Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (2001) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's comments in white:

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) is based on a popular video game, and stars Angelina Jolie in the title role. It is being released on DVD next Tuesday, and I predict that it will slowly climb from its current 5.5/10 rating at  IMDB. I don't know what people expected from a video game to film adaptation, but this is the best to date, mostly because of Angelina Jolie. 

Not only can she act, but she endured 4 months of vigorous preparation for the role, including physical training, kick boxing/street fighting,  firearms training, and bungee ballet. Jolie says she started the training in terrible shape, but got into it well enough that she did the vast majority of her own stunt work. Don't worry about the plot -- that isn't the point of this film. It is Indiana Jones meets James Bond, and is all about action.

Scoop's comments in yellow:

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way. 

Sure the plot is dumb. It's based on a video game, for heaven's sake. If you expected Cries and Whispers, you were deluded. These fantasy movies are always dumb. Go back and review the plot of Raiders of the Lost Ark and tell me that sucker followed all of Aristotle's Unities! The plot of Tomb Raiders involves a bunch of Illuminati who want to find the sacred Full Rizzuto, which will enable them to re-unite the separated pieces of the Holy Cow, and win mastery of all time, as written in the sacred Ish of ancient Kabbible. This is an opportunity that only occurs every 5,000 years, so you have to act fast before the Cosmic Offer expires, and the Dominance of Time returns to its regular price. The illuminati are a bunch of old white guys who plan to use the dominance of time for evil purposes involving a rising stock market, cognac, safaris, corporate golf outings, Republican fund raisers, and other stuff that evil old white guys like.

Angelina Jolie has to prevent the Evil Old White Guys from gaining their dominance of time, so she has to find the pieces of the Holy Cow before they can assemble the Full Rizzuto

You get the picture. This is the exact same plot set-up as about 500 other movies. OK, it is dumb, point granted. 

And a lot of the dialogue and detail do in fact come from those old grade-b movies from the 30's and 40's, in which somebody like Basil Rathbone tried to obtain the Full Rizzuto and somebody like Buster Crabbe tried to stop him.


Jolie shows most of one breast during the opening credits while getting dressed. The camera is behind her, so no nipple is visible.  

Sorry, nothing in the deleted scenes

Now can we get past all that and say that the movie is entertaining? It is filled with outlandish stunts, exotic locales, wild action, and ironic comments. It's essentially a James Bond movie with an Indiana Jones backdrop, as Tuna pointed out. The action scenes are perhaps the most skillfully edited scenes of their type, the visuals are completely spectacular from start to finish. The only place where they kinda screwed up is by not following the Scoopy Jr. rule, which states that all James Bond movies have certain common elements and are pretty much the same, but what distinguishes a good Bond from a bad Bond, besides the absence of Roger Moore, is how memorable the bad guy is. Perhaps Tomb Raider doesn't really spend enough time on the human element, on developing the bad guys and the sidekicks, and spends too much time on the technical side. But I didn't think it was wildly out of balance in that regard, and I enjoyed the film.

Is the film as good as the very best action-adventure-fantasy films, like Raiders, or The Empire Strikes Back, or X-men, or Blade Runner? I don't know. I guess probably not.

But it is better than the next tier of popcorn epics. Think of it this way. IMDb viewers rate Return of the Jedi 8.0 (I suppose this is the most overrated film at IMDb), Phantom Menace 7.0, The World is Not Enough 6.5, and the first Mission Impossible 6.4. Tomb Raider is better than any of them, and better than either of those Mummy movies. Bigger, badder, more spectacular, more fun. The 85% bad reviews and the low IMDb ratings mystify me, although the guys we always cite (Ebert and Berardinelli) each liked it, and gave it three stars.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1

  • Full-length director commentary

  • 4 deleted scenes

  • several documentaries and featurettes

The filmmakers must have been astounded by the poor critical reception, because they must have thought they had another Raiders on their hands. Ignore those other critics. If you like this type of movie, this is a lot of dumb fun, and in terms of sheer visual dazzle, one of the most impressive movies I've ever seen. I suppose I wasn't the only one that was impressed. It did gross $131 million at the US box office.

Director Simon West's next project is a theatrical version of the legendary avant-garde TV series, The Prisoner, which is being produced by ol' Number Six himself, Patrick McGoohan.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Apollo 63, BBC 3/5.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.5, Apollo users 50/100 
  • With their dollars ... it grossed $131 million on a budget of $80 million, which made it fairly popular with theater owners, but not yet a winner for the studio. Counting overseas, broadcast, video sales and rentals, the film will make money for everyone.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Good genre flick.

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