Rewind Reviews – Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Posted on 18 June 2018
By Andrew Siddall
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To celebrate the release of Tomb Raider (2018), starring Alicia Vikander, and the latest videogame Shadow of the Tomb Raider, this Rewind Review will be taking a look at the over-the-top original movie from 2001, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Based on the 90’s Tomb Raider videogame series by Eidos Interactive, Lara Croft sees the gun-toting action heroine of the title, attempt to obtain the Triangle of Light, a mysterious device that can control time, before it falls into the hands of the Illuminati.

American Angelina Jolie takes the lead as Brit Lara, a casting that stirred some controversy initially, but after 10 minutes, she puts those fears to rest by, not only nailing the British accent, but handles herself in the action scenes extremely well and brings some much needed depth to what was a fairly 2-Dimensional character.

This version of Lara is a sexy, thrill-seeking adventurer that’s always excited and fascinated by her discoveries, something that the 2018 reboot side-stepped in favour of a much more serious interpretation. Angelina Jolie does a fantastic job and truly was the perfect choice for the role.

Directed by Simon West with a screenplay by Patrick Massett and John Zinman, the story takes some of the elements from the games and was able to craft a new story that genuinely does attempt to find some emotion behind the action, with a story revolving around Lara’s father, Lord Richard Croft, played by Jolie’s real-life father John Voight.

On Lara’s team is tech expert Bryce, played by Noah Taylor, and Butler Hillary, played by Red Dwarf’s Chris Barrie. Both characters have a small part to play and are able to help Lara on her quest, they even manage to sprinkle a few moments of humour into the story.

We also see a pre-Bond Daniel Craig, who’s sporting an awful American accent. He has a good part as rival Tomb Raider, Alex West, but makes little impact on the overall story and only acts as an obstacle for Lara.

This wouldn’t be an action movie without an antagonist, so we are introduced to Iain Glen’s Manfred Powell. It’s immediately obvious he’s the villain when he appears, with his black clothes, a constant scowl, a British accent and slicked-back hair. He has no personality and only serves as an excuse for Lara to have a challenge.

The plot is simple and reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), with Lara racing against time to assemble the pieces to the Triangle of Light before the planetary alignment, which only happens every 5000 years. It works well for an action movie and is able to allow the characters to travel anywhere in the world.

The issue with the plot is the pacing. It’s quick, but filled with large gaps in time, such as Lara trying to escape a collapsing cave, but it cuts before she gets out to the next scene of her back at Croft Manor a while later. It would have been good to have some time to breathe and let the dust settle.

Even though the game had a big influence in the decisions by the filmmakers, the movie is just as influential to the games that followed, with Tomb Raider: Legend, Anniversary and Underworld using multiple elements, such as the backstory with Lara’s parents as well as the design layout for Croft Manor.

That being said, there are a few moments that the games avoided, including the strange appearance of a girl who shows up twice during the film and gives Lara a clue to any puzzles. There’s no explanation and it seems like an odd decision to include, especially when there’s no payoff or reason behind it.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was released in 2001, in the time when the world was still reeling from The Matrix (1999), so naturally this film includes a few nods and echoes, such as Lara using a bungie cord to run along a wall with plenty of wirework stunts throughout.

The action in this movie is nothing short of fantastic. It’s staged well with great framing that shows everything going on, with some good editing that enhances the pace of each sequence and keeps the audience glued to the screen. There’s a few moments of shaky-cam, but it’s short and doesn’t distract from the action.

The only issue with the action scenes is a lack of any tension or any sense of danger. Everyone is pretty much safe apart from the disposable soldiers, which Lara makes short work of in some surprisingly brutal ways.

Tomb Raider has always dabbled with the supernatural, so there are a few moments when Lara has to confront stone creatures and travel to a weird dimension, which is only possible through CGI and puppetry.

There are plenty of CGI effects on display, but also a fair amount of practical ones too that give the actors something to interact with, such as a mechanical robot in an early sequence. The CGI is pretty average for its time, and to an extent, it still looks alright.

The real issue with the effects are the way the characters react to anything out of the ordinary. They don’t seem fazed by things such as a 30ft. walking statue with three faces and swords.

Being an adventure movie, there’s plenty of locations and sets, all of which are chosen well and look authentic, with certain locations, such as an Egyptian tomb, looking like something taken straight from the games.

The score by Daredevil’s Graeme Revell sounds like something from the late 90’s, with lots of drum and base music. It really suits the film and the choice of songs enhances the entertainment greatly.

Overall, this is a brainless action flick, but it’s a ton of fun, with an awesome lead character, some great action scenes and a fitting story. This isn’t a great movie by any means, but it’s very hard to not have a good time with it. Just sit back and enjoy.

Purple Revolver rating: 3/5. An entertaining videogame adaptation.