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
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