Review: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Okay, so Angelina Jolie was born to play Lara Croft.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Okay, so Angelina Jolie was born to play Lara Croft, the fierce PlayStation heroine who scales archeological landscapes looking for hidden treasures. Her silky cowlicks are in just the right place. She’s got the swagger, a mixture of feminine allure and tough-as-nails virility. One problem: Simon West’s dreadfully boorish film doesn’t know how to handle a woman like Jolie. The film starts and returns from time to time to Croft’s British abode, a nerdy training ground that belonged to Croft’s father (Jon Voight). Lara’s daddy-complex isn’t as heavy-handed as it could have been though its not long before her mission becomes less about saving the world than it does about finding her way to papa. A straight-from-Batman butler played by Chris Barrie and a nerdy computer sidekick played by Noah Taylor only add to the overwhelming lethargy. Taylor’s talents are wasted but it’s Barrie who’s particularly embarrassing to watch—both circle Jolie like two geeks wanting to get in on the action. Croft’s kaleidoscopic video game world gets the bland color treatment here: No sizzling, rich earth greens or burnt browns to be found anywhere. Fortunately, there is enough camp to make up for the aesthetic deficiencies. Since Croft has to travel across the globe she’s been inexplicably made into a master linguist. In Cambodia and in the film’s icy finale, Croft bumps into two girls: one a Cambodian street urchin, the other a pint-sized Eskimo. The little girls aren’t really “there” per say. They’re merely spiritual guiding lights by which Croft gets closer to her father. It’s all a bunch of hooey but it’s fun to watch the melodrama unravel especially when the little girl trollops through a Cambodian temple giggling like an evil pixie. Jolie kicks ass. Too bad she’s trapped inside Atari’s Frogger.

 Cast: Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig, Leslie Phillips, Mark Collie, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Iain Glen, Jon Voight  Director: Simon West  Screenwriter: Michael Colleary, Patrick Massett, Mike Werb, Simon West, John Zinman  Distributor: Paramount Pictures  Running Time: 101 min  Rating: PG-13  Year: 2001  Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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