Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Let's face facts: If the code spuds who designed the Tomb Raider computer game back in the mid-'90s had rendered its titular heroine, Lara Croft, with a set of slightly less-perky-than-average B cups, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider would be a $20 million straight-to-video girl-power version of Street Fighter: The Movie starring Bridget Fonda instead of an $80 million-plus, multiplex-jamming, full-court-marketing-attack summer action spectacle starring the pneumatic Angelina Jolie. In this case, however, the adolescent mammary fixation shared by the video-game industry and Hollywood pays off somewhat. Jolie kicks ass as Lara Croft, though the rest of the movie has trouble filling out its sweater.
The actress' voluptuousness lives up to her two-dimensional forerunner's, and in case you missed it, director Simon West (the auteur behind such big-time summer crap as Con Air and The General's Daughter) highlights her breasts so prominently that they deserve their own line in the credits. But Jolie throws herself into each and every post-Matrix punch, kick, leap, swoop, fusillade, and slightly arch line delivery with a convincing verve and gusto. Jolie has tended to overpower most of the roles she's had, but this Indiana Jones with ovaries fits her as snugly as the wardrobe. And unlike most male action heroes, Lara has fun doing what she does; when Jolie lets loose a smirk or a wicked giggle in the middle of some outrageous stunt, her delight is infectious.
Sad to say, the rest of Tomb Raider doesn't live up to Jolie's marquee power. When it comes to fleshing out the character of Lara, the best the six writers credited with the story and screenplay (including West himself) could do is to give her a daddy complex about her late father (Jolie's real-life dad Jon Voight, stunt-cast and doing his best Obi-Wan Kenobi). The film zooms from Thailand to Iceland and one over-the-top action sequence to another as Lara scrambles to get an all-powerful artifact before the bad guys do. But all West and company can offer as an arch-nemesis is a wealthy lawyer (Iain Glen) with a thing for silk damask (ooh, hold me, I'm scared). The film's attempt to provide Lara with a love interest (a rival archeologist played by the curiously ratlike Daniel Craig) is similarly half-baked and unconvincing. At one point late in the going, Lara's tech-nerd assistant, Bryce (Shine's Noah Taylor as the lone realistic human male), grumbles that his ass has fallen asleep. Unless you're a 13-year-old, you'll probably know exactly what he means.