Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Let the dead stay dead…

Ah, those bee-stung lips. That playfully, sinfully long strand of hair that consistently drapes over that face, coincidentally misted with just enough perspiration to make it glow. Those two huge guns that bounce and twirl at every opportunity. Without a doubt, Angelina Jolie is the living embodiment of cyber-Venus Lara Croft. But then, Bob Hoskins was once the living embodiment of Mario, and we all know how that turned out. But what a great cross-over that could be…for Bob Hoskins, anyway.

Deep in a tomb, because after all, this isn't Lara Croft: Lingerie Store Raider and more's the pity, Lara stalks a mysterious golden gem. At this point, you might expect some sort of spectral defender, but instead she finds her way blocked by an advanced version of Robocop 2. No matter what she does, the thing just keeps coming. She keeps firing. It keeps coming, rising from the "dead" at least twice. Finally, she does the only thing she can do: grab the gem, which isn't really a gem, and put it in the robot. It turns out it's some sort of mini-disc, containing "Lara's Party Mix." Never mind that Lara really doesn't seem to be a party kind of girl, nor really have any friends. Or personality, but we'll get to that.

This whole sequence, aside from being obviously video-game like, has been a training exercise designed by Bryce (Noah Taylor). Living in an Airstream trailer on the grounds of stately Croft Manor, Bryce provides Lara with all her toys, technical knowledge, and impetus to brush her teeth. Rounding out her team comes the butler, Hilary, played with proper starchiness by Chris Barrie (Rimmer from Red Dwarf). After momentary giddiness over the exercise, and a kind shower scene from director Simon West, Lara sinks into a funk when she realizes that today is the anniversary of her father's disappearance. "May 15 is never a good day…" she murmurs, close to emulating sadness. Those wacky Brits. April 15 is never a good day.

Actually, this particular May 15 is a terrible day, because it marks the beginning of a planetary alignment (pretentious word for the day: syzygy, but the movie never uses that for fear it will make audiences' brows furrow and heads hurt). Somewhere in Europe, the evil Illuminati have gathered, searching for pieces of a mystic artifact that will allow them to conquer time itself, as long as they put it all together before the end of the alignment. As luck would have it, Lara has one of the pieces, hidden inside of an antique clock hidden inside a crate hidden inside a room hidden inside a staircase hidden inside of Croft Manor. That very night, it starts ticking. Or that might have been some audience member's wristwatch. It was an Indiglo.

There's more, but really, it doesn't matter. The Illuminati have an agent who recruits Lara's sometime boyfriend to help find the pieces. Despite it being clearly established that nobody knows where the pieces are at the beginning, everybody ends up in the exact exotic locales they need to be to find them. First, a temple in Kuala Lumpur (not even Indiana Jones went there!), which features the monkey statues that like Cherry Pepsi so much. Granted, this is based on a videogame, but not even The Mummy Returns so obviously substituted gameplay for script. Lara and the evil guys face the monkey things, then some griffin things, and then some three-faced multi-breasted Buddha thing. And it's all ho-hum, because we've all played games paced just like this. Occasionally a small child appears to Lara, trying to dissuade her from her path, but this potentially creative plot complication never develops. Instead, Lara throws in with the Illuminati, who she states she considers to be evil. Everybody fights some more in Siberia. Angelina Jolie's real dad, Jon Voight, appears, giving the single worst performance an Academy Award-winning actor has ever given in a movie, though Jolie herself comes a close second.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider makes a more interesting Taco Bell ad than a movie, and that's only because the ad has burritos in it. A credited six people wrestled this screenplay into its final form, and one of the stone monkeys could have done better. Or at least written Hamlet. West shoots everything like a drawn-out music video. Granted, that happens a lot in modern movies, but it stands out here because there's no flow of ideas. The action sequences borrow liberally from the gaming arena, and it's just irritating. Show us something we can't get from a gamepad ourselves. West does provide one cinematic innovation, and let's give him credit. At one point, Kuala Lumpur literally morphs into Venice in a neat transition scene. If he could only have caused any of his actors to morph into, well, actors, we might have had something.

Almost every human character here might as well have been left digital. Jolie has the look and the accent down, but she must have dwelled too much on the idea that the British are repressed. Subtle pouting passes for every emotion. As Alfred, er, Hilary, Barrie does a well-dressed Rimmer. Almost everyone else gets out-acted by the robot at the beginning.

And yet, for some reason we have the strangest craving for Cherry Pepsi…

What's it worth? $1

Derek McCaw


Reviewed: Evolution by Derek McCaw (Updated 6-15-01, 5:15 PM PST)
Well we all want to save the world...

Swordfish by Derek McCaw (Updated 6-12-01, 8:36 PM PST)
Halle has been berry, berry good to me...
L10 Web Stats Reporter 3.15 L10 Hit Counter - Free Web Counters
LevelTen Web Design Company - Professional Flash & Website Designers
Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001 by FanboyPlanet. If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies Comics Wrestling OnTV Guest Forums About Us Mystery Sites

Click Here!