Tomb Raider: The Movie
Mugwum saw the film the other week. Now he's out of rehab, here are his thoughts (includes spoilers)
Although obvious parallels exist between the Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones storylines, and the most recent videogames looked like mirror images of one another, comparing Tomb Raider: The Movie to any of the Indiana Jones films is like comparing a pennywhistle account of Happy Birthday to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. For Director Simon West, the "Con Air" approach failed. With said film, he managed to create a ridiculous melody of action, violence and comedy, despite giving a bucketful of action movie clichés a decent workout. With Tomb Raider, he has a script ten times worse and a cast of sub-standard actors with a lone spotlight on Angelina Jolie. Jon Voight makes a fleeting appearance as Lara's Dad, but his job seems to involve putting the events of previous scenes into perspective rather than actually fulfilling a role. Whoever wrote this script clearly doesn't know how to tell a story. That's the most obvious problem with Tomb Raider besides its awful casting. There's no real flow to it, and things are overcomplicated. For an example of how to make an overcomplicated plot work, go see The Mummy Returns. Despite its absurd scale and twisty turny plot, it's a spotless example of non-stop family fun, with a self-referential script and a deeply entertaining cast of players. In contrast, Tomb Raider's action sequences are punctuated by boring sections of plot, and the film takes itself all too seriously. Although that said, its action sequences are basically just a series of seemingly unconnected stills of Angelina Jolie posing. For instance, atop the motorbike with guns in both hands, somewhat carelessly, or beneath the robot thing, chest stuck menacingly in the air. For the best laugh though, check out the end sequence when she's bouncing out of the tomb. West evidently wanted people to walk away with something to remember. Rather disappointingly, West didn't even see fit to include multiple shower scenes of the voluptuous young actress. The kicker is that halfway through, you think "Yes, she's in the shower again, second time lucky!" only to discover the cretinous Alex parading his masculinity. What a cop out. As for the storyline, it concerns an predictable trinket called the Clock of Ages, which must be unearthed once every 5,000 years for a dreadful action film. It's Jolie's job to pout about it with various convenient bad guys and singularly fail to hit it off with any of them. Foiled again. Unfortunately this puts Tomb Raider in something of a Catch 22 rut. People who appreciate films will find it unchallenging, and gamers who actually played the games and didn't simply scour the Internet for the nude hack will be disenchanted by West's direction. The only group I can really imagine enjoying it will be Jolie followers and stalkers… There was much potential here, at least before Simon West was signed up to direct it, but not even he could have turned the abysmal plot into an enjoyable film. One such example of this lunacy is the way that, uncertain of Jolie's appeal, writers decided that both she and virtually every other member of the cast would refer to her character as a "Tomb Raider" for the entirety of the production. This simply does not work, and as Ain't It Cool News observed in their review of the film, at no point did Vader turn round to Luke and say, "Luke, you don't understand the power, when the EMPIRE STRIKES BACK!" At the end of the day, Tomb Raider was never going to deliver. We can plot its failure back to the appointment of West as director, the choice of unproven acting talent for key character roles, and the obvious focus on breasts rather than storyline. It's a shame that Paramount didn't realise the game's potential in other areas and chose the easy way out. Despite the ridiculous box office take, Tomb Raider is a triumph of nothing over everything.