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Despite Jolie, 'Tomb Raider' another bad video-game movie

June 21, 2001
By Franklin Harris

If not for Angelina Jolie's presence, "Tomb Raider" would be just another bad movie based on a popular video game. Thanks to her star power, it'll be a summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, partly in spite of her and partly because of her, it's still a bad movie.

Jolie stars as Lara Croft, the part-James Bond, part-Indiana Jones and all-woman heroine of the Tomb Raider computer games.

Why see the movie when you already have the poster?
Why see the movie when you already have the poster?
Lara descends from British aristocracy, but she's anything but a lady, much to the consternation of her proper English butler, played by Chris Barrie ("Red Dwarf").

Instead of attending tea parties, she jets around the globe in search of rare, priceless and often mystical artifacts.

The artifact in question here is a 5,000-year-old triangle that can control the passage of time.

Following clues left by her late father (played by Jolie's real-life father Jon Voight), Lara seeks to find the two halves of the triangle and destroy them before a mysterious society called the Illuminati can locate them and use them to take over the world.

The Illuminati, meanwhile, have their own deadline. If they don't find the triangle and perform a mystical rite at the exact moment of a planetary alignment, they'll have to wait another 5,000 years to try again.

Pretty smart guys these Illuminati. They've been waiting five millennia for an alignment that includes planets discovered as recently as 1930.

Rounding out the cast is Ian Glen as the Illuminati's cardboard-cutout henchman, Daniel Craig as Lara's roguish rival and Noah Taylor as Lara's computer-geek sidekick.

Most of the blame for the film's failings falls on director Simon West, whose previous films include "The General's Daughter" and "Con Air." Instead of a movie, he gives us a music video, filled with jarring jump cuts and cheesy slow-motion shots.

The action sequences are too few, leading to long periods when you can reflect on just how silly the plot is. And when they do arrive, they are lackluster by today's standards.

Jolie, meanwhile, rises above the script but still never manages to convince us that she is an aristocrat, if a rebellious one.

Her Lara has a little too much of her own wild-child personality and not enough of the video game Lara's 007-style cool.

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