Many Indiana Jones fans are aware
of the link between Lara Croft and Indiana Jones.
It is a fact that the video game series Tomb
Raider was inspired by Indiana Jones (and
if you want to know more, just read my Tomb
Raiders essay on this site about that very
topic). The series' immense popularity and very
tangible subject matter seemed destined to become
a big screen adventure. Heck, they made a movie
out of Super Mario Brothers!
as Lara Croft.
answered the call when they purchased the rights
from the makers at Eidos
to great press coverage and fanfare. At that point,
everyone was excited, including some Indiana Jones
fans. The equation looked promising. A game inspired
by Indiana Jones had been bought by the studio
responsible for Indiana Jones! What a perfect
match! Right? Wrong!
The events that followed have become
infamous. Simon West, the director of Con-Air
signed onto the project amid great trepidation
from Lara fans. For a long period of time, there
had still been no word on the casting of Lara
herself. The expected release date of 1999 came
and went like sand in the desert. Then, a young
actress named Angelina Jolie won an Oscar and,
sadly, expressed interest in the Tomb
Raider project. Of course, Paramount
scooped her up, even if she wasn't right for the
planets their alignment.
The result? The most over-hyped,
poorly written adventure story in years. It's
competitor that summer, The
Mummy Returns, which was no treat itself,
looked like a work of art by comparison. Instead
of attacking the project from the notion that
Lara Croft was inspired by Indiana Jones, the
filmmakers decided that the film should go from
the idea that Lara is a modern day James
Bond meets The
Matrix. As a result, Jolie sported an all-black
paramilitary/Goth getup with a belt-buckle engraved
with a skull on it, that scarily enough was almost
identical to the ones worn by the Nazi S.S. officers.
The plot? Well, if one is brave
enough to look long and hard, the result will
be the following. Lara Croft, orphaned at a young
age, but rich in her massive inheritance from
her father, who was a British lord, scours the
world for "things ancient and mythological".
So far so good, but that's as far as the goodness
Guided by a dream, Lara finds an
ancient clock among her father's possessions.
It has suddenly started ticking. Simultaneously,
all nine planets have started to align in the
cosmos. She learns that the clock is counting
down to the moment of total alignment. Also amongst
her father's possessions, she finds notes that
indicate the existence of an ancient stone "triangle"
that can control time if both halves are found
and reunited precisely at the moment of total
alignment. Lara knows she must find the halves
of the triangle before the evil society called
"The Illuminati" do instead. The race
The film is really just an action
showcase with bad CG and obvious wirework. Jolie's
Lara Croft is unlike the game character, cold
and rebellious. The plot holes are too numerous
to count. Lara's father's notes tell her to go
to Cambodia to find the first half of the triangle.
OK. So how did the Illuminati know that as well?
How does Lara know the secret of the clock? How
does anybody know the location of the second half?
Who is that phantom girl who leads Lara to the
temple in Cambodia? And finally, if Lara's father
knew all of this stuff in the first place, why
didn't he prevent it by destroying the mechanisms
of the temple when he was alive?
This film takes little inspiration
from Indiana Jones. Sure, there is a central artifact,
the "triangle", but its origins and
powers go unexplained throughout the whole film.
The characters never earn their way through the
story either. Indy had to use the map room to
find the Ark, his father had to do extensive research
to find the Grail, and he had to interpret those
clues. Lara just randomly finds the clock in her
house and suddenly she knows where everything
is on the globe. At the climax, she randomly knows
how to operate the "machine" and save
the world. This film has no merit on all fronts.
Inside the temple.
The only sequence that even skirts
the borders of being decent is the scene in which
Lara discovers the puzzle of "the eye"
in the Cambodian temple. This is the only Indy-like
moment in the film. The scene degenerates into
a melee of actors shooting at CG statues, where
the Indiana Jones homage is played out, in which
a stone monkey waves his sword at Lara, who calmly
and callously pulls her gun and shoots it, muck
like the swordsman in Raiders
of the Lost Ark.
Aside from that brief moment, this
film does no justice to Indiana Jones and little
if any justice to the original video game Tomb