"Lara Croft: Tomb Raider"
Directed by Simon West.
Written by Patrick Massett and John Zinman. Based on the
Eidos video game.
Starring Angelina Jolie.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 6/24/01
When the Playstation version of "Tomb
Raider" first came out, I was all over it. A beautiful video game
with a rather disproportional lead character, the game emphasized
brains over brawn but provided for some good action sequences
nevertheless. It was much like another classic, "Prince of Persia",
in that you spent about 95% of your time figuring out where to find
a key or open a door or solve a riddle. The other five percent was
used blowing away monkeys, dogs, dinosaurs, and the occasional
The movie version of "Tomb Raider" is much
like the video game in terms of these percentages, except for one
95% of this movie sucks.
This was painful for me, because I let my
guard down (or, maybe it was the 55,000 commercials I saw for the
movie before going to the theater) and raised my expectations to a
ridiculously high level. And, beyond hiring Angelina Jolie to play
the title role--that of well-off adventurer Lara Croft--the movie
does so much wrong that by the time she is riding on that dog sled
out of the movie, I was already running for the door.
The story keeps things simple for an idiot
like myself: Lara must find two halves of a mysterious triangular
shape that apparently lets the beholder travel through time.
Conveniently, the two pieces are on opposite sides of the globe, one
in Cambodia, one in Iceland. So, Lara must track them down before a
dangerous rival (Iain Glen) gets to them first.
Remember how I was saying that almost the
entire video game is spent thinking about what piece of the puzzle
is next? That is the number one failing of this film; because she
has to do almost no work to find these two pieces of the triangle,
there is NO cerebral portion to the film. But, being a summer film,
there are guns aplenty, and Jolie is firing at just about everything
in sight in the course of the 90-minute film. The action scenes
were serviceable, and feature Jolie doing lots of her own stunts on
motorcycles, suspended ropes, and riding on those aforementioned dog
sleds. But, it felt totally unnecessary. And, I LIKE gunfire. In
this movie, it just felt gratuitous.
Beyond the casting of Jolie--who looks,
talks and walks the part--the rest of this movie is a dog. There is
no "adventure", per se; instead of a long, arduous journey to the
location of these artifacts, Croft gets airdropped to Cambodia and
drives to the artifact's temple is a hot SUV; with her GPS leading
the way, she shows up in 15 minutes, without even breaking a sweat!
If she had at least a little bit of difficulty getting to these
locations, I would have had a little more fun with it; she might as
well have told Scotty to beam her directly inside the temple. In
Iceland, they find the center of the earth so quickly that if you go
to the bathroom when Croft gets off of the chopper, you will miss
the transition scenes that get her to the inner core location. It
was like clockwork--
Lara's team lands in Iceland.
Lara's team hires dog sleds from some
Icelandic village; luckily for everyone on the team, the
villagers take cash (US dollars, in fact! What the hell are the
villagers going to do with that cash? Go Duty Free??).
The team gets land/water boats to take
them directly to the core, then they deploy by dog sled to get
right to the front door.
Lara rings a bell, and the door to the
core opens, like it was a mafia-style club!!
It was all so easy!! I was laughing
hysterically by this point. Movies are dumbing down so much that I
fear all of the major studio presidents think that America is one
big ADD-inflicted numbnut. Hopefully, the inevitable sequel to this
film will be smarter and embody the video game at least a little.
Those of us who came to see this movie because we liked the game are
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard