Classic Intel: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - TV Review

'the Manfred Powell character emerges as the sole enjoyable facet, Iain Glen hamming it up manfully as your atypical English gentleman who speaks properly and therefore, must be evil'

In assessing how bad Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is, look to our Daniel Craig Guide as your handy reference point. The guide (which we made up, just now) says that, basically, if you’ve got the current James Bond in your film then you’re going to have to really try very hard to make it unlikable, conceited and uninteresting in every way possible. And my word, does Lara Croft try.

Not content with simply having Craig in his film, Director Simon West seems to try every conceivable method of making his character an unappealing cad. Craig’s forced American accent is horrible, his clothes of the sort normally worn by fifty-year old ramblers and his limited lines still manage to squeeze in such insightful observations as 'ya know, I think it's really cool that you can still keep a day job'. The character's meant to be unlikeable sure but the acting is horrendous and the scripting woeful. As far as the Craig Guide goes, it’s a disaster, a bottom scorer, a none event.

In case this rather protracted metaphor hasn't quite hit home yet, the Craig Guide on this occasion proves entirely accurate in its assessment of the film as a whole. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider falls into the trap one hundred or so videogame adaptations have fallen into since by trying to reproduce the feeling and gameplay of the source material rather than focusing on a good story, a solid script and some good performances. The opening, which sees Lara (Angelina Jolie) perform just about every move it was possible to do in the games, is a case in point; it's flashy and action-packed but the dialogue is wooden and it serves next to no purpose as far as the plot is concerned, despite its obvious desire to position Lara Croft next to Indiana Jones.

The plot itself appears to draw in every piece of hokum writers Patrick Massett and John Zinman could think of. There's ancient stone statues that come to life, an anonymous young girl who shows Lara the way, the hint of time travel, several mysterious clocks and a massive model of the galaxy, all bundled loosely together in something which involves The Illuminati and Iain Glen's nefarious villain Manfred Powell. Actually, Powell emerges as the sole enjoyable facet of Lara Croft, Glen hamming it up manfully as your atypical English gentleman who speaks properly and therefore, must be evil.

A failure on almost every front, this is a prime example of the pitfalls involved when adapting videogames for the big screen. Lord knows how a sequel ever got the go-ahead.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was showing on the ITV channels in the UK.

Look further...

'Tomb Raider's muddled screenplay still resembles a low-rent Indiana Jones caper whose entertaining action set-pieces mask a hollow core' - BBC Films, 3/5

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