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Tomb Raider: What You Thought 2001

I liked the film. There was a good story behind the action that held your attention. The character development on some of the characters was lacking but over all not too bad. A great action film for the summer of 2001!--Nicole

The movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a movie, but it is in no way a film. It is a carefully orchestrated business venture intended for making big bucks and leaves the viewer feeling empty and unsatisfied.
The producers have succeeded in bringing the feel of a video game to the big screen...only you win the game the first time and you don't get to play. Several times I caught myself twiddling my thumbs (pretending I was holding an imaginary gamepad) hoping I could control Lara and make her do something that would make the plot of this movie less predictable and boring.
Most disturbing to me was a remark made by John Voight about this production. He said it was "pretty exciting stuff." Come on... The birthday party of thirteen-year-olds sitting in front of me was more exciting than what I was watching. It is a shame when good actors get suckered into thinking bad movies are good.
This movie is a success if it is looked at through corporate intent. As a form of intelligent entertainment it is an insult to anyone with an IQ over 70, let alone an astute (archaeology) society based on intellect. 2 stars--Rob, Ontario, Canada

A very poor movie. This was more about special effects and seeing Angelina Jolie running around in very little clothing. Poor plot development and a story line that was predictable from the first one minute of the film. There were absolutely no archaeological features in any part of the movie; tomb raiding was given a bad name in this film. My son went to the rest room for 10 minutes and when he got back his comment was, "Well, I see that I did not miss anything." Don't waste your time or money on seeing this in the theater; wait for the video.--Bob

I think the movie was good for what it was, a big budget blockbuster. However, to portray a "tomb raider" as the hero would be more than appalling for any archaeologist.--Hilary

I saw the movie as enough like the game to not be a total loss. Good eye candy but not much of a plot.--Arthur

I walked out half way through. It was simply dreadful!--Erin

I don't think that Tomb Raider will have any effect on how archaeology is viewed. I have faith that most people can realize that it is fiction, just like Indiana Jones, or now, the Mummy (The Mummy Returns). Of course, the only issue is glorifying looting, however, I don't think that a movie or video game will persuade someone to go out and become a looter.--Melissa

The movie was not horrible. Eye candy is a good word for it. But the whole time I was thinking (and I'm not an archaeologist, but an avid reader of anything to do with archaeology), "This movie has got to make archaeologists cringe! The destruction of sites!" It was all I could think of during the whole movie. "Oh that's a shame." I can't imagine how someone whose career was in this field could handle it! Definitely a wait for video movie.--Jessica

I loved it! Knew it would be a comic book type of movie, but enjoyed the "tomb raiding" myth presented in the way we have relished since the publicity surrounding Tut's Tomb. I used to watch serials in the 40's built around exploration of "lost" archaelogical sites, and loved all the films through the Mummy movies up to the Raiders of the Lost Ark series. No danger of training a generation to despoil sites by watching such films, while we generate an interest which might otherwise be undeveloped in new viewers. We need more romanticization of the past, with as liberal a sprinkling of fact as we can foster. Go, Lady Croft!--Jim

I took my 11-year-old son to see Lara Croft Tomb Raider. He knows the game, so I thought he would be the perfect critic. He quite enjoyed it. So did I. To me she was a poshy, English accented female version of Indiana Jones. I thought Ben Mendolsen and Rimmer (Red Dwarf) were well suited to their parts. Most impressive I thought were the ruined temples (Cambodia?) with the gigantic tree roots growing throughout. Overall a nice piece of escapism.--Veronica

I was expecting a lot of special effect and eye candy, and a fairly predictable plot. Even so, I was disappointed. Without giving anything away, if the heroine or anyone around her had been paying attention, they would have realized that she could have stopped the baddies at about the 50-minute mark. She's no Indiana Jones.--Rebecca

OK, I'm an old fogey, about John Voight's age. But I liked some things about the film. The scenes in Angkor were excellent, at least until I get to actually go there. And Jolie obviously worked hard to get her action scenes right. Likewise, the cinematography is fine.
But the plot! The astronomy in it is pure hooey: planets don't really line up like that, eclipses don't cause catastrophes, etc. And can you really imagine someone with all Lara Croft's money and power wanting to do her main observing from a lowland site in Britain? And what about the building-sized orrery - how did the Illuminati keep it in working (or at least workable) order for 5000 years? Come to think of it, if they are the biological and/or financial descendants of the inhabitants of the ruined city, and they knew when the alignment time was coming again, couldn't they have trained some of their own people to be "tomb raiders" rather than hire a not-too-reliable professional at the last minute?
I guess I better comment on the "archaeology" in the film. Don't most expeditions have more than a week or two to organize? Wasn't she lucky to just happen to take along exactly the right equipment for both Cambodia and Iceland. And only a few (admittedly highly trained) asistants to take care of everything she couldn't personally. Oh, how will she do a report on the results and findings: I didn't see much in the way of camcorders, cameras, or notepads (electronic or paper). Or sample bags for any fragments of the amazing animated statues. I guess we aren't supposed to worry about the poor souls who will try to thwart the Illuminati 5000 years hence.
In some ways this film is a real-world pothunter's or artifact-snatcher's wildest fantasy come true: get a unique object with enormous value, while smashing everything in sight and blowing any opposition away, all with no consequences. My conclusions: fun, yes; fantasy, yes; dangerous, probably.--James

I really loved the movie! I know it wasn't realistic, but it brought to my mind Indiana Jones, my other "archaeology" hero. But this time it's a girl and she doesn't fall down to men. I know this movie isn't close to what archaeology is, but it romanticizes history and discovery of ancient artifacts.--Rian

Movie: too much martial arts & shoot 'em up with not enough plot and little real character. Light and fluffy stuff that makes Indiana Jones look like a serious archaeologist. The ancient evil theme is wearing a bit thin. It is too bad we cannot just learn the lessons of, and about, the past without having to invest it with semi-mystical nonsense.--John

This movie was a whole lot of noise and visuals and the plot--full of holes! However, some of my teenage male peers found a "chest" full of interest on this dig. This just isn't my kind of movie. I'd rather kiss the "mummy," thanks.--Shiloh

This movie was ok as far as movies go. It needs to be analysed for what it was meant to achieve and that is the transference from a game to movie which I think they did quite well, with the exception of the ridiculously large breasts on Angelina. As far as the archaeology side of it goes, anything that takes this discipline from the in-house scholarly arena into the average persons vocabulary has got to be a positive thing. It depicts the study as being exciting which is what archaeologists and students like myself have known about for years. The study of ancient civilizations is amazing stuff and even if this movie contains a somewhat corny and far from accurate account of this it is better than expecting people to dust off the books in the classics and archaeology section of the local library and try to gain peoples interest that way.
Bring it on Lara, Indiana, and all the Mummy crew.--Joanne

My thoughts on the movie were simply that Lara gives young girls the hope that, even in a man's world playing a man's game, they can be better under pressure and strain than any man. She shows young women how you can beat them at their own game and still play like a girl.--Amanda

I'm not an archaeologist yet, but I couldn't help thinking, "What a shame." This movie was definitely overrated.--Rachel


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© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America
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