Sometimes you just cant buy a thrill. Yeah, Im
pretty old, probably not the demographic the filmmakers
had in mind. Hell yeah, I watch way more movies than you
do. But LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER gets three stars anyway,
more than I really want to give it, because you truly
do need to see it on the big screen.
In their attempt to differentiate TOMB RAIDER-the-movie
from Tomb Raider-the-game, the writers felt compelled
to deliver at least a rudimentary storyline. This they
did, with secret organizations like the Illuminati and
lots of the mythological BS Im normally such a sucker
But the movie takes too long on backstory. It attempts
to set up the who and why of Lara Croft, yet skips over
stuff like why Lara is so reckless, the whos and whys
of her minions (the butler, channeling Bruce Waynes
Alfred, and a resident mad scientist-inventor, played
by Noah Taylor). Some of the characterization plays off
of Jolies much-publicized idiosyncrasiesher
sexual openness, her fondness for knives, etc. At any
rate, when its action, its all about its business;
but otherwise, LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER drags a bit.
The other night, I was knackered and went to bed early
and watched SINGIN IN THE RAIN. Somewhere, during
this, my nth viewing of this classic, I started clocking
how quickly the film moved from one musical number to
the next. As I sat in the theater watching LARA CROFT:
TOMB RAIDER I realized (okay, Im a little slow)
that action movies are beginning to resemble operas or
musicals. Plots are now the extremely thin mortar that
tides us over until the next aria, the next dance number,
or in this case, the next action set piece.
As I watched LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER I was struck by
how much more it had in common with Extreme Sports than
a movie. Perhaps this is in keeping with the spirit of
the computer game. I dont know; I never played it.
I suspect, though, that fans of the game may feel burdened
by the filmmakers flimsy attempt to gift-wrap this
package in a plot, and movie fans may find that sense-making
here is so much grasping at smoke.
Now sense-making and narrative arent the raison
detre here, and well do I know it. So lets
talk about the elephant in the roomJolies/Crofts
breasts. I have to give props to the wardrobe department
for some pretty amazing special effectsnamely, a
no-jiggle foundation garment that allowed Jolies
breasts to enter each scene several frames ahead of the
rest of her. It was only recently, when promotions for
this movie began, that I first beheld the original Lara
Croft, and I can now pronounce that fans of her assets
will not be disappointed by Ms. Jolies. Seeing this,
director West has taken care that shes posed in
many profile shots and looks-back over her shoulder. (I
also like to clock gratuitous washing: West gets Jolie
into the shower in nine minutes. Also, for the rest of
us, a protracted nude sequence for Crofts ultra-buff
romantic interest later in the movie.)
So what did I get out of TOMB RAIDER? Well, these musings.
Jon Voight is a real convincing upper-crusty, academic
Lord Croft. Lots of high-tech gadgetry and action here,
yet its still less exciting than, say RAIDERS OF
THE LOST ARK. And speaking of RAIDERS, one wonders how
many are seduced to the study of archaeology by movies,
which are so far from the meticulous, at-times tedious
reality of an actual dig...
And what was up with Lara Croft riding on the, uh, thrusting
phallic symbol that deflowered a jewel in a Buddha-like
statue to release a gush of water and light, and then
a viscous substance that brought statues to life?
Roxanne Bogucka, an Action Girl!