'Tomb Raider' succeeds where other movies based on video games fail
By Jack Garner
Gannett News Service
|LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER
(Rated PG-13 with moderate violence, sexual suggestiveness)
Three Stars (Good)
An entertaining action-adventure, based on popular video games, about a female variation of Indiana Jones, out to save the world from ancient curses and modern villains. A weak plot and villains are overcome by Angelina Jolie's appealing, witty portrayal of the title character. Simon West directs. Paramount, 96 mins.
It's "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," the adventures of a wily, acrobatic English lass-turned-warrior, out to save the world from ancient curses and modern villains. Her obvious predecessors include Batman, since she lives in a mansion with a helpful manservant and a nerdy, Robin-like assistant; and especially Indiana Jones, since her adventures take her to archeological digs, ancient tombs and exotic locales.
Don't get me wrong, Lara Croft is no Indiana Jones. Still, Croft's kick-butt action and seductive brains-and-brawn combination have made her the queen of video games.
As brought to life on the movie screen by Angelina Jolie, Croft has her own distinct charms, especially for a character that began life in virtual reality. She's got attitude, wit, determination athleticism, and a ton of warrior skills.
And then there's that legendary bustline that even the sexy Jolie had to be padded out to fill.
In "Tomb Raider" all the planets are about to align in a rare astrological phenomenon that occurs once every 5,000 years. Croft discovers that her late father has left her an elaborate key to a mysterious ancient puzzle.
The two remaining pieces are at opposite ends of the earth Cambodia and Iceland and if they're brought together, with the key, amazing power is generated that can control time and space.
Croft must find the puzzle pieces and destroy them before the film's evil opposition gets control.
Despite holes in the plot and confusing camera angles on action sequences, Jolie holds our attention with her entertaining portrayal of the title character. With humorous attitude, sly posturing and smart asides, she provides just the right amount of fun; allowing us to forgive the plot's occasional lapses in logic or its dependence on mythological gobbledygook.
Jolie also handles the role's considerable physical demands with aplomb. Whether she's bouncing from the ceiling on bungee cords or diving off a dam, she makes you believe she does it every day. She's so absolutely right for the role it's impossible to conceive anyone else doing it.
Also appealing are her two cohorts; the butler, played with dry humor by Chris Barrie, and sidekick and tech guru Bryce, played with exasperated wit and nerdy energy by Noah Taylor. In addition, Jolie's real-life father, Jon Voight, has a few ingratiating moments as Croft's deceased father, shown in flashbacks.
Less appealing are Manfred Powell, Croft's long-time enemy, blandly played by Iain Glen, and another tomb raider (and possibly former lover) Alex (Daniel Craig). Both characters seem interchangeable and forgettable and easy foes for Croft to dispatch.
Memo to filmmakers: If Croft is to have more screen adventurers, please create and cast worthy adversaries.
Rated PG-13, with moderate violence and sexual suggestiveness.