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Still shot from the movie: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Even if you don't purchase videogames, chances are you'll recognize Lara Croft.

Overall Grade: C-
Violence: D+
Sexual Content: C-
Language: B
Drugs/Alcohol: B-
Release Date: 15 Jun 2001
Run Time: 100
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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In-Depth Review

Even if you don't purchase videogames, chances are you'll recognize Lara Croft. As heroine of the Tomb Raider series since 1996, it's hard to miss her protruding "assets" embossed on box covers aimed (like the gun she's always holding) squarely at the hormonally charged male teenage gaming market.

A wealthy heiress, whilst between her tomb raiding escapades, Lara (Angelina Jolie) wanders about her humongous mansion practicing her fighting skills against some nasty robots her techno-friend Bryce (Noah Taylor) has developed. She also maintains her poise doing a "Bungee Ballet" (an experience to behold) where she suspends herself on a harness in her huge foyer. But even all this wealth and physical power can't make up for the loss of her father, Lord Richard Croft (Jon Voight), who mysteriously disappeared years ago.

Yet after discovering a curious looking key inside a strange clock, it appears Lord Croft had left a special assignment for his daughter. Trusting a friend of the family to help her unlock the secret, she instead finds herself forced to fight the leader of a secret society who is assisted by a former tomb-raiding colleague, in a race that will provide the winner with the power to control time.

Not the type of girl to beat around the bush, Lara shoots from the hip... usually with both hands. Always carrying a couple of high-powered handguns, she fires first and rarely asks questions later... besides, there's usually not enough time before the next enemy stands in her path. With violent scenes making up the vast majority of screen-time, there is little opportunity for profanities or sex--although Lara packs a different type of heat when she shows off her naked back and side after a relaxing shower.

Shot on location in Iceland and Cambodia, and on huge sets constructed at Pinewood Studios in England, the movie offers lush images and an intriguing premise -- anyone who could rule time would rule the world. But with the exception of her feelings toward her father, there's no love lost in this movie, which depicts shooting and violence, as sexy, stylish, and bloodless.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Overall: C-
This slick production boasts gorgeous sets and real world locations providing a feast for the eyes along with an interesting story premise. Unfortunately its heroine, like the videogame character upon which she’s based, is always packing pistols and a litany of other weapons which are used repeatedly throughout the movie without regard for consequences.

Violence: D+
Menacing robotic monster attacks woman on several occasions, woman pulls out guns and shoots at it. Robot crushed under stone pillar. Robot with saws and other cutting instruments attempts to attack woman’s neck. Woman has nightmare, suddenly awakens and pulls out a knife. Woman knocks out a wall. Depictions of dangerous driving on a motorcycle. Men break into home to attack woman, beginning an extended sequence where many shots are fired, people fall to floor, others crushed against stone walls, and woman engages in hand-to-hand combat with many of these men. Woman uses power tool to shoot man. Man sets off bomb in house. Woman driving motorcycle shoots a man. Woman uses gun to hit man. Woman drives motorcycle into man. Man steals object. Woman falls into pit. Men shoot at woman. Statues come to life, men and woman shoot at them causing them to crumble. Woman chased by large statue-like beast. Woman fires two semi-automatic pistols at beast. Woman begins shooting pistols at another large multi-armed statue/beast with swords. Woman uses stone pillar to kill stone beast. Lizard-like creature chases woman. Man crushed by machine. Two men knocked into water. Man knifed in throat. Woman accidentally cuts herself on knife blade—blood seen. Man shot in head—no blood. Woman and man hold guns to each other. Woman and man fight brutal hand-to-hand battle, the man is killed. Guns presented on a silver platter.

Sexual Content: C-
Glimpses of woman in shower, back and shoulders exposed with fuller body shots obscured through glass and curtains. Woman walks out of shower wearing only a towel, drops towel in front of man—we see her upper back and the sides of her breasts. In a later unrelated scene a man exits shower and is seen naked except for his genitals which are covered from our view by an obstacle, woman walks into room and makes comment alluding to him being sexually aroused by her presence.

Language: B
At least: 3 moderate profanities, 3 mild profanities, 3 terms of Deity used as profanities or exclamations.

Alcohol / Drug Use: B-
Man seen with bottle that looks like wine or other alcoholic beverage. Man offers drink of Port, and drinks some himself. Man smokes cigar, some background people smoke.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

There is very little blood in Tomb Raider, even though many people are shot and/or injured through various means. Yet the one time blood is on the screen, it is from our heroine, Lara who unintentionally cuts herself with a knife while trying to save someone else. Why would the creators choose to show blood only this time, when it is a relatively minor injury compared to the many others that have been depicted? What is the effect on the audience when they see Lara bleed?

Lara’s actions promote many different messages. Consider what she says about:
Women... Are women (or anyone for that matter) able to defend themselves like Lara can?
Guns... What does this movie say about guns and the consequences of their use?
Colonialism... The British characters in this movie go to other countries with little regard for their cultures or customs. Even Lara’s “occupation”—a tomb raider—necessitates robbing historical sites of their antiquities. What does this movie “say” about preserving culture and respecting the rights of individual societies?

Video alternatives

Looking for other adventures in dusty tombs? We’ve reviewed The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. The sequel to this movie is Lara Croft: The Cradle of Life

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: Lara Croft Tomb Rader / Lara Croft Cradle of Life

Release Date: 15 July 2014

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft: Cradle of Life release to home video as a Double Feature (Blu-ray).

DVD Notes: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Release Date: 13 November 2001

  • Production company: Paramount Pictures
  • Package type: Keep case
  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1
  • DVD encoding: Region 1
  • Available audio tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English & French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround).
  • Available subtitles: English. DVD Extras:
    • Deleted scenes
    • Cast & crew interviews (Digging Into Tomb Raider)
    • Commentary by director Simon West
    • Angelina Jolie’s physical training (Crafting Lara Croft)
    • Stunts and Visual Effects of Tomb Raider
    • The Tomb Raider videogame phenomenon (Are You Game?)
    • Music video - U2’s Elevation (Tomb Raider mix)
    • Tomb Raider timeline
    • Game demo (Tomb Raider Chronicles)
    • Website archive

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    About the Reviewer: Rod Gustafson

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