Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The First Pick

While I am enjoying the sunny weather of  Dubai, I do not forget my duties to the blog! This is the first post that I wrote on a train coming back from London. This is what started it all off.

See what you make of this review. When I come back from my half-term holiday, I will be releasing an update about changing how I write the Picks. Please leave comments below and, most importantly, enjoy!

[I have added a couple of comments in these brackets to the original Pick].

19th April 2014

So on Easter Sunday, with a basket of Mini Eggs by my side, I faced the daunting task of clearing the Sky Planner of the endless pages films I had recorded, to make space for the new TV series Fargo and the omnibus of mind-numbing Emmerdale for my mother (I swear, it’s not mine).

I actually got through quite a bit. I proceeded to finish the end of Beatlejuice and finally watched Disney’s new animation Frozen, where we learn a girl doesn’t need a man to save the day… it isn’t like we learnt that already from Mulan.

I was about to richen my watching spree with the comedic, black-and-white Kind Hearts and Coronets, a fantastic classic with the talented Alec Guinness, playing the roles of an entire family, when I stumbled upon another film in my treasure trove: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

I already heard the rumours surrounding this cursed film, that even Angelina Jolie could not save it from unceremoniously failing, but I was intrigued. Rarely do I find a film to be just “bad”. Every film has its highlights. Firstly, this was the film that propelled Jolie’s career into stardom and was a recommended film on The Great Movie Experiment poll over classics like Fried Green Tomatoes, The Bodyguard and Rope.

Another reason this caught my attention was my recent involvement with the games. With last year’s release of Tomb Raider, I ventured into the franchise and enjoyed Lara’s origin story within the game and her continuing story through others like Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. So with this good image in mind, I decided to delve into the tombs (you get it?) of Simon West’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

What could possibly go wrong?Well ladies and gentlemen, I give this film an honourable place as one of the worst films I have seen. I would say least favourite or even the worst, but I don’t want to even give it the title of ‘a favourite’.

I also watched The Room the week after this, and I don’t think I need say more on that thing.

It is already widely known that mixing video games and movies is like mixing water and oil, each liquid holding six foot barge poles between them, so expectations were not high. Going by critics from Rotten Tomatoes, the highest rather film based on a video game is Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and that only holds a mere 44% fresh rating. [Although, I am hoping that the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie to break the curse].

Anyway, to quickly outline the plot of the film, Angelina Jolie plays Lara Croft, who finds a key that will unlock the ability to control time. The Illuminati  (yes, the Illuminati is in this film) want this power and pursue Croft to gain the key. As you can see, this is a really random plot. There really isn’t any way that I can describe it.

The film opens with a tomb and a raider. A promising start to a film with “tomb” and “raider”. I have to hand it to Jolie, she apparently was very thorough in preparing for her role in the film, learning acrobatics and martial arts. I didn’t mind the action part, as the way Lara moved around the fights was pretty cool, but then the CGI started.

Shoddy work was done for the CGI. First it was a giant robot in the first tomb (later revealed to be a training exercise), which Jolie hits with the butts of her pistol as if she’s flimsily trying to open a tin by whacking it with a teaspoon. Then a magical army of statues attack, which are apparently made like fabergé eggs. It cheapened the appeal of the fights, as well as cliches like the Indiana Jones vs Swordsman gag. Stealing content from nineteen years ago. Smooth.

The acting was more than poor. It was dead. I didn’t mind Jolie so much, as she seemed fairly fitted for the role, but personally, and I emphasise personally, I am not a fan of her acting style. Sorry Angie. However, what I’m annoyed about, is Daniel Craig. I jumped off my sofa quickly, seeing the actor before his James Bond days, thinking that the movie has surprisingly got better. Oh how wrong I was.

I didn’t know what was wrong with him, but he was just so… bland. There was nothing of interest about the character. You break my heart Bond. Again, Iain Glen, appearing in Game of Thrones and Doctor Who didn’t stop this catastrophe. Being the main antagonist, I know he could have done better than he did. Everyone in this film was just too wooden for my liking.

I’m going to have to finish with the inconsistencies and sheer lunacy of the writing. What on earth were the writers thinking? You have read the synopsis, and if you haven’t cringed at that weird set-up, get ready to start cocking your heads to one side to make sense of this film.

I’ll skip right to the end. Powell (Iain Glen), cannot fit the triangle (the key) together and realises Lara has figured it out. He then kills West (Daniel Craig) to force her to do it… Hang on, surely if you want to use West as a hostage, you want him alive? Obviously Glen didn’t read the How to be a Baddie text book in Edinburgh Academy. Anyway, Lara solves the puzzle by… I really don’t know how to describe it. I would prepare yourselves for this.

She throws the key into a time vortex orb (that is explained to be their just because it’s a weird place and weird things happen there) to separate it into millions of pieces. She takes a tiny, tiny lens out, throws a gun into the vortex, takes the laser point out, and wiggles it about at the vortex to mystically reveal the final piece of the triangle… Did any of you get that? Didn’t think so. How did she know this? She hasn’t seen a time vortex orb-y thing before and this suddenly clicks in her head like she’s solving two plus two?! Why does the vortex take things apart? Why does it act as an x-ray to people? WHY IS IT EVEN THERE?

Finally (I will be quick), it is the ending that made me throw the controls through the television. She meets her dead dad in some weird reality, who tells her not to use the triangle ever again. What does she do? Uses it to save West. but the fun doesn’t stop there ladies and gentlemen. She pauses time so that she stops the knife in mid air which Powells has thrown. What would be the best thing to do? Move West out the way? Throw the knife back? No, she turns the knife 180 degrees, and suddenly it acts like a boomerang to hit Powells. No words. The amount of logic that this breaks just makes me want to watch The Room again.

Skipping over the part where she returns to the collapsing tomb to fight Powells for no other reason than obtaining a locket with her dad’s photo (nope, me neither) I am horrified by how this film turned out. While action was fairly quick and sharp, acting was dull, writing made no sense and special effects were lacking (then again, it was made a good ten years ago.

All I can say is, this film defies logic to such an extent, that for anyone to take any of the story or characters seriously would need some medical attention.

[I have not edited any of the content. I agree that it is a very different style of writing to what I do now, but please let me know what you think. See you next Sunday!]