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Film Review for June 29th
Tomb Raider
Reviewed by Carla Freccero

Now playing at the Galaxy 6, Northridge Cinemas, the Skyview Drive-In, the Santa Cruz Cinema 9, Green Valley Cinemas, and the Aptos Twin, Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, is the long-awaited (because long-advertised) film version of the popular Eidos Interactive home video game featuring a stacked superheroine.  I haven’t played the game so I can’t judge the quality of the adaptation, but I can imagine that it must be more interesting to interact with than to watch.  The story goes like this:  Lara, who is inexplicably English, lost her father a while back (Jon Voight, Jolie’s real dad, plays Lara’s father in the movie), and she misses him terribly.  She lives in a mansion with a muscular butler and a geek scientist who insists on living in an X-file-ish trailer adjoining the mansion.  There’s about to be a planetary alignment (according to the movie, this occurs once every 5,000 years or so).  Lara learns through a series of clues her dead father left her that there’s a key that will unlock the doors to two halves of a triangle which, when joined, will give their possessor the power to control time.  The uniting of the triangle can only take place, however, during this rare alignment.  Lara’s job is to find these triangles and destroy them because a secret society, called the Illuminati, is trying to get there first.  This sets the game in motion.  On the way, our heroine--a girl hybrid of Indiana Jones and James Bond—encounters a series of obstacles, which she overcomes, and faces an emotional challenge, her desire to be reunited with her father and the impossibility of “going back.”

Now, the triangle should give it all away:  like every mainstream coming-of-age adolescent fairy tale, this one is about Oedipus, or the mommy-daddy-me triangle.  You’ll notice that the Mom part of this one is missing, dead long before the movie’s inception and the father’s disappearance.  So this one has already accomplished one part of the jealous girl-child’s wish fulfillment by taking the mother out of the picture.  That leaves dad, and Lara’s one colossal act of misbehavior involves attempting to get him back by improper means.  What this growing up story teaches is that the father is forever out of reach (he keeps telling her “no’) and that the daughter’s got to follow the right path into the future and give up her desire to “go back” or regress.  Banal enough, n’est-ce pas? 

I would have preferred Demi Moore or Pamela Lee Anderson in the Lara Croft role; the former has the muscles and the latter has, well, you know.  But to the target audience, these other women would be more like Moms, if not practically grandmothers.  And Angelina Jolie has that slender boyishness that makes her both an object of identification for the boys as well as an object of desire.  And in fact, that’s what’s kind of interesting about the film:  it creates a heroine that is both a girl and a boy.  Cute, vulnerable, and sexy, she is a girl the boys want.  Tough, invincible, and a skilled fighter, she is the boy they imagine themselves to be.  There are no other girls in this movie:  her buddies are boys and her enemies are men:  one, the truly evil one, who does something unforgivable; the other, the one Croft does choose to revive when her dad says she can’t have him back.  Oedipus complete:  little boy learns that he can’t have his mom but he can grow up to have a woman like her; little girl learns she can’t have her dad but she can grow up to have someone kind of like him.

But I don’t think we needed all those special effects just to deliver that plot.  Looking for trouble at the movies, for KUSP and the film gang, this is Carla Freccero.

Copyright Carla Freccero 2001