Home Year 2001 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Her suspicions had been correct - they were indeed guns.
Her suspicions had been correct – they were indeed guns.

Twitter Plot Summary: Lara Croft makes the transfer from video games to the big screen in a mostly vacuous action romp.

Five Point Summary:

1. Chris Barrie, always a pleasure.
You can tell he’s a villain because he likes black.
3. Daniel Craig and his awkward American accent.
4. Stone idols… alive!
5. Some nonsense about time travel…

There was a time (as in the mid 90s) when Lara Croft was solid gold in terms of her popularity and media saturation, a creation who had managed to transcend the fact she was a fictional video game character and transferred into a mainstream icon. Sadly for her (and her creators), the subsequent sequels to the original Tomb Raider game gradually ruined the forward momentum generated in that era, and a slow downward spiral would ensue until the release of The rebooted Tomb Raider in 2013. Of course, before all of that were two Tomb Raider movies starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft.

The plot of this first movie is pure gubbins, even more far-fetched than those that featured in the video games – the alien plot from the original Tomb Raider game included. The reason for Lara and the bad guys raiding the tomb(s) in this instance is tied in with an ancient prophecy involving planetary alignment. It’s this that brings together bored adventurer Lara Croft, villain Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) and fellow tomb raider Alex (Daniel Craig) who is in Powell’s employ.

There are clearly moments targeted towards the rabid fanboys – Lara clambering into the shower being just one of them – but for the most part this is Indiana Jones for the iPod generation, a whistle stop tour through the relics left by ancient civilisations and a story that doesn’t care so much for the history provided there’s opportunity for something to explode or for Angelina Jolie to pout at the camera.

Simon West directs with all the verve of a post-90s action director, which inevitably means that it’s primarily style over substance. In that respect it’s not too dissimilar from the many other action films released during this era. There’s a lot going on despite the wafer thin narrative, but all the noise and CGI can only disguise this to a point.

If you weren't entirely convinced by the greased back hair and the black outfit - he's a bad guy.
If you weren’t entirely convinced by the greased back hair and the black outfit – he’s a bad guy.

Daniel Craig rocks up, pre-Bond, with a painful American accent as Alex. He does at least look like he’s enjoying himself playing a male version of Lara with less scruples. It would have been better for him to use his native accent, but then if he had done that everyone would be speaking in an English accent and that would no doubt be frowned upon.

On the more positive side, Chris Barrie is a hoot as Lara’s faithful butler, a less uptight Arnold Rimmer in a smart suit, and Iain Glen as the villain Manfred Powell – you can tell he’s a bad guy because he’s both English and dresses entirely in black – exudes a perfect level of slimey charm. Seriously, the man should be in absolutely everything ever made.

In hindsight perhaps Jolie isn’t the best choice for playing Lara Croft, but then at the time it’s hard to think of anybody else who may have been suitable. Today, in the post Tomb Raider reboot era, there are a few more potential actresses to choose from, and given how keen Hollywood is to reboot everything these days it would be interesting to see how they would approach casting her now.

Today the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider retains a cheesy level of charm and bubblegum levels of inoffensiveness, but in the grand history of cinema it stands to be considered as a cult favourite and nothing more.

Score: 3/5

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