A live action version of the highly successful Eidos' interactive video game, starring cyber-explorer Lara Croft. Lara Croft (Jolie) is a sexy publishing magnate who travels to exotic locations to uncover & preserve ancient artifacts.
Angelina Jolie is the first and best reason to watch Lara Croft Tomb Raider
. She gives an extraordinarily committed, physically demanding performance, taking on the mantle of the video game heroine with real conviction and energy, and becoming the embodiment of every teenage boy's wish-fulfilment fantasy female. She's tough, sexy and tomboyish all at the same time, and even has a plummy English accent to give her a touch of class. It's a shame that the movie doesn't live up to Jolie's high standards. A soulless juggernaut of computer-generated effects and one-dimensional characters, the film falls into the same trap that has ensnared every other video game adaptation before it. The convoluted plot--which is concerned with a mysterious planetary alignment, a quasi-Masonic secret society known as the Illuminati and a mcguffin called the Triangle of Light--takes itself far too seriously. Oddly for a film with such a pedigree, the only humour is to be found in the endless repetition by Jolie of the word "bugger", which presumably is hilariously funny to American audiences. Director Simon West, an alumnus of the Brookheimer-Simpson school of filmmaking, choreographs the action sequences spectacularly enough, and their impact is boosted hugely by Jolie's ability to perform almost all the stunt work herself. But the end result is an empty experience that leaves the viewer with the feeling that this much-loved character and this dedicated actress could have been better served.
On the DVD: Eschewing the need for a second disc, this DVD still has plenty of additional material to keep fans happy. There's no single making-of documentary, but rather a series of shorter pieces on specific aspects of the production--the original game, the transition to the big screen, the special effects, the stunt work and the rigorous training endured by Jolie (apparently she got so good she could do the stunts better than any of the stunt doubles). There's also U2's "Elevation" video, some deleted scenes, DVD-ROM features and a chatty commentary from director Simon West. The widescreen picture and thumping surround soundtrack are impressive. --Mark Walker