High society castle owner and video game character Lady Lara Croft, who spends her time and money hunting down rare artefacts, finds herself embroiled in mysteries that could endanger the world.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
I was fully expecting a genuinely terrible video game adaptation out of these movies, and as such I was pleasantly surprised. I actually enjoyed it, and not in a solely ironic way; the movie has a few good action scenes and a good sense of adventure about it, but Lara is also a genuinely cool heroine. Much is made of her boobs and her tight outfits, but she is strong and powerful, very much in charge, and takes shit from absolutely nobody. Even her outfits aren’t that provocative and are frequently downright practical. Angelina Jolie is actually really good in these movies. Her accent is impeccable, much better than Daniel Craig’s hatchet job American accent in the first film, and she regards everything with a cool indifference that’s perfect for the role – until she gets to do something dangerous and adventurous, at which point she comes to life. Her glee at getting to fight killer robots and go dogsledding without the sled is infectious, and she really brings across the sense of B-movie adventure that these films are trying to capture.
The first film, directed by Simon West in 2001, really takes advantage of its video game roots and the opportunites afford it by a move to the big screen. The big finale is rather gloriously steampunk, with a cool set piece and some…”special” special effects. There are also fun, silly moments that pull disbelief beyond suspension, but there’s a sense of joy about them. Everything is over the top and ridiculous, and the plot is paper-thin. Jon Voigt, who as we all know is Angie’s real dad, plays her dad in this movie too, with a less impressive accent than Jolie’s. Her father is her motivation throughout her journey, so it’s not totally surprising to discover he was mixed up with the bad guys all along. Iain Glen chews the scenery with aplomb as the film’s baddie. It’s a predictable ride, but an enjoyable one, full of tombs to be raided while sidekicks joke and Jolie kicks butt.
The second film in the series is The Cradle of Life, directed in 2003 by Jan de Bont. It lacks the first’s sense of B-grade Indiana Jones adventure, opting instead for a C-grade James Bond vibe, despite a much better supporting turn from Gerard Butler than Daniel Craig managed in the first. Lara travels around the world fighting evil Asian mobsters and eviler British scientists in order to find Pandora’s Box, which could destroy the world. There’s also an afterschool special morality about the second that weighs the movie down, and despite an obvious increase in funding it lacks imagination. The fight scenes are way less fun, and there’s only really one tomb being raided in the opening sequence, with less of Lara figuring out puzzles to solve the mystery (although she does effectively MacGyver a television to make a video phone at one point).
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider on IMDb