"...a video game turned into a movie-a trained chimp could create after eating a gross of bananas"

Those Who Like This Sort of Thing May Like It

(070601) First off, I've never played the game and have no interest in doing so. Video games have never done anything for me up to now and I don't believe they will in the remainder of my life. A friend who does play the game is avoiding the film but I would imagine that the big opening weekend Raider had consisted of most of the gamers and a few of the uninitiated. The drop off in attendance is more than likely due to the game fans spreading the word that the game is destroyed due to the filmmakers changing things because they could. Now by not playing the game I enjoyed it but realized early on that it was big and stupid so I shut my brain off until it was over.

The opening sequence is indicative of the film's flaws. We meet Lara upside down inside a tomb where she attempts a retrieval of some artifact. This artifact is guarded by a giant killer robot that finds her trying to remove the item offensive so it tries to stop her by dismembering her. Of course the robot fails because if it didn't what would the rest of the movie be? Problem is, after she defeats the robot we learn that the whole deal is a test, a Danger Room thingy, she was never really in danger. The opening is a story device to get us into the film running, a cheat.

The villains of the piece are those all purpose bad guys, the Illuminati. You remember them, don't you? They're behind all the worlds' evils. The assemblage has hired Iain Glen to obtain a divided triangle that once reunited will allow them to control time. In true movie hyperbole this has to be done when the planets align something that happens once every 5,000 years. Going back to the Illuminati hiring Glen this portion of the film is contradicted later when Lara visits their meeting room and Glen is revealed as a member, not an independent contractor.

The main flaw of Raider is the number of screenwriters who worked on the film. The credits reveal that the story is by Sara Cooper and the team of Mike Werb and Michael Colleary. Director Simon West rewrote what they wrote and then Patrick Massett and John Zinman turned that into a screenplay. That's six people hired to turn a video game into a movie something a trained chimp could do after eating a gross of bananas. Now those six are the only ones credited because actually five other writers worked on the film as well and they couldn't translate the game into three dimensions either. When you involve this many screenwriters in a project it can't help but be unfocused and in Raider it's seriously blurry at times.

The other thing about the film is the rumors that accompanied it. The first cut was supposedly shown to Paramount and the studio hated it so much they brought in editor Stuart Baird to re-cut it. This rumor proved to be true during the closing credits where he is listed as a co-producer. The other rumor is that the film score by Michael Kamen was so bad they tossed it out and had Graeme Revill come up with another one two weeks before the film's opening. His score is so lame and derivative of things he has done before so this also must be true.

Tomb Raider is best enjoyed if you come into the theater not expecting to do any heavy lifting. Just get your overpriced snacks, get comfortable and let the film wash over you without considering the plot. The action sequences are well staged and Simon West never tries to dazzle us with camera moves. Jolie's Croft fills the outfit rather well (although her breasts seem to grow and shrink depending on the scene) and seems to be capable of all that is thrown at her. Jon Voight isn't really acting here because he is her father but he lends certain gravity to the proceedings. Iain Glen is a capable villain and Noah Taylor is the best part of the film playing Lara's tech wizard. *** Stars for the end result, ** stars for the script and choppy editing job. I wonder if Paramount will let West get near the DVD version because I'd love to hear what he and any of the writers have to say about this film.

Directed by:    Simon West
Written by:    Screenplay by Sara B. Cooper, Mike Werb, Mike
 Colleary and Simon West. Based on the video
 game of the same name
Starring:    Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Daniel Craig
Released:    06/15/01 (USA)
Length:    100 minutes
Rating:    Rated PG-13 for action violence and some

LAURA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER   2001 Paramount Pictures.
All Rights Reserved.

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