stars out of five
Video-game based action-adventure blockbuster that just about delivers in terms of its casting and action sequences, but falls on its face when it comes to script, plot, character and dialogue. (Though none of its target audience are likely to care too much).
Lady Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) is a rich adventuress who lives in a huge mansion with her vaguely mother-like butler Hilary (Chris ‘Rimmer’ Barrie) and her techno-head sidekick Bryce (Noah Taylor, last seen in Almost Famous).
On the anniversary of her father’s death (Jolie’s real-life dad John Voight plays Lara’s father in flashbacks), Lara stumbles across a journal that will lead her to one half of a mysterious triangular artefact capable of controlling time.
(Can you see where they’re going with this? You can? You should be writing these scripts yourself!) However, Evil Factions are also after the triangle for their own Nefarious Purposes, and it’s up to Lara to save the day and kick some serious butt into the bargain!
First things first: Tomb Raider is a far, far better movie than The Mummy Returns, although, admittedly, this isn’t saying very much. There are, at the very least, some good things to be said about Tomb Raider.
Firstly, Angelina Jolie is perfectly cast – she looks the part and the film-makers have sensibly stuck to the correct ‘look’ of tight shorts, ultra-tight top and twin thigh gun-holsters. Secondly, unlike The Mummy Returns, what CGI-work there is in Tomb Raider has been confined to the video-game-like stone zombie thingies, meaning that the impressive sets (courtesy of designer Kirk M. Petrucelli) were actually built by real humans, just like in the good old days.
Finally, two or three of the action sequences are superbly handled, with the ‘bungee-jumping-around-the-living-room-while-shooting-bad-guys’ scene a strong contender for the best and most original action scene of the summer.
Where the film scores less highly is in terms of character, plot and
dialogue. There’s very little humour in the film and what there is doesn’t work too well. For a character so clearly modelled on James Bond, it’s surprising not to find the same tongue-in-cheek approach to the dialogue – even Chris Barrie, though good, isn’t given any particularly funny lines, which, frankly, is a hugely wasted opportunity. (His character is just too nice).
As for the plot, it’s as wafer-thin as you’d expect from a film based on a video-game, but it’s made worse by all the pseudo-mystical
playing-around-with-time nonsense at the end. The characters are similarly underdeveloped – there’s an attempt at backstory with Daniel Craig’s character and Croft, but nothing is really made of it.
Similarly, some of the action sequences are very poorly handled, notably the opening scene with the robot and the motorcycle jump / shootout scene at the mansion – both are shot and edited so badly that it’s impossible to tell what’s going on.
Ultimately, then, as an action-adventure movie, Tomb Raider is a long, long way from the likes of Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, as a ‘video game movie’, it does exactly what it says on the tin, and its core audience of video-game-playing teenage boys won’t be disappointed.
In fact, if you’re aged between 12 and 18 you can probably go ahead and add another star to this review, as it also gives you not only a shower scene but what can only be described as ‘almost nudity’ into the bargain. Special mention, too, must go to Jolie’s Stunt Bra, which pretty much carries the film, so to speak. In short, as no-brainer blockbusters go, you could do worse.