Tomb Raider: why?

Is the film of the computer game 'truly awful' or full of 'sundry delights'? Two filmgoers battle it out.

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Is the film of the computer game ‘truly awful’ or full of ‘sundry delights’? Two filmgoers battle it out.

Magnus Langton: ‘An insult to good cinema’

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is so truly awful that it’s hard to know how to start this review. There’s the acting, all of which is poor; the script, which tortures its audience; the screenplay, an insult to good cinema…. Shall I go on?

Luckily, Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft is not trusted with long sections of dialogue – she is obviously incapable of delivering anything more than a four-word sentence. And she fails to be convincing as an action hero, despite the much-hyped months of personal training she received. Add to that her vapid, disinterested air and you have a totally forgettable performance.

Other characters are introduced, but not developed. There is a story, I think, but it is driven by inexplicable plot developments. The grand finale is so boring that even the villain has to call Lara Croft back for one final showdown after the film is effectively over, as if to say, ‘There must be more than this’. You’d think. But the fight scene that he calls her back to just zaps the energy from the entire piece.

This should have been a dream project: a Hollywood budget, and a strong and already famous central character (courtesy of the computer game). Yet we end up with shoddy cinema, where money that should have been invested in the screenplay and direction is instead spent on special effects.

Back in your tomb, Tomb Raider.

Sandy Starr: ‘Plot isn’t the point’

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is an enjoyable piece of action spectacle. The computer game heroine bounces effortlessly through a series of action set pieces that are a treat to watch.

Of course the plot is pure rubbish – a secret society wants to unite two pieces of an artefact that will give them the power to control time. But plot isn’t the point here. Just as you don’t fault the Tomb Raider computer games for their narrative premise, neither should you care much whether the film makes any sense. This isn’t Citizen Kane, it’s a series of action/puzzle sequences enacted by an idealised woman and linked by a threadbare plot. Get over it.

The puzzle sequences are particularly enjoyable. In the computer game, the puzzles have an inherent logic and it is you, the player, who guides Lara as she solves them. In the film, as a passive spectator, you simply sit back and watch her solve puzzles using some impenetrable logic of her own – which is also fun in its own way.

Lara doesn’t talk much in the film, which is a relief. As female action icon eye candy, the less she says the better. After all, apart from her little yelps whenever she gets hurt, the Lara of the computer games says hardly anything at all, leaving you to appreciate her acrobatics and gun-toting in the abstract. And the same goes for the movie.

Expectation is a prison when it comes to cinema. Anybody going to see Lara Croft Tomb Raider should expect nothing and enjoy the sundry delights on offer. Roll on Tomb Raider II.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider is on general release across the UK.

See the Tomb Raider website.

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