A review of  Lara Croft - Tomb Raider” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: PG-13 for intense video game violence

Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

 

I’ve never played the video game, but the poster has been hanging on my refrigerator for two months.  High expectations?  You betcha?  I want to be Lara Croft, the most kick-ass girl since Linda Hamilton pumped iron and heavy artillery in “Terminator 2”.

Repeat the movie’s mantra after me - “it’s a video game, it’s a video game, it’s a video game”.  Based on a wildly popular cyber-game that has sold millions, the plot is a hokey exercise in what thrills the adolescent arcade rats.  Two halves of a triangle, hidden amongst the ruins of exotic, theatrical locales including faux Cambodia and Antarctica.  Once matched, the triangle as a whole unlocks the secret of light, and provides the user the power to control time. 

Lara Croft, bitchen babe, to the rescue. (Angelina Jolie in the year’s best piece of casting).  Acting on her deceased father’s instructions (played in flashback by Jolie’s real-life dad Jon Voight), Lara attempts to prevent the Secret Society of the Luminati from forming the sacred triangle,  thus saving the world from devastation and racking up another frenzied round on the vid-screen. 

Croft is the epitome of cool – a kickboxing, pistol-whipping English rose with a playmate body and a skintight wardrobe to match. A balletic, bungee-cording workout in Croft’s castle foyer is in itself worth the price of admission.  From scene to scene, ludicrous scenario to ridiculous set-up, this glorious, archeologist cum adrenaline-junkie bests even the most vicious opponents.

Jolie is the only reason this movie works.  Her uber-cool demeanor and witty bon mots (the result of eleven, count ‘em eleven, screenwriters) are the perfect accompaniment to her assertive purpose and uncompromising defense skills. Her wicked, confident delivery transcends the weak material, and her lesser known (and less talented) co-stars. The fact that Jolie performed the bulk of the stuntwork herself lends the film a gritty reality that’s missing in the script and the over-the-top production design. Neither man nor machine can match Croft’s cool under pressure or her devotion to her art.  A climactic mano a mano battle sequence says it all.  Lara Croft rules.