As to be expected
June 16, 2001 4:38 PM   Subscribe

As to be expected the dumb critics are ripping Lara Croft to shreds; I mean really tearing it a new orifice. Which means of course I must see this film. Major argument against? A hack plot designed only to engender scenes of mindless violence. Duh. It's not supposed to have emotional impact. It's just supposed to be fun. Did any of these critics actually play the game? What frightens me though is that Roger Ebert enjoyed it... I'm so torn...
posted by ZachsMind (49 comments total) already has a thread on this and I have to agree with most of their comments regarding Ebert. As phatboy put it on, "As misguided as Ebert is on occasion, he does have a genuine enthusiasm for the movies. Most reviewers seem to find their jobs a chore. Thus I will tend to trust his opionion on the worth of a movie in the face of most signs otherwise. He also is not afraid to give a film a good score just because it has hot chicks in it, which I can empathize with." Yes, I agree with that. Ebert is not afraid to give a good film a great rating just because of the chicks. He enjoys his movies, thank you.
posted by crog at 5:03 PM on June 16, 2001

I think it's just a crying shame that the money ran out when it came to buying buttons for Lara's coats. Cruising through Siberia, or some such cold place, and nary a "dodie" to be found. That's some miracle bra. Still, it rates well above Battlefield Earth.
posted by heather at 5:35 PM on June 16, 2001

Saw it last night. Is it a good movie? No. Does it feature Jolie running around in tight clothes shooting guns? Yes. Is that enough of a reason to go see it? That's up to you.

Personally, I hoped for more. This could have been the female 007 - she's rich, sexy, taking on the big baddies, etc. But it wasn't that.

Or it could have been the female version of the Dark Knight - dark, moody, rich woman, parents dead, out to right wrongs. But it wasn't that, either.

It was something to watch while you eat popcorn. Kinda fun, but nowhere in the same neighborhood as Indiana Jones or anything else it's being compared to. It's a video game you watch instead of play. Go in expecting that and you won't be disappointed.
posted by fraying at 5:36 PM on June 16, 2001

I saw it yesterday, and I'm with the yaysayers: perfectly harmless fun, targeted at teenage boys and girls. Here in Manhattan, fully half of the audience was young teenage girls, who had the same nice after-movie glow that the boys did, and were jabbering away about the game as well.

The only people who seemed not to like it were those who, as always, had read the negative reviews, came to the theater anyway, and then snickered or hissed at parts specifically picked out by the movie reviewers as heinous, bogus or lame. This happens all the time; those people are to be avoided and ignored. As should the people who only laugh at the funny scenes already pre-chosen for them as humorous by the movie trailer.

Today I saw Atlantis and I would say the two movies are about equal, though Atlantis had more real humor.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:36 PM on June 16, 2001

Hee.. "Great ears"... heee....
posted by SpecialK at 6:07 PM on June 16, 2001

Ebert not only loves the movies. He also loves women in goofy, yet sexy outfits and, in some cases, little to no clothing. Or has no one here ever seen Beyond the Valley of the Dolls? Of course, that one also had the Strawberry Alarm Clock in it, but that's another story entirely.
posted by raysmj at 7:04 PM on June 16, 2001

I saw it yesterday in a matinee. I'm glad I only blew five bucks.

The movie lost all sense of fun and adventure when they tried to make Lara a former member of an SAS brick.

Even for a movie based on a game with bouncing titties...puuuuh-lease.

It was ridiculous, it was sophomoric, it was stupid and it wasn't any of those things in a consistently fun way. It was a plain shitty movie that wasn't more fun than it was tedious.
posted by Spanktacular at 7:33 PM on June 16, 2001

M favorite part of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is when the guy falls from the rafters, and there is a dubed in airplane nosedive sound!
Too funny.
posted by dong_resin at 7:38 PM on June 16, 2001

It was a fun little romp. My complaint was that it didn't have enough huge, ludicrous explosions. Generous supply of bouncing boobies though.
posted by owillis at 8:07 PM on June 16, 2001

My daughters are excited about the movie - not because they play the video game, or are particularly interested in the plot, but because it shows a very strong independent woman who (apparently) kicks plenty of a** and "takes care of business." Same reason they flipped over "Charlie's Angels" (the movie, not 70s TV). It's called *girlpower* -- and they love it. I like the analogy of a female 007 - and maybe it's not too late to turn it into a Bond-style series. Will I see it? Maybe - on video for three bux.
posted by davidmsc at 8:24 PM on June 16, 2001

One more thing: Roger Ebert transcends the title "film critic." His reviews are at least as entertaining as most of the movies out there - intelligent, witty, perceptive, and often humorous. If you haven't read one of his "Movie Home Companion" (or similarly titled) books, I highly recommend doing so - it will (probably) increase your ability to enjoy a given movie.
posted by davidmsc at 8:37 PM on June 16, 2001

. . .It was a fun little romp. . .

I'd probably go see it then.
posted by crasspastor at 8:39 PM on June 16, 2001

I haven't seen the flick yet, but the soundtrack is good. Songs by the Chemical Brothers, Nine Inch Nails, Basement Jaxx, and Outkast must just provide a nice sonic pace to the movie.

Other than Jolie clad in tight clothes, is she really that sexy? She's really wierd, but sexy?
posted by shackbar at 9:05 PM on June 16, 2001

I found it mostly a waste of time. A fine film if you're drunk, a teenager, or don't care for plot lines.
posted by fleener at 9:16 PM on June 16, 2001

How old are your daughters? I'm not sure how good a message it is to say "girlpower" requires the possession of huge, ludicrous boobies.

How did they ever hide all those tattoos on Angelina's bodacious bod, anyway?
posted by aaron at 9:17 PM on June 16, 2001

Behold bouncing boobies! A must see!

David Manning
posted by machaus at 9:23 PM on June 16, 2001

I am definitely an Ebert partisan. I like his reviews, becase he's not afraid to like a film simply because it looks good.
posted by youthbc1 at 9:31 PM on June 16, 2001

Ebert loves spectacle. If a movie doesn't have spectacle, it has to satisfy him in other ways, but it's perfectly possible to make him happy with spectacle alone as long as it is imaginative or fun. Apparently, bouncing boobies are up to the task.
posted by kindall at 9:42 PM on June 16, 2001

I thought the movies, in their rush to the PG-13 rating, had forgotten about breasts. In the age of computerized sci-fi special effects, beautiful skin finishes a distant second at the box office. Once teenage boys wanted to see Emmanuelle undulating; now they want to see Keanu Reeves levitating.

-Roger Ebert on Swordfish.

Can't you picture the producers scrambling to put in the breast shots for positive Ebert reviews?
posted by john at 9:58 PM on June 16, 2001

if hollywood is insistant on releasing vapid and meaningless movies, it better be prepared to get a lot of flak.

it looks like angelina jolie has finally decided to let go of being an actor. now she can do movies like gone in 60 seconds and the bone collector without having to interrupt her personal wealth creation with token duds like girl, interrupted.
posted by will at 10:01 PM on June 16, 2001

"It's just supposed to be fun. Did any of these critics actually play the game?"

Why, is the game supposed to be fun?

I dislike critics with the best of them....but I wouldn't go so far as to put them throught actually having to play the game.

Put them in stocks, tar and feather them by all means. But I rule out actual torture.
posted by lucien at 10:22 PM on June 16, 2001

aaron: How old are your daughters? I'm not sure how good a message it is to say "girlpower" requires the possession of huge, ludicrous boobies.

Excuse me, Aaron, nowhere did I say that "girlpower" requires the possession of huge, ludicrous boobies. Perhaps you've been all too entranced by them, however. What my kids like about "Tomb Raider" and Lara Croft is the no-nonsense, fearless, fighting-for-justice, get-the-bad-guys attitude portrayed in the commercials & trailers. By your logic (or inference) their appreciation of Pokemon may only be ruse to sneak peeks at Pikachu's *****, eh?

Bottom line: what many young ladies like about Croft is sorta like what many guys like about Batman or other such comic-creations: super-human/hero qualities that they would like to possess.
posted by davidmsc at 10:26 PM on June 16, 2001

Action model of Laura Croft, out soon!

"But Mummy, she just keeps falling over!"

"Darling, you forgot to attach the counterweight"
posted by lucien at 10:47 PM on June 16, 2001

Lucien: The action figure is out. Angelina Jolie even peeked under the t-shirt at the Tonight show with Jay Leno, and she was disappointed that it had a bra on.
posted by riffola at 11:27 PM on June 16, 2001

"Why, is the game supposed to be fun?" Yes it is. And for me it was fun. If you found the game to be a chore, then I do not recommend this film for you. I went to see it this evening. I must say I'm spoiled by the Grenada. The hell with my diet, and my pocketbook. This is perhaps little more than a popcorn movie, as Ebert so skillfully pointed out. The thing is though, that's what it's supposed to be.

Tomb Raider is not incredibly remarkable as cinema goes. Perhaps this film will not even be remembered five months from now. It doesn't beat Raiders of the Lost Ark but it does beat Temple of Doom. Ellen Ripley is admittedly a better action film role for a woman than Lara Croft. The plot of Tomb Raider is atrociously laughable, the characters are little more than stereotypes, and the storytelling is way below par. The important aspects of the plot are only kept in view with props. I've seen episodes of Hogan's Heroes which were better directed. The movie's plot involves pieces of puzzles that don't really stimulate the mind. You know who's going to win before the first reel is through, so there's no suspense and no way to engender the audience to the impending doom of failure. We know failure will never come. If this film tried to be suspenseful, it would have been an exercise in futility. The same can be said about even the best of the Bond films. We know Bond wins. We just don't know how. Though Tomb Raider is no Goldfinger, it is definitely an improvement on the weaker Bond films like Moonraker, or the ones with Timothy Dalton. And Angelina Jolie relishes her role, just as Sean Connery seemed to be having fun in his earlier Bond films. Jolie IS without question Oscar material, but here she's eating cake, and loving every bite. She doesn't have to prove herself.

I was afraid when I first heard they were going to make a Croft film, that they wouldn't find a talent to fit the mold. Maybe they had to stuff her bra, but she has the intelligence and the confidence to more than compensate admirably. Perhaps I was one of the few who played that game looking for more than computerized boobies? There's more to the character of Lara Croft than boobies. Jolie breathed life into all the polygons that comprise Lara Croft. I can't imagine anyone else playing this role now.

Just as in the video game, the plot and characters are painfully simplified. So in that, Tomb Raider the Movie achieves its goal. Its intent is to take a technologically advanced and visually stimulating but otherwise un-noteworthy videogame, and bring it to the big screen. It does that like a good poker player trumps a full house with a royal flush while ordering a martini, shaken, not stirred. If you liked the game, it's worth seeing. If you're in the mood for a roller coaster of a film that is new and refreshing but doesn't make you think much, it's worth the price. If you didn't like the game, or only enjoy movies rich in plot development and characters, this movie is very skippable. Tomb Raider IS a fun romp. That's all it advertised itself as. That's all it wanted to be. It succeeds in that. It all comes down to what you personally are in the mood for. Do you want popcorn, or do you want a full meal? Fortunately for me, when I go to the Grenada, I can get both. Popcorn for the eyes and wine coolers, blackened chicken, chips and queso for the palette.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:33 PM on June 16, 2001

I still miss Gene Siskel, and thought that he provided a great counterpoint to R. Ebert. The "two thumbs up" doesn't really mean much coming from Ebert and else!

Aside from that, after watching the movie, I completely agree with fraying about what the movie could or should have been! But alas, the great-let's-appeal-to-the-masses-Hollywood mentality, unfortunately, made this into another semi-action-adventure without-a-decent-plot crap!

For those of you looking for a movie with a good plot and great acting should check out Memento. A great modern film noir, it really makes you think, and the ending will creep you out! Guy Pierce should be nominated.
posted by Rastafari at 11:40 PM on June 16, 2001

As far as I'm concerned - Between May and August There Shall Be No Thinking @ The Movies, Only Merriment
posted by owillis at 12:29 AM on June 17, 2001

Merriment and hideous traviesties.
posted by dong_resin at 12:53 AM on June 17, 2001

This is TYPICAL CONSERVATIVE nonsense, because the liberalBushfascistmumblemumblemumble... oh wait, wrong thread... Heh... for once, I don't have anything particularly political to say about a link. :)

Yeah, Ebert's one of the best (I could do without Roeper though, who I think is a terrible reviewer; he seems to be a movie reviewer who dislikes movies). I don't always agree with Ebert, but he's honest and recognizes that a movie with no purpose but to keep you entertained for two hours is fine so long as it realizes it's purpose. I agreed with him about Tomb Raider: it's random, barely coherent, and most of all dopey, but dopey in a fun way; pure mindless kill- time- on- a- Saturday- afternoon kinda fun, checking out the muy caliente! Angelina Jolie and some nice action sequences. They coulda done more with the whole Illuminati thing, jazzed up the "evil badguys" and made them more menacing (we don't get enough screen time with them to care if they do take over the world), added some mystique to it- basically what was done with R.o.t.L.A., really.

Semi-related question: am I really the only one who thought Hudson Hawk was actually pretty good? Richard Grant and Sandra Bernhardt as evil billionaires, the whole Da Vinci death ray thing- I think Tomb Raider could have done with a touch of that goofiness...
posted by hincandenza at 1:12 AM on June 17, 2001

Any movie with Bruce Willis singing, "Would You Like to Swing on a Star?" is top choice cinema, for sure.

Not to mention that "huge, ludicrous boobies" are very much a non-issue where Sandra Bernhardt is involved.
posted by precocious at 4:03 AM on June 17, 2001

With all the talk of critics, do any of you read The Filthy Critic? He has a unique ability to inject rather cogent criticisms into stretches of obscenities with great skill. Reading his reviews make me laugh every damned time.
posted by Spanktacular at 5:09 AM on June 17, 2001

Well, there's always been the notion that the Best Supporting Actress Winner usually fades into obscurity. It doesn't always happen, but look at the winners in the last 10 years. Mercedes Ruehl, Marisa Tomei and Mira Sorvino are where now? Paquin's lucky for getting X-Men and Almost Famous, and Judi Dench really is the only person who doesn't have to worry about roles.

Jolie may be next to ride that Downward Spiral. I hope she proves us wrong.

Nominee/Recipient Film
1999 (72nd) Angelina Jolie - "Girl, Interrupted"
1998 (71st) Judi Dench - "Shakespeare in Love"
1997 (70th) Kim Basinger "L.A. Confidential"
1996 (69th) Juliette Binoche - "The English Patient"
1995 (68th) Mira Sorvino - "Mighty Aphrodite"
1994 (67th) Dianne Wiest - "Bullets over Broadway"
1993 (66th) Anna Paquin - "The Piano"
1992 (65th) Marisa Tomei - "My Cousin Vinny"
1991 (64th) Mercedes Ruehl - "The Fisher King"
1990 (63rd) Whoopi Goldberg - "Ghost"
posted by Cavatica at 5:25 AM on June 17, 2001

I saw the movie yesterday.

The breasts were very good. The digital effects were very good. The scenes where she was running around shooting things were usually very good.

Did I mention the breasts were very good?

But the good stuff ends there. The plot points were staggeringly illogical. The bad guy was silly. In almost every scene something totally incongruous was happening.

The movie would have been much better without the dialog and with fewer characters. Just having her run around shooting things would have been much better.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:51 AM on June 17, 2001

See the pictorial review of Tomb Raider at See the June 16 entry.
posted by fleener at 7:47 AM on June 17, 2001

BTW: An alternative review-aggregation site that beats Rotten Tomatoes in some ways:

(seen on Fred Pyen's Metascene)
posted by s.e.b. at 7:52 AM on June 17, 2001

But really, save yourself $7, look at these Rolling Stone photos and wait for video.
posted by fleener at 7:52 AM on June 17, 2001

How did they ever hide all those tattoos on Angelina's bodacious bod, anyway?

Lots of makeup. You can actually see the discolored patches on her arms in certain scenes.

As for the unreasonably large boobs: What movie did you people see? They look normal for her frame. It's her head that's too large for her body...
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:58 AM on June 17, 2001

I thought the negative reviews weren't that it was stupid, but, worse, not any fun to watch.

Roger Ebert's elder-statesman-of-reviewers mode is irritating and pompous, and his reasoning from one movie to the next is internally inconsistent. It's a pity he's so well-known, etc.
posted by Joe Hutch at 8:41 AM on June 17, 2001

Angelina Jolie speaks about Croft's boobs.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:45 AM on June 17, 2001

Also, those Rolling Stone photos are sublimely ridiculous. I highly recommend the horse or the bass-mouth ones for a good laugh.
posted by Joe Hutch at 8:51 AM on June 17, 2001

Anyone want an Angelina Jolie action figure?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:10 AM on June 17, 2001

In these days of $100million+ movies, why is it so difficult to produce plots that don't have holes you could pilot a small aircraft carrier through and dialogue you might expect a genuine human being to speak? Why don't producers spend a tiny portion of the budget, a few tens of thousands say, to employ talented writers or editors to at least read the script and make a few recommendations, especially when the potential for improvement is so apparent?

Am I just naive?
posted by normy at 10:59 AM on June 17, 2001

i don't understand how people can think that 'tomb raider' is about so-called girl power, when one woman (okay, one woman over the age of ten, but still) has a speaking part in the film.

i saw the movie for $2.75 last night -- it was part of a double feature (the weirdest shampoo ad ever, 'evolution,' was part two) at a drive-in outside of philadelphia -- and it was worth that much, i guess, but it still bothered me a lot. also how many ways could they make angelina jolie wear REALLY TIGHT WHITE SHIRTS? egad, i mean, yeah. nice job fusing the fucking/fighting expressions in that opening sequence, though.
posted by maura at 11:56 AM on June 17, 2001


1) Good dumb movies still have plots. They're just dumb plots. Not no plots.

2) Sometimes I go into a good restaurant and order a cheeseburger. I never, anywhere, order a plate of potato chips and jellybeans. In other words, I like junk food but not garbage food.

3) Please, please think really hard before you nominate "Lara Croft"™ as a feminist heroine. Perhaps think hard before you nominate any fictional character as a heroine.

4) Sexiness does not equal boobs. It takes charisma, which takes a brain and, usually, status as a living human being.
posted by argybarg at 12:01 PM on June 17, 2001

"Sexiness does not equal boobs."

GALAHAD: Bet you're gay!
LAUNCELOT: No, I'm not.

posted by y6y6y6 at 3:53 PM on June 17, 2001

"Its intent is to take a technologically advanced and visually stimulating but otherwise un-noteworthy videogame."

One thing to note about the "Tombraider" game series is that, compared to it's peers, it is perhaps 2 - 5 years behind them in terms of graphics, game engine, gameplay, and gaming innovation. A fact that is regularly noted in reviews of the game.
posted by lucien at 7:59 PM on June 17, 2001

One thing to note about the "Tombraider" game series is that, compared to it's peers, it is perhaps 2 - 5 years behind them in terms of graphics, game engine, gameplay, and gaming innovation. A fact that is regularly noted in reviews of the game.

Well, now it is. But when it first came out, it was new, had fun, innovative gameplay, and looked as good or better than any 3D game on the market. It would have been a fun game even if Lara had been replaced by some generic action-hero guy.

But Tomb Raider (and Lara in particular) was so popular, they had little incentive to advance the game, they just kept churning out sequels that were almost identical to the original game. So, yes, whatever Tomb Raider game they're selling now is 4-5 years out of date.

Heretic 2, for instance, is a similar 3rd person type of game that involves acrobatics as well as combat, but the controls are vastly easier to use, the camera doesn't get stuck in awkward angles that prevent you from seeing what you want, the graphics and animation are much better, and the gameplay is a lot more fun.
posted by straight at 8:02 AM on June 18, 2001

Slightly OT diversion: Where Are they Now, the Supporting Actress Edition.

Juliette Binoche: Nominated for Best Actress, 2000. Mira Sorvino: 27 projects since Oscar win. Dianne Wiest: Starring as DA Nora Levin on NBC's Law & Order. Anna Paquin: Just finished her freshman year at Columbia. (My alma mater, go Anna!) Marisa Tomei: Working in at least 2 indie films a year for the last 8 years. Whoopi Goldberg: 2 words - Hollywood Squares.

Not a bad thing, if you can get it.
posted by Dreama at 10:25 AM on June 18, 2001

I keep waiting for the "Raiders of the Lost Bra" headline. Still haven't seen it.

I usually just take a long movie nap between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
posted by dr. zoidberg at 11:55 AM on June 23, 2001

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