|Angelina Jolie||Lara Croft|
|Iain Glen||Manfred Powell|
|Jon Voight||Lord Richard Croft|
|Directed by||Simon West|
In the great tradition of such classics as Mortal Kombat, Super Mario Brothers, and Wing Commander comes Tomb Raider, the latest entry in the videogame-to-movie sweepstakes. And to give credit where credit is due, this one makes the transition with flair and invention.
It?s a genre that has a built-in problem to overcome : video game addicts are used to doing, not just watching. Here they?ll have to rely on Lady Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie), the game?s heroine, to take care of the action for them. And they couldn?t have found a better substitute.
Jolie is tough, athletic, cocky, brilliant, sexy, and a little vulnerable. When I say vulnerable, I don?t mean all soft and girlie. But prick her, and does she not bleed ? Evoke the image of her dead father (played by her real father, Jon Voight), and does she not become misty-eyed ? Otherwise, she?s pretty invulnerable - she can swing through a withering hail of bullets with devil-may-care insouciance and never get a scratch.
But she?s tough on the set and the props. She?d rather go through a wall than open a door, and if she wants to take a clock apart she uses a hammer. At one point she reduces an ancient tomb to rubble, and when it turns out to be a private training facility in the basement of her manor house, one shudders at the thought of what the budget for her workouts must run per year. Figuring she does these training exercises at least once a month, and estimating repairs and construction of new tomb sets, with overtime, at about $5 million per, the only way it becomes cost effective is because she?s in the business of saving the world.
The video game?s producers insisted on star approval, and their other deal-breaker was a ban on nudity. So it was a pleasant surprise to come upon a shower scene early in the action, following which Ms. Jolie drops her towel in front of her butler (Chris Barrie), who primly reproves her, noting that ?A lady should be modest.? ?Yes,? she ripostes with saucy irony, ?a lady should be modest.? There is equal time for admirers of the other gender in a shower scene featuring one of the male leads (Daniel Craig), who plays an entire nude scene Peter Sellers-like, with the area between hip bone and mid-thigh cannily obscured by camera angles and furniture.
There is a plot, and it is constructed along the conventions of a video game, with the player facing challenges of increasing degrees of difficulty. The goal is to find the two severed halves of an icon called the Triangle of Light before the bad guys do. The bad guys are a secret society called the Illuminati that wants to, would you believe it, rule the world, which they will be able to do with this gizmo because it controls time. The catch is that the two halves are hidden in secret tombs in far corners of the globe, and they must be joined at the precise moment of the alignment of all the planets, which is happening in a couple of days and then not again for five thousand years. The Illuminati have set rival tomb raider Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) on the trail, and if you didn?t already know he was a bad guy your alarms would flash when he says patronizingly to Lara ?I hear you?re quite the little archaeologist yourself.? Tomb Raider borrows with good-natured liberality from a lot of very recognizable sources. At the head of the list is Raiders of the Lost Ark, with plenty of James Bond stirred (not shaken) in. There?s a cute riff on the Pink Panther movies, with an electronic Cato robot programmed for surprise attacks Lara. Tomb Raider stomped the competition over the weekend, raking in nearly 50 million at the box office, which lends a prescient quality to a line uttered by the chief Illuminatus : ?If one tomb raider is good, two tomb raiders will be even better.?
© Text 2002 Jonathan Richards - Filmfreak.be