Ossus Library Index Fantasy Movie Index

TOMB RAIDER

Directed by Simon West (2001, Paramount Pictures)
Starring Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig, Iain Glen, and Jon Voight

Lara Croft tries to obtain the ancient time-controlling triangles before an ill-intentioned society finds them.

View count: Twice

 

 

2 stars

March 25th, 2004 on TV

 
    I found myself less interested in the movie this time around. While I was disappointed by the second half when I saw the movie for the first time, I got bored much more quickly upon second viewing. I still enjoyed the characters, but, like Pandora's Box in the sequel, I can't figure out Lara's motivations. She doesn't seem to care one way or the other. She goes after the triangle because of her father, who should have left instructions not to destroy the thing, but simply to prevent the Illuminati from obtaining it. That way, the movie would have ended in Cambodia.

Speaking of Cambodia... at the beginning, we are told that the two parts of the triangle were spirited away to opposite ends of the Earth. While Cambodia and Siberia might seem to fit that description, it differs with the "spirited away" part -shouldn't it have been located far from the ancient city, like the other one? Doesn't it ruin the purpose of hiding the pieces if one of them is within the machine that uses it?

I found myself enjoying Lara's meditation on the bungee cords once again, and I liked the way she was actually overmatched by the assault team, though she put up a great fight.

Other than that, I can't see anything in this viewing that I didn't mention in the last review. I was a decent film, but not worth seeing a third time.

 

 

3 stars

September 22nd, 2001 in the Theatre

 
    An enjoyable action flick, which turns into a convoluted and confusing mystics show halfway through. The choreography was the best part about this movie. Lara's motivations and the end result are suspect, though.

After seeing the first half of this show, I thought I was going to be giving out full marks. But then it fizzled. The action and antics of the main character were dazzling, so much that it reminded me of much of The Mummy Returns. I loved it. Lara battles a robot in her practice room (I was wondering what a robot was doing in an ancient tomb, and was rewarded with it being only a simulation). She exchanges very funny remarks with her technical assistant and her butler. She destroys part of a stairway in her mansion (what a house!) looking for a ticking that awakened her in the middle of the night. When the bad guys appear, she has no problems shooting up her own house, or cars, to get rid of them. And when they escape, she enters the tomb ahead of them to claim the triangles of the light in a terrific action sequence.

But after that, I really didn't enjoy much of the film.

The ticking turns out to be a clock. Lara is the no nonsense girl who takes a hammer to the clock to find out what's inside it, instead of taking it apart screw by screw. Her butler is always trying to get her to wear a dress, but she laughs at him for it. She takes the clock to a dealer, who she knows immediately is lying. There is something special about this eye-within-a-triangle, and he knows what it is. He won't tell her, because he wants it all to himself. So he sends in a team to steal it. I think he knew what he was up against, because he sent in such a large team. It was only through sheer numbers that he was able to overwhelm Lara. If it had been any smaller, she would have routed them and saved the clock. 

For the clock is a key, which unlocks the triangle of time, a device that allows the user to control time. It is never made clear exactly what the user could do, but Lara's father left her explicit instructions to find it and destroy it. One half of the triangle was stored in a temple in Cambodia, the other in Siberia. She heads out to Cambodia to recover the clock and the triangle, and figures out the puzzles that allow access to what they want. The bad guys are part of a secret society who want to be gods. When Lara finally grabs the triangle, which was hidden in time as well as space, a huge battle ensues, between the thieves, Lara, and the rock guardians of the ancient palace (was this a tomb?). 

Angelina Jolie was a perfect choice for depicting this character. She takes no prisoners. She fights aggressively, with all the skill and technique of every fighter in the known world. She is tough as nails. And she is beautiful. I am no fan of big boobs, so I could have done without the extra-padded bras that she wore, which I think hindered her more than anything else. As I mentioned about Guri in the Star Wars graphic novel Shadows of the Empire Evolution, her large breasts would hinder her sneaking around corners, flattening against a wall, and especially in running, where she was bouncing up and down so much that I'm sure it took twice as much energy as it should have. (Although the scene of her bare back after getting out of the shower was great... -ah, well...)

With a flick of an eyebrow, or especially a sideways glance moving just her eyeballs, or barely sticking out her tongue, she was able to convey exactly what she was thinking, without uttering a word. That's the sign of a good actor. She was able to express delight, such as at the very end when her techno-wizard announces that the robot has been repaired. And she can express deep sorrow and defeat.

For Lara has a fatal flaw, without which the movie could have ended at the point I have just described in the tomb. She doesn't know what happened to her father, and wants to meet up with him again, if only for a minute. 

So when the bad guy offers to work together with her, to find the second triangle, she accepts. She has to know the truth, because he claimed that her father was part of the secret organization, and he offers to bring the man back to life for her.  So they travel to Russia, where Lara finds the second triangle. The defences at this second location are nowhere near as complex or as neat as the stone warriors in Cambodia. 

The whole movie from the moment that Lara gives in is a complete mess, though there are still a couple of neat action scenes. The leader of the Illuminati puts the triangle together, but it will not stay together. The second in command, Lara's arch nemesis, kills him without a second thought (question: why did he not kill the man earlier, much earlier -and wouldn't it have been better if putting the triangle together killed the person, then somebody else would have to take charge?). He can't put the triangle together, either, until Lara takes something out of the clock (which she suspends in a time storm) and places it into the eye in the center. Then they race up an imaginary pyramid, and Lara gets to the completed triangle first. She travels to meet with her father, and asks him why he never told her about his involvement with the Illuminati. He tells her that they cannot change the past, and she leaves. Huh? She wasted her opportunity on this? She goes forward in time and changes the past anyway, by changing the direction of a thrown knife from her (ex?) lover (who was killed just before the triangle was put together) to the attacker, her nemesis.  It was about as messed up as this description!

Can we change time or not? Next Lara and her enemy lay down their guns to fight hand to hand. What does that serve? The fight was not so well done that it was necessary, and it doesn't make sense. And if Lara could destroy the triangle with a single bullet shot, why didn't the ancients destroy it 5000 years ago? If they were afraid to, okay, but why didn't Lara destroy it before they got into this mess? Risk the world for her father? Okay, I can believe that too. But instead of rescuing her father from the past, she rescues a man whom she may or may not love? 

It's best not to dwell on the second half of the movie. Lara comes to grips with her father's death, finally, and I guess that's what matters. Don't mothers ever do anything significant? Why couldn't Lara be following in her mother's footsteps?

There was not much I liked about the second half of the movie. But the first half was energetic, beautiful and beautifully paced, and it really showed Lara as an extraordinary fighter. I wonder why the stone creatures were so easily destroyed, though. Were they not supposed to protect the triangle? Then why did they come to life so late, and why could they be destroyed by a fist (ouch!) as easily as with a machine gun? Lara's meditation exercises were great on the bungee cords. I loved the way she bounced around the room, and how she used it to her advantage during the fight, especially hiding in the corner like Spiderman. Her butler was so funny, in the way he became serious, grabbed a rifle, flak jacket, put his slippers on, and the rest, and acted so "professional", only to arrive so late in the fighting because of all his preparation. 

There were a lot of funny lines in the first half, too, not the least being "I finally found my car keys!" when a machine gun spills them all over the floor. 

The astronomy was terrible here, as expected. As soon as I heard the words planetary alignment, I groaned. I hate planetary alignments, because people always think they are significant in some way, while is no way they could affect anything, and I don't think 5000 years is such a good estimate for such an alignment. Nobody did any research, here. But when I saw Lara's telescope in the middle of a brightly lit room, I laughed, because she wouldn't be able to see anything with that! The alignment was cool to see, if inaccurate. And I think the moon was on the wrong side during that last view. I could be mistaken, but I thought I saw it on the side of the planets, with Earth in the background, when it should have been eclipsing the Sun. And speaking of the eclipse, there is no way we could see the crescent moon just before an eclipse. Check out the Bad Astronomy review (see my Links page) for more on this stuff, too. He has much the same complaints, and more. 

Ah, well. For a movie based on a video game, I guess you have to accept the bad with the good. If they had kept the story along the lines of the first half, I would have been extremely happy. But the ending was confusing, poorly scripted, and just a plain mess, overall. I went to see this as a double feature with Final Fantasy. I was expecting to enjoy Tomb Raider and get the other one for free, but I enjoyed the other one better! Still, I have to give high marks to this film, because of the great action at the beginning, and of the cool character of Lara Croft. But where are the tombs that she raids? We saw one tomb here (I don't think the Russian thing was a tomb, and the opening scene was in a practice room). I hear there are sequels, so maybe we'll see tombs in that one...

 
   

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