!!! ----
Lara Croft (Jolie) is a member of a British aristocratic family. Following into her deceased father’s (Voight) footsteps, she spends her time uncovering tombs to find ancient artefacts. She is skilled in martial arts, weapons training, as well as able to talk several foreign and dead languages. As the planets of the solar system are falling into alignment, the secret society of the Illuminati begin to search for an ancient pyramid-shaped talisman, that will give the possessor the ability to control time once the planets are perfectly aligned. They have one week to find the talisman and Lara holds a piece to the puzzle. A race for time ensues, as Lara tries to beat the Illuminati, to save the world from a grizzly future (or past).
Rewatching this blockbuster, I was dazzled at the lack of content in the story, which isn’t very coherent. The plot is a complete structural mess, not following any logical path while jumping incomprehensibly from one scene to the next. The lack of story is clearly felt in between the action segments, as nothing of interest happens. Those gaps are simply filled montages of people travelling from one point to the next, while looking into the horizon and some unimportant characters trying to pull a funny one, by being obscene. That said, everybody involved with production never pretended to create a serious or compelling picture, which is why this movie can be enjoyed for what it is; silly action-adventure.
The dialogue, on the other hand, is truly abysmal, consisting of several cheesy one-liners, as well as complete strings of conversations that sound unnatural and over-the-top. Lara Croft doesn’t even talk at times, answering with a simple facial gesture or a sound. Some of the dialogue makes use of butt-jokes or simple swearing for comedic purpose, without really hitting home.
Angelina Jolie was perfectly cast as Lara Croft. She not only looks the part but is obviously having fun at embodying the character. Jolie knew that she signed up for a low-quality adaptation of a video game, yet she went with the script, trying to do her best at portraying the leading role. Lara herself is painted as a strong and independent woman, with a mind of her own but is also over-sexualised to a point that it borders on soft porn. Funny enough, it is exactly how Lara Croft was displayed in the games back then.
Iain Glen plays the villainous Manfred Powell, a member of the Illuminati out to obtain a pyramid-shaped artefact before Lara Croft does so herself. Glen, nowadays known for his role as Ser Jorah Mormont in the HBO series Game of Thrones, played the character so excessive that he came off like a cartoon caricature. The villain is a typical cliché bad guy with no depth that just wants the power to dominate the world.
The movie really drops the ball when it comes to computer-generated effects! The statues that come to life in the middle of the story, look like something a 1995 video game and move like stop-motion figures, rather than computer graphics. The computer animation for some black liquid looks ridiculously abstract. The stunt-coordination and fight choreography are so laughably bad, that it needed to be masked by multiple fast cuts. However, the bungee fight scene in the mansion was filmed superbly intense. Then there are the multiple cross dissolves that are used for exposition scenes, but what it does, is confuse the audience.
Verdict: I hadn’t seen this game adaptation in roughly 10 years and was shocked at how bad it actually is, not even qualifying as a good B-flick. The narrative construction is incomprehensible and hard to follow, while the dialogue is laughably cheesy and overblown, including boring scenes between fights that are tedious, with no entertaining value whatsoever. The characters are all monotonous and one-dimensional, which is especially true of the villain. Angelina Jolie had obvious fun with her role, knowing she was in a low-budget film without a spec of quality. Her scenes look sexy, with Jolie selling the part of Lara Croft. The cinematography is, for the longest part, horrible. The poor fighting coordination is masked; using multiple quick cuts, while the CGI and green-screen effects look bad, even for this pictures time. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a flick that can be enjoyed for simple entertainment, yet it still is a bad production and deserves a 3.5 out of 10.
Do you agree with my review of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider? Leave a comment below and let me know. My next review for Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, will follow next week. Until then, thank you for reading!