It’s been fifteen years since the release of the first Tomb Raider movie and thirteen years since we had any movie at all from the franchise. There have been, though, plenty of games in this time to keep our Lara Croft hunger at bay; including the 2013 reboot of the series.
Unfortunately the movie itself got a largely negative reception due to its generic set pieces and predictable plot. The saving grace was Angelina Jolie herself who received a lot of praise for her portrayal of the character. Having rewatched the movie recently it’s fair to say not much has changed over a decade and a half, except how old-fashioned and unrealistic the CGI now looks compared to more modern big-budget movies.
Jolie brings the character to life fantastically with a combination of cheeky one-liners, take-no-crap attitude and an array of tight tank tops associated with early incarnations of the character. Even without knowing the title of the movie, you would most certainly be able to tell the heroine on display from the opening heart-pounding sequence.
As was the case all those years ago, Jolie’s performance is the highlight and the story is the downfall. Much like the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie, the story is a unique one rather than one based on any previous game. It’s a fun movie non-the-less but admittedly there’s a plethora of plot holes. Lara’s Father arranged for a letter to be sent to his daughter at a specific time in the case of his death. This letter asks her to travel across the world in just fifteen hours to save it from utter chaos. Surely, then, he could have given her a smidge more notice. A week perhaps? A year even? He seemed to have everything else planned out methodically.
It’s enjoyable, watching the movie now, to see a young Daniel Craig play a large part too. He was only in the early stages of his career in 2001 but who doesn’t want to see James Bond and Lara Croft share the silver screen? It’s a match made in heaven and though he obviously isn’t that character here, probably never even dreamed of it, we can only imagine what an epic crossover that would be.
Though the plot is a let down the personality of the movie catches that of its video game counter-part perfectly. There’s plenty of action, a diabolical bad guy and a series of a supernatural events including giant fighting statues and a hint of time travel. Back in the first Tomb Raider game we were taking on impossible challenges with our duel pistols in the form of a T-Rex hidden deep within a cave and from there we’ve been through so much with our favourite tomb raider over the years.
The action sequences feel rather forced and though they’re great to see unfold it’s almost a case of the writers coming up with these fighting scenes first and then forcing them to fit the plot. Taking on a group of well-armed baddies while on an indoor bungie rope, for example. It’s a little daft and the amount of bullets this elite team miss on an unarmed target swinging from a rope is too far-fetched, even given the circumstances. On the flip to that though it does provide some amusing moments if you can just suspend your belief for a few minutes.
Amusing moments is another area where this movie hits all the right notes. It clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously, the games never did in truth. There are countless moments that’ll make you smirk – from Lara’s interaction with her butler to the sarcastic wit she’s constantly using on her foes. The way Angelina Jolie delivers these lines is what makes them so pleasant too with Lara’s classic combination of sex appeal and that devilish look in her eye.
Is this a classic movie? Unfortunately not. Is it most obviously a Tomb Raider movie? Yes it is. It’s an enjoyable, feet up, popcorn munching movie that, while it won’t appear on any “best movie” lists, if it’s on the television and you’re feeling particularly lazy you could do a lot worse.
As for the figures, it’s no wonder they decided to release a sequel so soon after the original. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider grossed over £220m overall with nearly 37% of that done in the opening weekend. It did cost a whopping £93m to make but that’s still not a bad profit especially in a time when video game adaptions were few and far between. The likes of the Resident Evil franchise and Prince of Persia would soon follow.
Overall it’s a movie fans will enjoy more just as a way to see Lara Croft come to life without a controller in their hands. As a standalone action movie is how critics looked at it which is probably why it fell on its face the way it did. Lara Croft in any form is an extremely popular woman amongst gamers, and Hollywood knew it, but we’re also a sentimental bunch with strong opinions. For that reason many fans will no doubt defend these kinds of adaptions but in their heart-of-hearts will admit though while it’s great to watch every few years for the nostalgia, it’s not a great stand-alone movie.