|So many questions have surrounded Tomb Raider. Prior to its release, people asked things like, "Can Hollywood actually make a good video-game movie?" "Can a movie accurately capture the nature of a game?" and "Will Angelina Jolie get implants?" But as we were watching the film, we began wondering things like, "What the hell is going on and why should we care?" "You call that a villain?" and "Can we forgive Angelina for this?"
The answer to that last question is, of course, yes. Like everyone else we know, male, female, gay, straight or otherwise, we have something of a crush on Angelina Jolie. Unlike most of our friends, however, we have only the purest of intentions. Ours is more of a platonic desire to hang out with her, baking cookies, watching TV, helping her pick out her next tattoo. We just think she's neat. In that psychotic-yet-cute way of hers.
And it is that very combination of homicidal capability and girlish glee that makes Jolie such a great Lara Croft. The movie opens with a knockout fight sequence between Lara and a massive, armed robot. Lara dispatches the creature with two-fisted shooting and slick acrobatics, then breaks into a big ol' grin. We admit it---we swooned.
Then we sighed and rolled our eyes as Lara, her nerd sidekick Bryce and her butler Hillary engaged in some of the most banal banter we've ever heard (and yes, that does include the last "high-tech happy hour" we attended). One gratuitous shower scene and two peeks at the side of Lara's hooters later, we had lost that initial hope.
Our hope continued to drop steadily as the "plot" was inflicted upon us. Y'see, the Illuminati (a group of old white folks in formal wear) are trying to get their hands on the Triangle of Light in time for the planetary alignment, so they can control time and have "the power of God." The alignment only happens every 5,000 years, so they hire a Euro-scumbag with botched cheek implants to find the two halves of the triangle. These are supposed to be our "bad guys," but there's no real menace there. Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader, Indiana Jones had the Nazis---all Lara gets is a committee of global micromanagers and a British lounge lizard.
We will say this, though: the movie is very true to the game. The set design captures many of the game's interiors, right down to the dusty lighting. Jolie has all of Lara's moves; watching her spin and flip while firing continuously did our gaming heart proud. And thanks to some padding, Jolie matches Lara's genetically improbable dimensions (the importance of this to the movie's target market---and the creepiness of that importance---cannot be overstated). Oddly, the final mano-a-mano fight scene resembled an arcade fighting game the most. After Lara strikes a major blow, we half expected to see the words "FINISH HIM!" appear on screen.
If you're a stickler for plot or characterization, you'll be much better off seeing Memento again. But if you're a fan of the Tomb Raider games, Angelina Jolie or cool fight scenes with long bathroom breaks in between, we've found the movie for you. Can you dig it?