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Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Reviews

An action-packed crowd pleaser whose appeal rests primarily on the supple shoulders of Angelina Jolie, the flesh-and-blood embodiment of video game pin-up Lara Croft. For those who've been living under a rock since 1996, "Tomb Raider" is a phenomenally successful series of interactive video games built around the adventures of archeologically inclined English heiress Lara Croft, who's been uncharitably (but not inaccurately) described as Indiana Jones with booty. The movie opens as Lara, dressed in a skin-tight T-shirt and hot pants, sharpens her martial skills by sparring with a computer-controlled 'bot designed by her trusty associate, Bryce (Noah Taylor). Elsewhere in the world, sleek schemer Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) and his effete sidekick (Julian Rhind-Tutt) are looking for a mysterious key that will unlock some ancient mystery you just know bodes ill for the world. It must be found before an imminent planetary alignment that occurs only once every 5000 years. Meanwhile, Lara has a dream about her late father (Jon Voight, Jolie's real-life dad) that leads her to a strange clock hidden within the Croft mansion. The clock and the key are one and the same, so Powell's thugs steal it. Lara in turn pursues Powell and his crew — which includes her ex-boyfriend, Alex Cross (Daniel Craig) — to Cambodia's Angor Wat temple and gives them a taste of their own medicine. With time running out and the plot thickening, Lara and Powell face off over possession of an artifact that confers power over time itself. Comparisons with RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK are inevitable (there's even a nod to RAIDERS's signature gag when Lara coolly plugs a sword-twirling monster with her oversized pistol), but they're not especially enlightening. Yes, RAIDERS is wittier, but this film hardly aspires to wit. It's all about action and ogling — Jolie's boobs, butt and thighs get so much screen time they deserve their own credits. And as befits a movie based on a game in which bang-bang is paramount, the nubile Lara is pitted against everything from mercenary armies to stone monkey soldiers that come to sudden, alarming life. But the battle sequences also highlight the essential difference between movies and video games. An unskilled gamer can condemn Lara to many gruesome deaths, but in a movie there's no "Game Over" till it's over, so the mayhem is all kinetic thrills and no suspense.