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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider
Paramount
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted July 25, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Neither great nor the worst feature film I've seen this Summer, "Tomb Raider" is sufficently loud and busy enough to distract the eyes for 97 minutes (the presence of Angelina Jolie helps), but the film lacks in about every other catagory. Much like the rest of the Summer pictures, several screenwriters took a try at the script and it doesn't seem like any of them could come up with much of an engaging story - or, to go into greater detail - dialogue that isn't occasionally unintentionally funny.

Jolie plays Lara Croft, one of the most popular video game characters ever brought to the small screen. On the big screen, Croft is a heiress/photojournalist/tomb raider/crime fighter/you get the point. She lives in a giant mansion with an assistant named Bryce (Noah Taylor), a butler (Christopher Barrie) and thoughts about missing her father (Jon Voight), who dissapeared years ago. After an opening sequence where Lara takes on a robot opponent who she trains with, she stumbles onto a plot about a centuries old group who are planning for an event that hasn't happened in 5,000 years. The planets will align in a certain way, revealing two puzzle pieces that, when put together, will give the user the power of God.

And, from the begining onwards, we're never unsure of how it's all going to end. Jolie is sassy and vibrant and makes for a good action hero, but she's almost too good. Croft beats up every bad guy, including a small army that invade her house looking for a clock that's a piece of the puzzle. Her competition in the race is Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) and Glen's character (as well as the rest) are so one-dimensional that there's no real question about where this is going. Not only are the supporting characters one-dimensional, some of the performances are less than passable, with little energy. It's loud and chaotic, but we're never really that tense or that invested, since Lara not only seems to be having no trouble taking on her attackers, but laughs most of it off.

Speaking of Lara, that brings us to Angelina Jolie. Easily the best thing about "Tomb Raider", the actress adds at least some depth to her character that wouldn't have otherwise existed. She's buff, she's good with action sequences, but she doesn't quite have the humor that the film needs - it takes itself a little too seriously at times for a Summer picture. Jolie has a nice smirk, but she doesn't have the comedic timing (nor does the picture have the energy or humor) of Brendan Fraser's "The Mummy". Technical credits are generally very good. There's very good cinematography from Peter Menzies, Jr (who also worked on director West's "General's Daughter"), good production design from Kirk M. Petruccelli and a few scenes with respectable digital effects, although I won't give away the details of those sequences.

Look, I'm not asking for deep acting or fully-realized characters from a Summer movie and "Tomb Raider", although not great, is certainly not the worst thing I've seen this Summer. It's one of those films that just entertained me enough so that I wasn't tempted to go play the video games in the lobby. At the same time, there's nothing too memorable about it. Is a good villian too much to ask? Dialogue that doesn't inspire unintentional giggles? A plot that is a little bit more than something to string several action scenes on? Jolie succeeds quite pleasantly as Lara - I just wish the rest of the film could have risen to the challenge.

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