REVIEW: LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER 1 & 2

CAST
Angelina Jolie (Hackers)
Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Jon Voight (Transformers)
Iain Glen (Game of Thrones)
Noah Taylor (Powers)
Chris Barrie (Red Dawrf)
Julian Rhind-Tutt (Rabbit Fever)
The film opens with Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) in an Egyptian tomb, seeking a diamond at one end of a chamber. As she approaches she is attacked by a large robot. After an intense chase and battle, she disables it by ripping out its motivational circuits. She takes the diamond, which is revealed to be a memory card labeled “Lara’s Party Mix”, and inserts it into a laptop computer inside the robot, whereupon it plays music. Now it is revealed that the scene took place in a practice arena in her home, and that her assistant Bryce (Noah Taylor) programmed the robot, SIMON, to challenge her in combat.
It is the day of the first phase of a planetary alignment, culminating in a solar eclipse, which (in the film) happens once every 5,000 years. In Venice, the Illuminati search for a key to rejoin halves of “the triangle”, which must be done by the final phase of the alignment. Mr. Powell (Iain Glen), an Illuminati member, makes assurances that they are almost ready, but in reality he has no idea where to find the key. Lara’s butler, James “Hilly” Hillary (Chris Barrie), tries to interest her in several projects; but she ignores them. May 15, as Hilly is aware, is the day that Lara’s father disappeared many years earlier. She has not recovered from his loss.
Later that night, Lara has a dream reminding her what her father said about the alignment and an object linked to it called the Triangle of Light. Waking, she is aware of a clock ticking. Searching for it, she discovers a secret chamber under the staircase with a carriage clock that had spontaneously begun ticking. Bryce probes it and discovers a strange device hidden inside the clock.
Since the device resembles a clock, Lara consults a clock expert friend of her father’s, Mr. Wilson (Leslie Phillips). She believes it is connected to the “Triangle of Light”, but Wilson disavows knowledge of the clock or the Triangle. Lara encounters Alex West (Daniel Craig), a fellow tomb raider with unscrupulous methods. They are attracted to each other, but Croft cannot abide his for-profit attitude. That night, Lara is contacted by Wilson, who tells her that he gave her name to a man named Manfred Powell in regards of the clock. In reality, Wilson is also a member of the Illuminati.
The next day, Lara sees Powell in his home, and shows him photographs of the clock. Later, while discussing it with Bryce, she points out that Powell was lying about his knowledge. That night, as Lara does a bungee ballet, armed commandos invade the house and steal the clock despite her attempts to fend them off.
 The next morning, Lara receives a letter from her father, arranged to arrive after the beginning of the alignment, where he explains that the clock is the key to retrieve two halves of the mystic Triangle of Light, which is revealed to be an object of phenomenal destructive power that granted its wielder power over time and space. He says that it was made from a metal found in a meteor crater made by a meteor that had fallen to earth during a previous alignment. Initially housed in a city built in the meteor crater by those who worshiped the object, misuse of the Triangle’s power destroyed the city and so it was split into two halves; one was hidden in a tomb in Cambodia, the other half in the ruined city itself, in modern-day Siberia. Her father urges her to find and destroy both halves before the Illuminati can find it.
In Cambodia, West figures out part of the puzzle on how to retrieve the triangle half, but Lara manages to successfully grab the piece. Before everyone can leave, the liquid metal which came out with the piece brings the statues in the temple to life and attacks the team killing some members. Lara is left to fight off and destroy a huge six-armed guardian statue which is the last one to come to life. She successfully defeats it and leaves the temple by diving through a waterfall. She then travels to a Buddhist town where a young monk welcomes her. After a worship service, an aged monk who is the leader there gives Lara some tea and as they converse, he tells her that he knew her father before.
She and Powell arrange to meet in Venice, since each of them has what the other needs to finish the Triangle. Powell proposes a partnership to find the Triangle, and informs Lara that her father was a member of the Illuminati, which she vehemently denies. Though hesitant at first, she, along with Bryce, meets with Powell for the trip to Siberia. Inside the tomb, there is a giant model of the solar system, which activates as the alignment nears completion. Lara retrieves the last half of the Triangle, but when Powell tries to complete it, the halves will not fuse. He realizes that Lara knows the solution to the puzzle, and kills West in order to persuade her to complete the Triangle to save both West’s life and her father’s. Lara reluctantly complies, and they then struggle for control of the Triangle, with Lara prevailing.
Lara then finds herself in a strange alternate existence facing her father Lord Richard Croft (Jon Voight). He explains that it is a “crossing” of time and space, and urges her to destroy the Triangle instead of using it to save his life. She leaves her father and returns to the chamber, where time is slowly running backwards from the point where Powell killed West. Croft takes the knife he threw into West’s chest and reverses it, then destroys the Triangle, which returns time to its normal flow and directs the knife into Powell’s shoulder. The chamber begins to self-destruct, Everyone turns to leave, but Powell tells Croft that he killed her father and retrieved his pocket watch with a picture of Lara’s mother inside. Lara and Powell engage in a hand-to-hand fight. Lara kills him, retrieves it, and escapes as the chamber crumbles.
At the mansion, Hilly and Bryce are shocked to see Lara wearing a dress. She goes into the garden to her father’s memorial, then returns inside, where Bryce has a reprogrammed SIMON, ready to challenge Lara once again. Hilly reveals a silver tray holding Lara’s pistols, which she takes with a smile.
Lara Croft Tomb Raider is a fairly good effort considering that it is a movie based on a video game series. The story is rather on the cheesy side; but if you’re a Tomb Raider fan, or you just love guns and the occasional bit of scenery destruction, then this 1½ hour offering of action and adventure is well worth your time.

CAST

Angelina Jolie (Wanted)
Chris Barrie (Red Dawrf)
Gerard Butler (300)
Ciaran Hinds (The Woman In Black)
Noah Taylor (Powers)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)
Robert Cavanah (Highlander: The Raven)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)

On Santorini island, Greece, a wedding is interrupted by a strong earthquake. The earthquake uncovers the Luna Temple, built by Alexander the Great to house his most prized treasures. Among these treasures is a glowing orb with a pattern resembling a code etched into it. Lara (Angelina Jolie) finds this orb; but it is stolen by the crime lord Chen Lo (Simon Yam). Lara only just manages to escape with a strange medallion, while her two companions are killed by Chen’s men.
Lara is tasked by MI6 to find Pandora’s Box, an object from ancient legends that supposedly contains a deadly plague (the companion to the origin of life itself), before Nobel Prize-winning scientist turned bio-terrorist Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds) can get his hands on it and unleash it on the world. The key to finding the box, which is hidden in the mysterious Cradle of Life, is a magical luminous sphere that serves as a map – the one stolen by Chen Lo, who plans to sell the sphere to Reiss.
MI6 offers Lara the help of two of their best operatives, but she flat-out refuses them, insisting she needs to work with an old flame of hers who has knowledge of Chen Lo’s criminal operation. Reluctantly, but having no other choice, they relent and release Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) from a maximum security prison. Terry is delighted to have the opportunity to work with Lara again, (after their previous ‘heated’ five months). They infiltrate Chen Lo’s lair, where he is excavating/smuggling Terracotta Soldiers. Lara defeats him in a fight, winning back the medallion and forcing him to reveal the location of the stolen orb/map.
Lara and Terry then meet up with Kosa (Djimon Hounsou), an African friend who serves as translator as they question a local tribe about the Cradle of Life. Kosa translates the tribe’s Chief as stating that the Cradle of Life is in a crater protected by the “Shadow Guardians”. As the expedition sets out, Lara, Kosa, and the tribesmen with them are ambushed by Reiss’ soldiers. As the fight continues, more tribesmen are killed by the soldiers, and Lara kills some of the soldiers. The battle ends when Lara surrenders in the face of overwhelming odds, as Reiss’ helicopter lands.
Reiss and Sean (Til Schweiger) threaten to kill Bryce, Hillary and Kosa unless Lara leads him and his Tribeman to the Cradle of Life. Upon arrival at the crater, they encounter the Shadow Guardians, humanoid creatures which kill immediately when they sense movement and vanish into wet patches on dead trees. Sean and most of Reiss’ soldiers are killed by the creatures. When Lara drops the Orb into the hole that opens the entrance to the Cradle of Life, the Guardians disintegrate and both Lara and Reiss are drawn into the Cradle, a labyrinthine cavern made of a strange crystalline substance, racked by bolts of energy. Inside, they find a pool of highly corrosive black acid (linking back to one of the myths about Pandora’s Box), in which the box floats. Normal laws of physics seem not to apply, as Lara and Reiss are able to walk (upside down) along the ceiling of the cave. Terry arrives, frees Reiss’ captives, and catches up to Lara.
Following a climactic fistfight between Lara and Reiss, Reiss is knocked into the acid pool by Lara after being distracted by Terry. The acid kills him and dissolves his flesh. As the couple prepares to leave, Terry retrieves the box, claiming it as compensation for finding it; but Lara staunchly refuses to let him take it, knowing the danger if the box were ever opened. When he challenges her willingness to stop him, she regretfully shoots him dead and leaves him lying by the pool, then replaces the box to float in the acid.
This film is a big budget, action adventure, with a likeable female lead, decent stunts, and consistently energetic direction and pacing.
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