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Originally released in 1996, the first Tomb Raider game helped dig a failing developer (Eidos) out of the dirt and put it right up there as a well respected money making enterprise. The game was released on the Sega Saturn, the Sony Playstation and IBM compatible PC. It was a hit. Millions of adolescent teens picked up the box, showing the heroine, Lara Croft, in all her voluptuous glory and headed for the sales counter. After playing the game, they then realised that it wasn’t just a 3D world with a pixelated bottom facing the screen, it was a great action and adventure game. Eidos rubbed their hands in glee, and so the Tomb Raider series was born. Currently there are 5 different Tomb Raider games, with a new one available in November 2002. Eidos have used the franchise to spawn everything from action figures to trading cards, and from wall clocks to fancy dress costumes. If you haven’t already noticed, Lara is big business. The way computer games are going, with their intricate plots and incredible graphics it was only a natural evolution to then commission Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – the movie. And that’s where this review begins.

Stocking up on another glow stick, Lara prepared for her interview as the new ReadyBrek kid
Okay, so this is not an Academy Award winning, thought provoking period piece, but it is however a turbo-charged, guns blazing, action adventure. Amongst others, the movie stars Oscar winning actress Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted) and notably Chris Barrie (Rimmer – Red Dwarf) as the Lady Lara Croft and her butler Hillary, respectively. An interesting point – Lara’s father in the movie is Angelina’s father in real life, Oscar winning actor Jon Voight.

The story revolves around The Clock of Ages and both halves of the Triangle of Light. Whoever can piece together the triangle has the power to control space and time. So it’s pretty important. However it is also a race against time, as if the powers of the Triangle of Light are to be realised, it must be assembled at the exact moment when all the planets in the solar system align. This only happens once every 5000 years so missing it is not an option. The adventure starts at Lara’s mansion in Surrey and from there progresses to London, Cambodia and Siberia. It’s your average race against time, good versus evil, sexy heroine versus evil greasy haired slimy guy. However, this does not stop Lara Croft: Tomb Raider from being a fun popcorn movie. Lots of action, silly jokes and ridiculous stunts make this a great no-thinking film. Angelina Jolie is one of my favourite female actresses and again, she does not disappoint. She plays the confident, mildly arrogant adventurer very well and finds the time to add her unique brand of cute smile during the most hectic of action scenes. The evil baddie is played by Iain Glen. He is a little too over the top with the sliminess at times but he manages to portray a very confident villain with only one objective – to make the triangle complete. The supporting cast do their jobs, but I couldn’t help feeling that Lara’s assistants (Chris Barrie and Noah Taylor) were told they needed to be extra English, and therefore the “comedy relief” for the American audience.

The video is presented in its original format of 2.35:1 and is anamorphic as expected from a disc marked as “Special Collector’s Edition”.  The print is on the whole clean and sharp enough, but has some colour blurring in places and occasionally appears a little grainy. The colours however seem quite true to life which is I am guessing, an effort to make the movie look more British. This I have no problem with, especially Ms. Jolie tries so hard with her English accent to enhance the British-ness of the movie.

Squeezing hard, Lara was glad she had had beans on toast for breakfast
The main audio for Tomb Raider is a pleasing 5.1 Dolby Digital mix which is quite strong and vibrant. All channels are used effectively and the action scenes feel significantly more energised for this. This certainly is one of the better Dolby mixes I have heard. The soundtrack blasts throughout the movie, especially on the all important adrenaline pumping action scenes. Turn up the amplifier and enjoy!

Interesting fact - this is Salisbury Plain, not Siberia as claimed in the film
Being a Special Edition, there are several extras on this disc. The first noticeable one is the animated menus. There was obviously thought put into these and they look good. The rest of the extras are actually reasonable with interviews from cast (including Jolie and Voight) and the crew (including director Simon West), the training Jolie went through to turn into Lady Croft, a featurette on some of the stunts and a look at 8 of the main special effects sequences. There is also a look at the Tomb Raider game series, four deleted scenes, an alternate title sequence and the U2 music video – Elevation. There are several DVD-ROM features which are pretty standard fare as DVD-ROM features go – a timeline of the games lifetime, a demo of Tomb Raider: Chronicles, some archived Web site material and a link to a special internet site developed for the DVD. The final extra feature is the commentary by director Simon West. With so much going on there should be lots to talk about and on the whole this is a reasonably interesting commentary however there were times when I was wondering if he could have used the art director or someone from special effects to back him up a little. Still, it’s nice to hear what went wrong with certain parts of filming, and about how protective Jon Voight is of his little girl.

Lara required a little more than normal motivation for her marathon training
I like this movie. Like a jar of Ronseal – it does exactly what it says on the tin. The cast do their jobs and the movie delivers plenty of action. It is a fine example of the genre and the Special Edition disc also proves worthy. If you are ever in need of a movie which you can turn up loud at the end of the week for a bit of fun, then this might be the one for you. Roll on Tomb Raider 2 – The Cradle of Life (working title).