Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:38 - Released 6/15/01

Having never played Tomb Raider, I cannot comment on how faithful the feature film is to the video game. I can say that the film, directed by Con Air's Simon West, has the intelligence of your average video game, featuring lots of action, an unbelievable hero(ine), and very little plot. But it does boast some serious thrills, and Angelina Jolie is certainly more than adequate (read: overqualified) for the role. Jolie's supporting actress Oscar for last year's Girl, Interrupted has not exactly led her to bigger and better things (the next feature she appeared in was the appalling Gone In 60 Seconds), but every actor needs a big-money, multi-sequel-supporting, trademark action-adventure role, and I suppose for Angelina, it's busty adventurer Lara Croft. From the first scene (where she battles a robotic sentry whose imperviousness to bullets does not stop her from firing hundreds of them in its general direction), Jolie imbues Lara with the athleticism of a ninja, the marksmanship of a professional sniper, and the personality of a bowl of oranges.

Tomb raiding is apparently what Lara Croft does best (besides puckering), and that's what she's called on to do in this story written by Mike Werb and Michael Colleary, adapted for the screen by Patrick Massett, John Zinman, and director West. Having found a mystical key hidden years ago in her palatial mansion by her beloved deceased father (played by Jolie's real, non-deceased father, Jon Voight), Lara launches bustily and puckeringly into a race with rival raiders Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) and his assistant, Alex Marrs (Daniel Craig), who used to be her friend, to an ancient ruin in Cambodia. There they find hidden one half of the "triangle of light," a mysterious device which, when reassembled with its other half, can allow the bearer to control time.

With the respect for antiquity so common among action-movie anthropologists, they find and steal the silver-spray- painted-styrofoam-looking relic, taking time to thoroughly shoot up the place in the process. Doing so arouses the ire of some menacing stone statues which come to life (come to think of it, I would think this would be of much more interest to anthropologists than a little half-triangle), but they shoot them up, too, resulting in their escape and high-fives all around. Then begins the race to find the second half of the triangle and transport themselves back in time to the day before they signed on to this movie.

With definite resemblances to the Indiana Jones movies, Tomb Raider adds the now common element of computer-generated effects, resulting in some truly amazing spectacles (of which the aforementioned battle with the statues is one). But during the scenes when the pixels aren't flying, there isn't all that much to recommend. Jolie, who not only compensates for her strangely boyish lack of hips with huge gazongas attached to her chest (are those implants or is this just a push-up job?), but makes up for her character's lack of personality with firepower and gymnastic agility, seems to be almost straining against her proven acting talent to render her computer-born character as two-dimensional as the original. When Lara's not running around the walls in her PJs, suspended from a bungee cord and firing her dual automatic weapons at her many foes, she's not doing much of anything interesting. Her co-stars are similarly flat, with the possible exception of Voigt, who gives a modicum of depth to his few minutes of screen time.

Frankly, if you're the type of person who likes to sit in front of a screen and manipulate your joystick, you'll probably like this movie. Otherwise, beware. ***½

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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