Franchise Weekend – Lara Croft Tomb Raider (2001) Revisited

This is a revisited review, I first did this as one of my very first reviews in 2012.

 

Director: Simon West

Writer: Patrick Massett, John Zinman (Screenplay) Sara B Cooper, Mike Werb, Michael Colleary (Story)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, Daniel Craig, Chris Barrie, Leslie Phillips

 

Plot: Video game adventurer Lara Croft comes to life in a movie where she races against time and villains to recover powerful ancient artefacts.


Tagline – Who Is Lara Croft?

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Pure Fun

 

Story: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starts on the anniversary of Lara Croft’s (Jolie) father death, with a once in a lifetime planetary alinement happening, Lara just so happens to discover the all seeing eye in her mansion and now she is involved in an adventure she is interested in. Lara’s connection lead her to Manfred Powell (Glen) a man assigned to locate the eye for secret society that want to use its powers for their own desires.

Once Manfred takes the artefact, Lara must go on adventure showing her tomb raiding skills hoping to stop them powerful device causing havoc on the world.

 

Thoughts on Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

 

Characters – Lara Croft lifted straight from the video game, the Lady of Croft Manor, she has found treasures all over the world becoming slightly bored of the popular location, getting a hidden message from her later father Lara’s interest spikes and soon she will be battle a secret society that are using her latest discovery to hopefully control time. We know she is the kick ass action heroine from the video games, calm through each situation, competitive rivalry with Alex West and the best in her field. Lord Richard Croft had died before the story starts, he appears in dreams guiding Lara as he was the one that trained her, he started learning about this event long before it started. Manfred Powell is hired by an underground society that want control of time, he will do anything to get what he wants to prove his value to the society and doesn’t lift a finger when it comes to searching for treasure. Alex West is the American rival to Lara, he works for money over desire to find treasure even if the two do just have an honest rivalry. Bryce and Hillary are the two most trusted people in Lara’s life, one works on her tech while the other looks after the manor.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie was the perfect choice in the year 2001 for this role, she was the best action heroine for the time, had the look of Lara Croft down to perfection as well as the swagger filled attitude. Jon Voight while only in a couple of scenes is good as the father figure needed for Lara. Iain Glen is good as the calculated villain who can kill just as quickly as Lara, he shows the calmness through the film to stay a threat in the film. Daniel Craig as the rival tomb raider is fine, his accent is his weakness though. Noah Taylor and Chris Barrie get most of the laughs which keeps the story on a lighter note.

StoryThe story gives us one of Lara Croft adventures as a Tomb Raider against the Illuminati. The story shows us an established Lara, accepting her place in the high society with connections in the antique world, we see she is trained in combat and this helps us get right into the story. the story shows us how Lara is almost bored of the generic treasure hunts and this knew one sparks her interest once again. When it comes to the story it unfolds as you would imagine, going from one location to the next location for the next chapter of the adventure as we get the different parts to complete the quest.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is set pieces set up on the different adventures Lara is on, be it in the tombs or in the manor which get bigger as the film goes on.

SettingsThe settings take us from the manor, to the tombs in the jungle and Siberia as well as Venice. Each place would be where you could imagine Lara going on her adventures.

Special EffectsThe effects are a mix of good and bad, for the time however they would have been excellent to watch, with the stone figures in the tomb sequence.


Scene of the Movie –
First Tomb sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain effects have dated.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun action adventure bring to life one of the most iconic video game characters in Lara Croft.

 

Overall: Action adventure worth watching.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Zoolander (2001)

Director: Ben Stiller

Writer: Ben Stiller, Drake Sather, John Hamburg (Screenplay)

Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor, Will Ferrell, Milla Jovovich, Jerry Stiller, David Duchovny, Jon Voight

 

Plot: At the end of his career, a clueless fashion model is brainwashed to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia.


Tagline – 3% Body Fat. 1% Brain Activity.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Still Funny

 

Story: Zoolander starts when world famous model Derek Zoolander (Stiller) loses his title of Best Male Model to Hansel (Wilson) the new hip model that is one with the world. looking to find himself in the world, he first tries to return home, to his coal mining family, but after.

When that doesn’t go to plan the controversial fashion design Mugatu (Ferrell) hires him for his latest line, only for him to be selected to kill the Malaysian Prime Minister that has abolished the child labour laws. Derek must team up with Hansel to stop this happening.    

 

Thoughts on Zoolander

 

Characters – Derek Zoolander is the world’s most famous male model, he has nearly zero brain intelligence relying on his one look to keep him on top. His career has started to go downhill with new model Hansel coming into the business, which leads to Mugatu brainwashing him into assassinate the Prime Minister Malaysia. Hansel is the new model on the block, he has taken Derek’s crown as best male model, he is very out there with his worldly ideas to everything, relaxed in each moment. He is a rival to Derek in the fashion world. Matilda is a reporter that has been working on stories around Derek, she learns that there is a bigger conspiracy going on and joins forces with Derek to solve the situation. Mugatu is the fashion designer that has been hosting shows with his models taking out problems to the fashion world

PerformancesBen Stiller was on his best form when it comes to full comedy here, he commits to this role to get the full comical levels needed. Owen Wilson is great too because you can see him as this trippy like model that only he can do. Christine Taylor works well in her role getting the serious side of the story over while the rest handle the comedy. Will Ferrell seems to have his first wildly over the top character here and it works for the whole film.

StoryThe story takes us into the world of male modelling, I still believe this might be the only one to do that. We have the idea that the powers that be are controlling governments to keep money pouring into the industry through illegal activities and now they are facing the need to eliminate a threat which brings in models, a disposable figure to do the murdering, this idea is as wild as it sounds, but it works go well on this level because it keeps everything feeling fresh and adds to the comical side to the story.

ComedyThe comedy is mostly poking fun at the idea of the intelligence levels of models, we have always had jokes at the women models being dumb, this focuses on the male models being dumb.

SettingsMostly set in and around New York, the film uses the settings to keep us in the busy fashion capital of America, which is where the story needs to be told from.


Scene of the Movie –
Getting in the computer.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain jokes no longer work for political correct behaviour.

Final ThoughtsThis is a funny comedy that has still lasted the test of time, the jokes mostly hit and the character is strangely still one of Stiller’s most iconic figures in modern comedy.

 

Overall: Funny throughout.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – E – Exit Wounds (2001)

Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak

Writer: Ed Horowitz, Richard D’Ovidio (Screenplay) John Westermann (Novel)

Starring: Steven Seagal, DMX, Isaiah Washington, Anthony Anderson, Michael Jai White, Bill Duke, Jill Hennessy, Tom Arnold

 

Plot: Orin Boyd, a tough cop in an inner-city precinct discovers a web of dirty cops and corruption.


Tagline – This Is Gonna Hurt

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Seagal Action 101

 

Story: Exit Wounds starts when tough police officer Orin Boyd (Seagal) prevents an assassination attempt on the Vice President against orders from his superiors and Secret Service. This loses him his job at his prescient and being sent to a rougher one where new Captain Annette Mulcahy (Hennessy) sends him anger management.

When Orin starts investigating a known gangster Latrell Walker (DMX) he is assigned a partner in George Clark (Washington) and the two only honest sounding cops trying to bring him down and uncover the dirty cops in the force.

 

Thoughts on Exit Wounds

 

Characters – Orin Boyd is a tough no nonsense cop that will always run in first to do the right thing for people in danger, he doesn’t like dirty cops or criminals or partners and will go all out to bring down the criminals. Latrell Walker is the criminal that Orin is tracking, he is a genius, but not everything about what we learn about him is what it seems on the outside. George Clark is the partner that gets forced onto him, he has a family and just wants to do the right thing but could easily be another one of the dirty cops. We do meet plenty of cops that are dirty through the film, we see many different clichés for the genre in our characters too.

PerformancesWe know what Steven Seagal is capable of as an actor, he can handle the fighting fine, but when it comes to the line delivery he isn’t the best, this is typical for what we know about him. DMX was trying to make an acting career and he does show promise in a time when all musicians seemed to want to get into acting. When we look at the rest of the cast they are what we need in the film without anyone standing out too much, Anthony Anderson gets the funniest moments in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a tough cop trying to bring down criminals and corruption from within the force. This does play into Seagal’s strengths where he gets to beat people up and be the good guy doing this. We have a big third act twist which does turn the film on its head and doesn’t really get implied early on which is nice. By the end this will have checked the boxes for a fun easy to watch action film and that is all we want from a story at times

Action/Comedy/CrimeThe action is short fight sequences, shootouts and chases sequences which are fun to watch with plenty going on through them making the action all we want. The comedy is in small moments and does give a couple of laughs with Anderson being the one with the most. The crime world we enter is everything we know when it comes to corrupt cops which is fine for the film.

SettingsThe film brings us to Detroit with crime running through it, we know it is generic for crime world, so this works for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Seagal versus White sword fighting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The comedy works, but can takeaway from the main story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard Seagal action film, it is easy to watch and will keep you entertained throughout.

 

Overall: Simple to watch action film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – S – Spy Game (2001)

Director: Tony Scott

Writer: Michael Frost Beckner, David Arata (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert Redford, Brad Pitt, Catherine McCormack, Stephen Dillane, Larry Bryggman

 

Plot: Retiring CIA agent Nathan Muir recalls his training of Tom Bishop while working against agency politics to free him from his Chinese captors.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Spin on the Thriller

 

Story: Spy Game starts as CIA spy Tom Bishop (Pitt) gets captured in China on his latest mission, back home America is panicking with his retiring former handler Nathan Muir (Redford) bought into the fold to learn about his character.

Nathan finds himself being interviewed to understand the mentality Tom has, which leads to flashbacks as we learn about how Tom was recruited and his ability to make new assets as we go through the cases he worked on with Nathan. This all goes into the race against time to make the decision on whether to trade or leave Tom to rot in Chinese jail.

 

Thoughts on Spy Game

 

Characters/PerformanceNathan Muir has worked a decorated career for the CIA handling spies searching for assets around the world. He is about to retire but his last day he must do everything to save one of his best recruits Tom Bishop. Tom Bishop is the spy that has been captured on his latest mission, we learn through the film just how skied his ability as a spy was as we also learn his strengths and weaknesses. Elizabeth Hadley has a past with Tom which might be the reason why everything has gone down.

Performance wise, Robert Redford and Brad Pitt are both great throughout showing us just how the two can play the mentor student kind of relationship through the film.

StoryLooking at the story we get to see how a mentor in the CIA must recount his relationship with one of his best student turned spy, this gives us a nice mix between training even when Tom is experienced in the field and seeing how Nathan is looking back at his career. We also have enough spy material to keep us on edge throughout.

Action/Crime/ThrillerThe action in this film is very calm, it is the thrilling side of everything that keeps us on the edge of our seats as we are left to wonder if there is a crime going on or not.

SettingsThe settings show us just how the world of spies can be left open to anything and everything.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good thriller that keeps us on edge through the whole film with great performance from Redford through the film.

 

Overall: One for the thriller fans to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – V – Vanilla Sky (2001)

Director: Cameron Crowe

Writer: Cameron Crowe (Screenplay) Alejandro Amenabar, Mateo Gil (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, Timothy Spall, Tilda Swinton, Michael Shannon

 

Plot: A self-indulgent and vain publishing magnate finds his privileged life upended after a vehicular accident with a resentful lover.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Trippy Fantasy Thriller

 

Story: Vanilla Sky starts as we meet David Aames (Cruise) a playboy publishing mogul that inherited this from his father. He sleeps with beautiful women including actress Julie Gianni (Diaz) but always finds time for his best friend Brian Shelby (Lee). But, his life has been shattered thanks to a car accident which has left him disfigured hiding behind a mask in jail.

While waiting for his hearing David recounts the events which led up to his charges to McCabe (Russell). We learn how David meets Sofia Serrano (Cruz) the woman of his dreams but Julie shows her jealous side causing a car crash which leaves him broken and living between reality and dreams, needing to face his new life.

 

Thoughts on Vanilla Sky

 

Characters/PerformanceDavid lived a life where he could have any women living the life of luxury until this lifestyle catches up with him, leaving him disfigured and in jail, recounting the events between the two moments. Sofia is the new love that David falls for, she has all the chemistry he requires for something different being the motivation for David to fix himself. Julie is the jealous former lover that causes the accident, she is an actress that is filled with self-confidence but all that isn’t everything we have come to know.

Performance wise, Tom Cruise is great in the leading role, not being afraid to make himself slightly disfigured for this role. Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz are both are both also great in the roles of the two women in David’s life.

StoryIn a story that leaves you questioning nearly everything going on even after you believe you have just worked everything out, well this story will keep you all over the place. I do think this does enough to keep us guessing without becoming tiring and will completely satisfied by the end.

Fantasy/Mystery/RomanceThe fantasy world created comes through in the end and it will leave you shocked with the outcome of the film, getting to this stage we are left with a big mystery into just what has been happening with the romance being how David falls in love with Sofia.

SettingsEach setting is used well, but the truly special moment in the New York being empty looks fantastic.

Special EffectsThe effects that are used to create the disfigured looking David all come off great with the other effects all doing the required effect in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis film will test your mind which is always something we like to see in films, yes, it is a remake or reimagination but still it looks fantastic.

 

Overall: This was a true mind bender of morale decision making.

Rating