Gamestyle Archive intro: video game coverage also meant taking a regular look at the influx of big screen adaptations with mixed success. This one was the first of the Tomb Raider films and dates from June 2001. Writer JJ.
VERSION: Big Screen
PUBLISHER: Paramount Pictures
ACCESSORIES: Popcorn, Beer, and Girlfriend.
RELEASE: July 6th
Try to think of a decent film based on a video game. Still thinking? So am I. This is why I approached Lara Croft Tomb Raider with extreme caution whilst sitting down preparing myself for another turkey. Yet I was pleasantly surprised. Its not bad just plain awful.
The plot is simpler than a Resident Evil game and as there are no plot twists I won’t be spoiling anything by explaining most of it here. In fact you could probably predict everything within the first 10 minutes. No bad thing when you consider most of the stuff that Hollywood shoves down our throats these days, still we can walk out when we have had enough. However the power of marketing and the thought of Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft will get most males into the cinemas. It worked for me.
If you have the misfortune to play any of the series (except the first game) then you’ll know something about the phenomenon that is Miss Croft. The film introduces us to her mansion, which is suitably murky and traditional with the more technological rooms hidden away. The lack of character depth or development is shocking; this film is truly based on a video game character and no more. Only the baddies and her two sidekicks keep Lara interesting as they can be summed up in one word, nothing. A shame as it starts off quite atmospherically and 6 minutes in, we have a wonderful but criminally short shower scene. Truly a PG film all the way. Lara sleeps in bed with a knife – I’d never thought I be jealous of a metallic object but there’s always a first time for everything.
Right plot time. A planetary alignment is occurring and this provides the sinister cult/organisation (not sure which as we only see them once) known as the Luminate to complete the ancient legend that they believe in. An ancient civilisation that they are descended from once had the power of a god thanks to the Triangle of Light. Yet this power was abused resulting in their civilisation and whole city being destroyed. The triangle was deemed to powerful for man to possess and was split in two and hidden on either ends of the earth. Why not just destroy the thing completely? To make matters worse a special timepiece was created to help locate and open each hidden area where parts of the triangle were hidden. Now this is really taking the piss. Pass the popcorn doll.
Lara’s deceased father possessed the timepiece that she soon discovers in a secret room in her mansion. You’re not much of a Tomb Raider if a relic can be hidden away in your own home for a few years without you knowing! Upon its discovery and after receiving a letter from lawyers under instruction from her fathers will, Lara becomes involved. The timepiece soon becomes stolen from the mansion resulting in one of highlights for me. Lara bouncing up and down on a bungee rope, kicking intruder ass and looking amazingly sexy in her nightdress. Mark that scene down guys, 28 minutes in – then you have another 20 to kill before it gets interesting again.
Mr West is someone who Lara has a thing for yet he is an archaeologist of amazing stupidity. She constantly helps him along throughout the film with even offering the glimpse of a sex scene. The main baddie is Mr Powell who is into everything eastern and can be seen relaxing on his sofa in the middle of the jungle, I kid ye not. Not much competition for our heroine.
The first temple known as the Temple of Dancing Light is in Cambodia and is where the first piece of the triangle is hidden and easily found thanks to Lara helping out the baddies. Just why isn’t known – either stop them or join in and rule the world, women huh? Of course once the triangle is discovered everything comes to life except stone creatures aren’t much help against heavily armed guards. Even the guys at Core could have come up with better designs. Lara soon escapes with half of the triangle much to the baddies disgust well not really; they let her get away easily. Still the action is good and for a brief moment helps you forget how shite the film is.
For some unknown reason Lara teams up with the baddies to help find the final piece of the triangle (even handing over her piece of the relic in the process) located in the dead lands of the temple where the extinct civilisation once ruled. Pretty clever hiding one half of the most power object known to man in the temple where the pieces must be joined together. Fooled me. No need to tell you who wins in the end but stay put for a sidesplitting reunion with Lara’s deceased father. Thought the ending of Armageddon couldn’t be bettered? Think again.
Its saying something when you finish watching the film and know the video games offered more depth. There are some good moments in Tomb Raider mostly involving action scenes but these are too short and few in number. The tombs themselves offer little challenge, just pull down a statue and enter, no traps en route. Lara herself seems confused, helping the baddies one moment and them killing them the next. We should have seen this coming as even the director Simon West apparently tried to remove his name from the credits thanks to some excessive editing. It’s obvious that the script was frankly awful and a waste of good paper. At times the dialogue would make even Steven Segal cringe and the film has the depth of an eggcup.
The success of The Mummy has spawned such films as Tomb Raider. What most of these forget apart from the entertainment value is the humour, characters and special effects that paper over the cracks in the script. The only good thing about Tomb Raider apart from some excellent locations (that are under-exploited) is Angelina Jolie, oh and it’s not a 3-hour epic like Pearl Harbour. Lets hope Resident Evil is a little bit better.