Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Directed by Simon West

Artistic Value: * * *
Entertainment Value: * * * ½

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Synopsis & Analysis
Simon West's Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, based on the video game of the same title and starring Angelina Jolie as the eponymous heroine, is a fun, genuinely exciting film.

The movie's story concerns a mysterious key and a magical time controlling artifact sought by a ruthless villain but is little more than an excuse to propel Lara from one location and adventure to the next. She moves in the course of the film from England to Cambodia to Iceland, each of which provides dramatic backdrops to a series of nearly constant action sequences.

The protagonist herself is a wealthy English aristocrat, complete with country manor and butler, who also happens to be an adventurer with an interest in archeology. While she may not be the most sophisticated character to appear in film, she is nicely brought to life by Angelina Jolie, who really does acquit herself well as the intrepid heroine. The actress plays the character as tough and physically powerful but remains extremely sexy in every situation. What is more, Ms Jolie's sensual performance is significantly enhanced by the director's considerable interest in displaying her physical attributes. She hardly wears a costume that fails to emphasize the curves of her body. I do not mention this as a criticism of the film, however. The sexiness of the character is a large part of her appeal. She is strong and erotic, an object of lust, but not a passive and helpless entity to be exploited.

West has actually managed to create a decent and genuinely exciting movie. His heroine is entertaining to watch, and the action sequences which constitute the bulk of the film, while not stunning, are enjoyable. There is hardly a slow moment from start to finish. While not as funny or stylish as Charlie's Angels or as exhilarating as a Jackie Chan movie, Lara Croft is an entertaining adventure film.

Review by Keith Allen

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