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TheRaider.net Research Indy's Influences Legacy Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
 
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
 

Released by Paramount Pictures - 2001

Directed by: Simon West
Story by: Sara B. Cooper, Mike Werb & Michael Colleary
Screenplay by: Patrick Massett & John Zinman
Produced by: Jeremy Smith, Stuart Baird, Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin & Colin Wilson

Starring:
Angelina Jolie .... Lara Croft
Jon Voight .... Lord Croft
Iain Glen .... Manfred Powell
Noah Taylor .... Bryce
Daniel Craig .... Alex West

 

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!


Jolie as Lara Croft.

Paramount 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 role.


Lara looking at our
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 goes.

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 begins.


Adventurers join forces.

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 Raider. (MF)

 

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