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Introduction
In the past films based on video game characters have tended to be complete disasters, with the abysmal Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle ‘Street Fighter’ standing head and shoulders above the rest as probably the worst film ever. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is based on the phenomenally successful video games of the same name, but can the film emulate their success, or will it become another derided novelty?

Can you spot the target audience?
Film
Angelina Jolie stars as the eponymous heroine, the Tomb Raider of the title. Lara is a wealthy adventurer who loves nothing more than exploring ancient ruins in search of priceless treasures, kicking a bit of arse as and when needs be.

When Ms. Croft discovers a mysterious relic in a secret room in her mansion it leads her on a quest for the artefact known as The Triangle of Light, a fantastic treasure with the power to alter space and time. Lara has to work against the clock in order to reach the Triangle before a secret society known as The Illuminati do, lest it be used for their sinister agenda.

Along the way Lara must travel many miles and face many dangers, using the resources at her disposal to find the Triangle before The Illuminate (headed by the nefarious Manfred Powell) get their hands on it.

So now you know the basic story, what is the film really like? Well for starters it doesn’t break the curse of video game/movie crossovers. Tomb Raider is a flawed piece of work and no doubt about it. The biggest problem is the pacing; there is just no time for character development. The whole thing is an excuse for the, admittedly good, action sequences, with the bits in between merely acting as padding. Even these sequences tend to drag on far too long, and most have been done countless times before.

You never actually get the impression that the world is in any real danger. This is not so much because Lara Croft is on the case, but because the bad guys are buffoons with little or no characterisation. Angelina Jolie does put in a reasonable performance, and she definitely looks the part, but something is still lacking. Her padded bra also looks a bit obvious. Iain Glen, who plays Manfred Powell, looks far too young for his role, and the guy who plays Lara’s sometime love interest is about as charismatic as a brush. Noah Taylor is ok as the geeky scientist who designs all of Lara’s gadgets, and Chris Barrie (of Red Dwarf fame) is passable as her butler. The problem with Barrie, and this is more of a problem with me actually, is that he is too recognisable as ‘Rimmer’ from Red Dwarf. I kept looking for the ‘goalposts’ on his head… Perhaps the best performance comes from Jon Voight, who plays Lara’s deceased father in a number of flashback sequences.

Give 'im some!
Video
As a relatively new film you would expect Tomb Raider to have a flawless, razor sharp transfer, would you not? Well you’d be in for a slight disappointment. There is some noticeable grain in the image, which detracts from the overall score. Colours are often muted, although I suspect that this is no fault of the transfer. The various locations all look nice, as do the action segments, and there are some fair special effects on offer. All in all this is a slightly above average transfer.

Audio
This comes in the form of Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround tracks. On the whole I was very disappointed with the mix, which is far below the standards I would expect for a major new release. Dialogue is often muted, especially during the action scenes, and the music suffers the same fate. The sound effects drown out the score to the extent that it’s almost like you’re listening underwater at times…There also seems to be far too much bass in the mix, which only serves to exacerbate the above problems.

Extras
At first glance the disc looks to have a fair selection of additional content. I say at first glance because, as is becoming increasingly common, the extras are of little worth. Included are your standard backslapping documentaries on the making of the film, entitled ‘Digging into Tomb raider’, ‘Crafting Lara Croft’, ‘The Stunts of Tomb Raider and ‘Visual Effects of Tomb Raider’. None are particularly exciting. There is also a documentary exploring the computerised origins of Lara entitled ‘Are You game?’ which is worth at least one viewing.

Also included in the package are four deleted scenes of little interest, an alternate main title sequence, a U2 music video and some DVD-ROM features. The last extra is the commentary track by director Simon West. It should have been ninety minutes of apologies to be honest (which reminds me of an episode of the Simpsons and a certain Kevin Costner film, but I digress…). West does sound enthusiastic about the film, so it is at least entertaining, almost more so than the film actually. On the down side he does sound like he’s reading from a script at times…

An evil solicitor? Surely not?
Overall
Sadly this is yet another in a long line of video game to movie flops. The pacing is off, there is zero character development and the 'story' is just an excuse for one set piece after another. Angelina is ok as Lara, and there’s no arguing that she’s wonderful eye-candy, but even the divine miss Jolie can’t rescue this mess. This is definitely one for the die-hard gaming fans and twenty seven year old virgins out there. Best avoided.


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