Lara Croft: Tomb Raider


Age Rating (UK/US): 12A/PG-13

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is the first live action Tomb Raider movie that starred Angelina Jolie as the iconic ideogame archeologist. After the recent announcement of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s new Tomb Raider series being ordered by Amazon Prime, I wanted to give the original movies a revisit. As the movie is 20 years old and is well known in the Tomb Raider community, I have included spoilers in this review.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am a massive Tomb Raider fan on this blog, writing about my visits to Derby for TR26 and TR27, reviewing Jennifer Millward’s Tomb Raider Angel of Darkness and even doing a feature on the mainline games in the series and a Where Are They Now post for this very movie and the movie was a massive part of my childhood. However I have tried to review it with fresh eyes and can admit parts of the movie aren’t quite as great as I remember as a little kid.

First of all a plot summary: Lara Croft embarks on a globe-trotting journey to recover the two halves of the Triangle of Light, a mystical artifact that allows the possessor to control time. The artifact was a lifelong quest for her father who disappeared in the field, presumed dead, when Lara was a child. Meanwhile, hot on her tail is the Illumanti, a secret society who know they must reunite the two halves to fulfil an ancient prophecy or wait another 5000 years for the next planetary alignment and their next opportunity. From Cambodia to Siberia, will Lara reunite the two halves in time and stop the Illuminati and their schemes?

I think the first thing to mention is the choice of casting for Lara as it is pretty much universally acknowledged that Angelina Jolie was an inspired choice for Lara. Indeed she has left such a big mark on the character’s identity and public perception that any actress who follows suit in the new series will have huge boots to fill (so far we have only seen Alicia Vikander play the plot on-screen and whilst I personally did like her portrayal on its own merits, to me it did pale in comparison to Angelina).

Angelina was simply born to play this part and to see the movie that turned her into the A-list movie star is definitely worth a watch and definitely elevates this movie as she was a born action movie star.

The supporting characters in the movie are also overall well acted and the movie has a lot of very talented actors. Jon Voight who is Angelina’s real-life father plays her dad in the movie and their relaitonship does come across on screena and makes a really great dynamic. Iain Glen is also great as the villain, although plays the part a bit more campy rather than genuinely menacing and the movie also has a pre-James Bond Daniel Craig as Alex West, a rival of Lara’s who has a fun rapport and chemistry with Angelina throughout the movie.

The action sequences in the movie when they do come are also very engaging to watch – in particular the bungee ballet home invasion on Croft Manor and the Tomb of the Dancing Light sequences are my favourite parts of the movie. The bungee ballet scene in particular being a stunt that hasn’t really been seen in many other movies to my knowledge (plus it also tips the hat to the Tomb Raider 2 home invastion level in the game). Meanwhile the statues coming alive in the Tomb of the Dancing Light are menacing and again a nice call back to Tomb Raider 3 for fans who remember the Shiva statues coming to life in India and knowing from the DVD special features as a child (as I definitely geeked out out on this movie l Angelina did a lot of her own stunts in both of these sequences).

Admittedly, some of the CGI used in the hasn’t aged too great when compared to modern movies, like most CGI used in live-action moves in the early 2000’s but it does have a nostalgic charm to it which I loved.

I think sadly the main weaknesses in the movie is when the action stops as there are definite lulls where there are various scenes of dialogue and exposition which is to be honest, a bit boring to get through – especially between the opening sequence and the bungee ballet sequence where there is a good 20-30 mins of Lara going here to talk to this character, Lara going to talk to this character. It also takes the movie 45 minutes to get into the first actual tomb in the movie (a part from a playful opening scene which isn’t quite what it seems) which seems far too long for a movie of this genre to take to get to any actual Tomb Raiding.

There are also a few plot contrivances in the movie, especially when Lara receives a letter from her dad after the home invasion which leads her to her next clue, which is in a book she happens to have had in her dad’s library which assumingly she hasn’t been in as it’s covered in sheets. It just seems strange considering he went missing when she was a child that 15 years later she would still have kept these things and even the letter would have got through to her – also it isn’t explained who actually told the executors to send Lara the letter, they just turn up (with a UPS product placement) to give her the letter – although the scene does have my favourite meme as she explains the carnage of the manor to the driver.

Lara also meets two little girls throughout the movie who say something or gesture to her where she needs to go or warn herand then disappear. I’m not sure if the movie was trying to make these little girls Lara’s internal monologue or trying to do something artsy but it is a tad cheesy in a 90s action movie kind of way.

There is also a shot where I realised as the villain’s break into the tomb the camera pans to a villager who seems to smile on camera as if he is important but then we never see again and has no impact on the story although these are more minor things that I noticed on this watch but if you don’t think too much and just go with it then it is ok.

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