Second Look: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Peter Lennon asks if the Angelina Jolie game adaptation deserves its rotten reputation

Peter Lennon
2nd March 2020
It’s no secret that the general population has gotten together and marked video game film adaptations as the worst of the worst. But let’s be honest here, we all have one or two that we secretly love to watch with a big bowl of popcorn and drinks galore. As how these things usually go, mine is from a game series that I have loved for many, many years: Tomb Raider.

In explaining my love for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), I’m going to have to go back and explain my love for the original game series. Much like the creators of the game series, I was infatuated with the Indiana Jones film series as a child. The formula of great action, the mystical and occult, as well as the whimsical sense of exploration is the perfection of the adventure genre. And it’s surprisingly hard to find elsewhere.

Has there ever been better casting for a game adaptation? Image:IMDB

I’ve searched many books, TV shows and films for this combination, but only Tomb Raider and Uncharted have successfully taken it while making it their own. With that being said, the prospect of Tomb Raider film is always going to be an exciting one for me and the original Lara Croft delivers the goods.

World-ending plot revolving around the legend of the Illuminati? Check. Great chemistry and rivalry between the two budding stars? Check. A ridiculous tomb raiding sequence involving a charismatic Angelina Jolie swinging on a pillar while being attacked by sword-swinging Cambodian golems? Check, check, check.

There’s no doubt that it’s ridiculous and Lara Croft is completely unpractical, but it’s hard to not have a good time when a badass woman is destroying ninjas and mystical monsters while wielding dual pistols.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider will always have a special place in my heart.

Beyond the obvious popcorn thrills of the film, there’s a surprisingly sweet story about Lara trying to find closure with the death of her father at such an early age. It’s not Casa Blanca or Shakespeare, but I always appreciate the efforts of director Simon West and writers Patrick Massett and John Zinman to include a heart in a film that others wouldn’t bother to include. It’s true folly to believe that a film doesn’t need a heart and, unlike many other “bad” films (video game related or not), Lara Croft doesn’t fall into this trap.

While I get a great deal of enjoyment out of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) and Tomb Raider (2018), I have chosen the original Lara Croft: Tomb Raider just because it has had a particular charming affect. Maybe it’s the techno-rock (and totally awesome) soundtrack or Daniel Craig doing what he can with an American accent in the pre-Knives Out era of cinema, but Lara Croft: Tomb Raider will always have a special place in my heart.

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AUTHOR: Peter Lennon
English Literature undergraduate. Although I primarily write for the Courier's Film section, I do love helping out in the Televsion and Gaming sections as well. I also organise and host livestreams/radio shows as FilmSoc's inaugural Head of Radio. Twitter: @PeterLennon79

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