With “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” opening July 25, some viewers will likely want to check out the original on VHS or DVD. But be forewarned: The original is a shard of common pottery, whereas the sequel is a gem.
The original, based on a popular video game featuring the buxom Lara Croft, features Angelina Jolie as Croft, a gadget-enabled adventurer who fears nothing. She’s an amalgam of Indiana Jones, James Bond and La Femme Nikita.
The “story” in “Tomb Raider”—the word “story” used loosely here—involves Croft’s mission to thwart a secret society intent on controlling time, which it can do if it locates a magical key in time for a rare planetary alignment.
Not that any of that matters. “Tomb Raider” is essentially a bunch of action sequences, some better than others, strung together. They are punctuated by flashbacks to Croft’s father, Lord Richard Croft (played by Jolie’s real father, Jon Voight).
The real problem of the movie, however, is the constant unmotivated, illogical “puzzling” that goes on. Croft walks into a strange room and immediately knows that gizmo A fits into contraption B to produce magical effect C. And A, B and C, by themselves, just aren’t that interesting. When put together, they’re still not that interesting.
The best sequence in the movie is the “bungee ballet.” This peculiar form of relaxation has Croft doing balletic exercises while strapped to large bungee cords in the great room of the Croft manor. If the whole movie were as slick and graceful as this sequence, “Tomb Raider” would be a rare find.
But it’s not. It’s a mediocre attempt to turn video-game popularity into box-office gold. The original did gross close to $300 million worldwide, so it sparked the movie franchise. But Croft fans don’t see real moviemaking until the sequel.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence and some sensuality
Director: Simon West
Writers: Patrick Massett and John Zinman
Cast: Lara Croft: Angelina Jolie; Lord Richard Croft: John Voight; Manfred Powell: Iain Glen; Bryce: Noah Taylor; Hillary: Chris Barrie.