Lara Croft is an adventurous heiress who resides in a mansion in London with her butler and techno-geek friend. A fearless tomb raider, Lara discovers a mysterious clock within the walls of her mansion which appears to be a key to unlock powers that, if fallen into the wrong hands, could mean devastation to the world. When Manfred Powell, a so-called 'lawyer' learns of Lara's discovery of the key, it soon becomes a battle between good and evil over who will gain the powers...
You have to wonder why they keep insisting on making full-length feature films out of popular video games. Sure, it may sound like a good idea at first, but it never turns out well on screen. The live action Mario Brothers film was awful. Wing Commander flopped big time. The Mortal Kombat films were laughable. But why does Hollywood keep insisting that video games would make great films? Games are meant to be an interactive experience, not a feature-length film. They're usually thinly-written basic plots that merely serve as a platform for the player to become the main character and guide them through an adventure. When the game becomes a movie, it's more or less like watching someone else play the game.
With that said, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a movie based on the popular video game, Tomb Raider. Academy Award Winner Angelina Jolie fills in the shoes - or should I say boots - of the treasure-hunting beauty, Lara Croft. The script Angelina is given to work with is flat, weak, and overtly simple. The outcome is basically a simple-minded action/adventure film. In actuality, this is fine if you like this kind of movie. In essence, The Mummy Returns is pretty much such a film, but Tomb Raider has the ambition to be a whole lot more. As you watch it, you can't help but wonder how much better it would be with smoother directing, a better script, a retooled plot, and more engaging action sequences. Your villian here is pretty one-dimensional and typical. He's what some would probably deem the "cookie cutter bad guy." Nothing like putting Lara Croft up against a man completely set on world domination, eh?
Still, something saved this film from complete ruin for me... but I have no clue what it is, unfortunately. It certainly wasn't boring. It was a mindless, fun film for the adventure-loving kid in us. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I had read countless reviews for the film, prior to seeing it, that completely tore apart and rendered the movie worthless and gut-wrenchingly unwatchable in my mind, so by the time the film ended for me, I wondered exactly why it was roasted in the way it was. Of course, I agree the plot was weak, the dialog seemed written by a 7 year old (no offense to any 7-year-olds), and the directing made some intense scenes seem a little "ho-hum" at times. Another thing that hurt this film, was a lot of seemingly borrowed aspects in the film. For instance, Jolie jumps from a waterfall to escape capture as Harrison Ford did in The Fugitive. And one action sequence looks as though it was composed after the author had just watched the 1999 version of The Mummy. Although a lot of critics frowned upon this, it didn't bother me as much as it did them, but I could still see their points.
As far as content goes, the film isn't all too bad for a PG-13-- especially with how 'sensual' the overall presence of Lara Croft is supposed to be. With that said, we see her taking a shower (mainly from the shoulders up), making faces in slow motion as if she's filming a sexy music video or a promo for an adult film, and after she gets out and wraps a towel around herself, she throws it off in front of her butler, and we see parts of the sides of her bare chest, but nothing further (and it's brief). There is also a scene where Daniel Craig steps out of the shower nude to check to see if someone had invaded his home, and we see him from the navel up, but also see other people's reactions to his nudity (with no explicit nudity shown, aside from his hips). Language was pretty mild with only about 4 "S" words, and blood and gore was limited to blood dripping down Lara's arms and hands as she catches a knife (and a few other scrapes and bruises along the way). Violence is high but not too graphic as people are shot, kicked, punched, stabbed, and are affected by other assorted random acts of violence.
Overall, I thought the movie was no more than average. It should have and could have been a whole heck of a lot better... but it's not. It's good brainless fun entertainment if you really don't expect much and are in the mood for improbable action/adventure.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 6/17/01; edited 5/28/21)
For its 20th Anniversary, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider has been remastered in 4K UHD for a new release, bundled with its only sequel, the 2003 The Cradle of Life. The 4K pack comes with one disc each for the two films, with the only special features being feature commentary. The 4K UHD 2-disc set does come with digital copies, however, which will likely contain the bonus features that are also included in the separate 20th Anniversary Blu-Ray release of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 4K UHD - It's kind of crazy to think this movie is 20 years old now. One can certainly wonder why I'd even want to revisit these films, but the idea of editing these reviews a bit and seeing how the 4K treatment works with these movies was a little tempting. Since its initial release, I've probably only seen Lara Croft: Tomb Raider once or twice - and only a couple years ago after watching the far better 2018 reboot starring Alicia Vikander. My rewatching of the movie was about as sour as my initial viewing, but it was interesting to see it again, this time in 4K. At first, as the movie began, the picture quality really didn't seem much better than a normal Blu-Ray transfer, but as the movie progressed, I really noticed the clarity and color has greatly improved. Honestly, the new transfer really brought some life and vitality to the movie. It's not much, but it certainly boosted the film a little. As I watched it, and at times it did feel taxing to get through, I kept wondering what could have saved this movie and elevated it. For one, the script is terrible. The dialog is often childish and while the actors all do their best, there just isn't much to work with. It's not funny when it's supposed to be, and it's not really cool when it thinks it is. I think a strong, sweeping Indiana Jones-style score could have actually added a lot to the movie. The fast, 90's grade techno music is painfully dated and isn't even the good kind of techno. David Arnold did a good job mixing electronic elements into his cinematic James Bond scores of the 90's, and I think someone like him could have possibly made it work here. But I couldn't even pinpoint a musical theme for you here. There just lacks punch and emotion in the whole movie. Jolie is a great choice for Lara and she's got what it takes to pull off the role, but they focus way too much on her mugging and trying to look smug, cool and sexy than giving you a character to connect with. Sure, she's lovely to look at here, but scenes like the gratuitous shower scene is just awkward and exploitative, even though Jolie seems totally up for debasing herself. It's also funny to watch this and see Daniel Craig as a sort of male "tomb raider" when we know now that he'll go on to play James Bond in Casino Royale five years later. Ironically, too, Jolie is pretending to be English in this film, while Craig has to supress his natural English accent to play an American. I love his version of Bond, and have enjoyed him in other films he's been in since (like Knives Out and Logan Lucky), but he's so one-dimensionally portrayed here, it's criminal. They try to establish that there's some history between his character Alex and Jolie's Lara, and even some romance, but there's nothing there. Other than a juvenile first exchange between the two, there's no real evidence that they even know each other. It's to the point that her "affection" for him at the end of the film just doesn't seem earned. Maybe I'm overthinking and critiquing a movie that doesn't deserve it, but I do feel like this could have been a real fun adventure movie and instead is just a hot mess. With that said, if you're already a fan of these movies, you'll need to pick up the 4K UHD remastered versions. However, if you've never seen these movies but are a Tomb Raider game fan, check out the 2018 reboot instead.
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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