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When an earthquake opens an ancient underwater collection of antiquities and reveals a unique orb with secret codes, professional tomb raider and multiskilled adventurer Lady Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) is asked by The Queen, via England’s MI6, to find the original Pandora’s Box, believed to hold the most powerful evil force the world has ever known. Once in the possession of Alexander the Great, it’s now hidden in a dreadful place in Africa, and the Nobel Prize winning scientist, now a manaiac, Dr Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds) will stop at nothing to get his hands on it for his evil ambitions.

Review by Louise Keller:
There’s even more Lara in the Special Collector’s DVD, including a ten minute featurette that canvasses Angelina Jolie’s extensive training. (“So many of the fights were too easy last time,” she says). Riding horses side saddle, jet skiing, archery, hand-to-hand combat… Jolie makes it look so easy. There’s more about the stunts, visual effects and weapons, plus Jan De Bont’s commentary, music videos and deleted/alternate scenes.

But first, the movie. There’s a real sense of adventure about Lara Croft in this new adventure, and one of the best things about it are the fabulous locations that Lara drops into. And I mean that literally, as the goddess of video games zooms on water, dives through the sky, swims with the sharks and flies through the sky wearing bird-like wing suits which open up as parachutes close to the ground. 

Even though there are plenty of special effects to drool about, the film feels more like an Indiana-Jones style adventure with its character-driven story, than one that relies solely on its special effects. We visit a distinctive island in Greece (where the movie begins), the mystic wonders of the Great Wall of China, breathe in the hustle and bustle of the skyscrapers of Hong Kong and the breathtaking wonders of the wildlife in Kenya, where giraffes, elephants, flamingos and monkeys invite us into their habitat. Of course, much of the success of the Lara Croft movie franchise depends on its stunning leading lady, and Angelina Jolie dazzles with her curvaceous, statuesque beauty, her very English persona and endless gumption as she tackles stunts of the allsorts variety wholeheartedly. 

Director Jan De Bont (Speed) keeps his foot on the accelerator, and according to second unit director Simon Crane, Jolie could get ‘serious employment as a stunt performer…she’s extremely fit and because she wanted to do just about everything.’ Lara might be a lady by name, but when it comes to adventuring, there’s nothing holding her back. From pole-vaulting up to air-borne helicopters, galloping side-saddle and thumping a shark in the mouth, she packs a pretty punch and her kicks are high, accurate and impressive. When it comes to her sense of romance, who can guess the consequences when Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler, appealing) murmurs ‘You can break my wrist, but I’m still gonna kiss you.’ The story of Pandora’s box (‘The Greek Myth? That’s the Sunday School version’) is unbelievable of course, but the stunts just keep flying and Lara looks glamorous whether it’s in her skimpy-topped bathers, clingy silver wet suit, Chinese pyjamas or safari gear. 

Good to see Noah Taylor back as Lara’s nerdy assistant, and there’s a funny moment when his Bryce misunderstands the hospitality of the Masi tribe to his detriment. When Lara descends by parachute through the sky and accurately negotiates her way into the jeep that is being driven by Kosa (Djimon Hounsou, enigmatic), Kosa exclaims ‘Won’t you ever do anything the easy way?’ to which Lara replies ‘I wouldn’t want to disappoint you.’ No, you haven’t disappointed us Lara – it’s been a treat. And as the jeep drives into the sunset, we are left with a spectacular shot of the African landscape leaving us with the smell of adventure.

Published March 4, 2004

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CAST: Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Ciarán Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Djimon Hounsou, Til Schweiger, Simon Yam, Terence Yin

DIRECTOR: Jan de Bont

SCRIPT: Dean Georgaris (story by Steven E. de Souza, James V. Hart)

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

PRESENTATION: Dolby Digital; widescreen enhanced for 16: 9; English 5.1 surround

SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by Jan De Bont; deleted/alternate scenes (with optional commentary); featurettes; screen test; music videos


DVD RELEASE: March 4, 2004

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