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Lady Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) travels to exotic and dangerous locales in search of tombs and relics of lost civilizations.  As the first interplanetary alignment in 5000 years approaches, Lara Croft faces her greatest challenge. Her mission is to recover two halves of an ancient metallic triangle hidden in underground chambers in Cambodia and Siberia. With the guidance of letters written by her late father, Lord Croft (Jon Voight), Lara sets out to recover the artifact which grants its holder the power to rule time. Along the way she faces dangerous opposition from of Manfred Powell (Iain Glen), an agent in the employ of The Illuminata, a sinister secret society determined top possess the artifact at any cost. And not even Bryce (Noah Taylor), Lara’s erstwhile electronics assistant can help when the ancient forces are unleashed.

Driven by adrenaline and libido in equal measure, Lara Croft’s first on screen adventure is a triumph for Angelina Jolie, who not just fits the role but assumes it with authority. And of course, Lady Croft is the embodiment of a heroine for an electronic age. Not because she is so high tech herself but because she is playful in war, tackling mysteries with a naïve bravado. Just like us and computers. The plot is pretty well off the mega-adventure-with-mystic-overtones shelf, but the personality of the heroine is what matters. Not counting its weak and phutty ending, the film is highly competently made, and boasts two significant Australian elements: Peter Menzies jnr on the camera, and Noah Taylor as a gizmo creating electronics nerd.

And what a perfect film to transfer to DVD, with its whizz bang electronic gadgety menus, superbly designed and given their own sound scape, and with a mass of extras that will keep you indoors for hours. Start with the stunts, perhaps? Where Angelina Jolie does her own; like the bungee ballet. This 10 minute piece has a lot of B roll as well as clips, plus interview grabs. Excellent value.

The biggest item here is the half hour doco, Digging Into Tomb Raider, with cast and crew interviews (and rather too many clips from the film – this is more suitable for a tv show, which of course is what it was intended to be.) But the most interesting for movie effects buffs are the eight visual effect featurettes. The filmmakers generously explain how each of these are created. Like the knife that is captured by Lara mid-flight – she’s in fast/real time while the baddie is slowed down. She takes the knife and, with some effort and blood, turns it back against him. The stone monkeys that come to life make a great story, too.

The U2 music video (Elevation) is also pretty cool – great effects. But for something really different, Angelina Jolie’s three month training for the role has been documented in this 7 minute doco. Everything from diet to gym to military weapons training. It’s the one place where human flesh takes pride of place and is the only effect.

In the director’s commentary, Simon West explains (amongst many, many, many other things!) why he cast Noah Taylor as Lara’s electronics geek: he had seen Noah in Shine and thought the Australian actor would bring something different to the role. Like all good commentaries, West’s is relaxed and personal, off the cuff and interesting. He is not a showman, but he shows that even an earnest Englishman can be fascinating when given a chance.

There is info here both trivial and large, and an alternative opening sequence (glad they discarded it) and some deleted scenes. My only quibble with the whole DVD is the lack of commentary with these; it’s never very illuminating just to show them without a few words about why there were shot – and then deleted.

The eight minute Are You Game feature takes us through the evolution from game to movie. Like the rest of this package, the production values are excellent and the information bundled in easy to digest packs, fully visualised and set against highly energised music. It’s a disc for the high octane crowd.

In a way, Lara Croft goes full circle on DVD: from computer generated heroine in a digital world, to a digitised live action heroine on the tv screen. It’s a blast.
Andrew L. Urban

Published December 13, 2001

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interview by Jenny Cooney
PETER MENZIES JNR interview by Andrew L. Urban


(Rental only; to own release April 2002)

CAST: Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor

DIRECTOR: Simon West

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Home Video

DVD RELEASE: Dec 14, 2001

Cast and crew interviews featuring Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, director Simon West and more.
Angelina Jolie's training program to play Lara Croft.
Shows how the film's breathtaking stunts were created; featuring interviews with stunt co-ordinator Simon Crane, special effects supervisor Chris Corebould, Angelina Jolie and Simon West.
Behind the scenes with visual effects supervisor Steven Begg. How the filmmakers created the film's eight most memorable sequences shot by shot.
Explores the background and the evolution of the game, using footage from each Tomb Raider game to date. Featuring interviews with Angelina Jolie, Simon West, exec producer Jeremy Heath-Smith, core designer Adrian Smith and Mike McGarvey from Eidos.
PLUS: Deleted scenes, Director's Commentary by Simon West, U2 Music video, Alternative Main Title sequence, DVD Rom Features including Tomb Raider timeline, Tomb Raider Chronicles Game Demo (3 levels), Web Site Archive, On-line Components (extended IPIX gallery), Interactive Menus, Scene Selection

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