Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (or simply Tomb Raider) is a 2001 adventure thriller film adapted from the Tomb Raider video game series. Directed by Simon West and starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, it was released in U.S. theaters on June 15, 2001. The film was a commercial success, although it did not fare very well critically. As of June 16, 2010 it is no longer the highest grossing video game to film adaptation worldwide, although it is still the highest grossing domestically. The worldwide record was taken by Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, which grossed $335 million worldwide as of October 10, 2010.

A sequel, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, was released in 2003.


The film opens with Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) in an Egyptian tomb, seeking a diamond at one end of a chamber. As she approaches she is attacked by a large robot. After an intense chase and battle, she disables it by ripping out its motivational circuits. She takes the diamond, which is revealed to be a memory card labeled 'Lara's Party Mix,' and inserts it into a laptop computer inside the robot, whereupon it plays music. Now it is revealed that the scene took place in a practice arena in Croft's home, and that her assistant Bryce (Noah Taylor) programmed the robot, SIMON, to challenge her in combat.

It is the day of the first phase of a planetary alignment, culminating in a solar eclipse on the Earth, which happens once every 5,000 years. In Venice, the Illuminati search for a key to rejoin halves of "the triangle," which must be done by the final phase of the alignment. Mr. Powell (Iain Glen), an Illuminati member, makes assurances that they are almost ready, but in reality he has no idea where to find the key.

Croft's butler Hillary (Chris Barrie) tries to interest her in several projects, but she ignores them. May 15, as Hillary is aware, is the day that Croft's father disappeared many years earlier. She has not recovered from his loss.

Later that night, Croft has a dream reminding her what her father said about the alignment, and an object linked to it called the Triangle of Light. Waking, she is aware of a clock ticking. Searching for it, she discovers a secret chamber with a carriage clock that had spontaneously begun ticking. Bryce probes it and discovers a strange device hidden inside the clock.

Since the device resembles a clock, Croft consults a clock expert friend of her father's, Mr. Wilson (Leslie Phillips). She believes it is connected to the "Triangle of Light," but Wilson disavows knowledge of the clock or the Triangle. Croft encounters Alex West (Daniel Craig), a fellow tomb raider with unscrupulous methods. They are attracted to each other, but Croft cannot abide his for-profit attitude. That night, Croft is contacted by Wilson, who tells her that he gave her name to a man named Manfred Powell in regards of the clock. In reality, Wilson is also a member of the Illuminati.

The next day, Croft sees Powell in his home, and shows him photographs of the clock. Later, while discussing it with Bryce, she points out that Powell was lying about his knowledge. That night, armed commandos invade the house and steal the clock despite Croft's attempts to fend them off.

The next morning, Croft receives a letter from her father, arranged to arrive after the beginning of the alignment, where he explains that the clock is the key to retrieve two halves of the mystic Triangle of Light, which is revealed to be an object of phenomenal destructive power that granted its wielder power over time and space. Initially housed in a city built by those who worshipped the object, misuse of the Triangle's power destroyed the city and so it was split into two halves; one was hidden in a tomb in Cambodia, the other half in the ruined city itself, in modern-day Siberia. Her father urges her to find and destroy both halves before the Illuminati can find it.

In Cambodia, West figures out part of the puzzle on how to retrieve the triangle half, but Croft manages to successfully grab the piece and escape the temple after fighting off and destroying a huge six-armed guardian statue.

She and Powell arrange to meet in Venice, since each of them has what the other needs to finish the Triangle. Powell proposes a partnership to find the Triangle, and informs Lara that her father was a member of the Illuminati, which she vehemently denies. Though hesitant at first, she, along with Bryce, meets with Powell for the trip to Siberia. Inside the tomb, there is a giant model of the solar system, which activates as the alignment nears completion. Croft retrieves the last half of the Triangle, but when Powell tries to complete it, the halves will not fuse. He realizes that Croft knows the solution to the puzzle, and kills West in order to persuade her to complete the Triangle to save both West's life and her father's. Croft reluctantly complies, and they then struggle for control of the Triangle, with Croft prevailing.

Croft then finds herself in a strange alternate existence facing her father Richard Croft (Jon Voight). He explains that it is a "crossing" of time and space, and urges her to destroy the Triangle instead of using it to save his life. She leaves her father and returns to the chamber, where time is slowly running backwards from the point where Powell killed West. Croft takes the knife he threw into West's chest and reverses it, then destroys the Triangle, which returns time to its normal flow and directs the knife into Powell's shoulder. The chamber begins to self-destruct, Everyone turns to leave, but Powell tells Croft that he killed her father and retrieved his pocket watch with a picture of Lara's mother inside. Croft fights him to retrieve it, killing him and escaping as the chamber comes down around her.

At the mansion, Hillary and Bryce are shocked to see Croft wearing a dress. She goes into the garden to her father's memorial, then returns inside, where Bryce has a reprogrammed SIMON, ready to challenge Croft once again. Hillary reveals a silver tray holding Croft's pistols, which she takes with a smile.



The 2001 film features Lara Croft and her father, Richard Croft, and introduces the following characters:

  • Bryce: Part of Lara's tech team, Bryce is responsible for the creation of all of Lara's latest gadgets including the robot SIMON. He accompanies Lara to Siberia in the first film, and is held hostage by Dr. Reiss in Africa during the second film. He is played by Noah Taylor.
  • Hillary: Lara's trusted butler, Hillary keeps Croft Manor in order while Lara is away on her adventures. In the first film, Hillary helps Lara fight off Powell's attack team with his shotgun, and along with Bryce is held hostage by Dr. Reiss in the second film. He is played by Chris Barrie.
  • SIMON: A robot created by Bryce that Lara uses for training at Croft Manor.
  • Alex West: A fellow tomb raider with unscrupulous methods. He and Lara share an attraction to one other, but Lara cannot abide his for-profit attitude. He is employed by Manfred Powell to help find the Triangle of Light, but his contract is terminated when Powell kills him by throwing a knife at his chest in order to get Lara to reforge the triangle. As she does so, Lara uses the artefact to rewind time and save Alex. Despite trying to get Lara to escape the collapsing tomb with him, Lara remains behind to finish Powell while he escapes. The two part ways after that. Alex West only appears in the first film and was played by Daniel Craig.
  • Manfred Powell: The main villain of the first movie, Powell is a tall, elegant looking man and is a member of the Illuminati. He was responsible for the death of Lara's father, executing him after he tried to leave the society. After he killed Lara's father he took his place in the Illuminati and sits where he used to sit. He was forced to work with Lara as they searched for the second piece of the triangle. The novelisation provides a lot more information regarding his history than the film does. He was born in Dorset and was schooled at Oxford. He became a barrister at the age of 23 and Queen's Counsel at the unheard-of age of 36. His current occupation is counsel for several banking firms and is a member of the board and ranking stockholder in a number of important multinational corporations. He has houses in London, Venice, and Washington D.C., as well as an apartment in New York. He fell in love with Venice when he travelled there as a young, impressionable lawyer. Considering this is where the Illuminati has its headquarters this could be when he was recruited. Now, he has a lot of legitimate business interests in Venice. He banks with several Swiss banks. He considers fear, far and away, to be the best motivator. He detests people that whine or have noble causes such as environmentalists. He is an expert in several unarmed combat forms. In China once, he fought with two of the world's foremost blackbelts at the same time and beat them easily. However, during the final scene of the film, Lara and Powell fought each other in a brutal fight and Lara killed him by snapping his neck. He was played by Iain Glen.
  • Distinguished Gentleman: The leader of the Illuminati. He hires Powell to retrieve the Triangle of Light and travels with the research team to Siberia, but is killed by Powell. He was portrayed by Richard Johnson.
  • Mr. Pimms: Manfred Powell's assistant. He often accompanies Powell to meetings in Venice and was part of Powell and Lara's research team in Siberia. He is played by Julian Rhind-Tutt.
  • Wilson: An old friend of the Croft family whom auctions off antiquities in London. He helps Lara in identifying a clock containing the All-Seeing Eye. In a deleted scene, Wilson is beheaded by Powell. He is played by Leslie Phillips.
  • The Soldiers: Lara receives help from a squad of troops that she seems to know well, indeed she is seen in a smiling in a photograph with them. They aid Lara in getting to Cambodia where she is able to acquire the first half of the Triangle of Light.



Tomb Raider went through many drafts and several writers, which resulted in production delays. In 1998, writer Brent V. Friedman, who had co-written Mortal Kombat: Annihilation the year before, penned an unproduced Tomb Raider script. Producer and screenwriter Steven E. de Souza, who wrote and directed the 1994 video game film Street Fighter, penned an early draft of the Tomb Raider script in 1999, but it was rejected by Paramount. The final draft of the script was attributed to five writers, including director Simon West.


Lara Croft was financed through Tele-München Gruppe (TMG), a German tax shelter. The tax law of Germany allowed investors to take an instant tax deduction even on non-German productions and even if the film has not gone into production. By selling them the copyright for $94 million and then buying it back for $83.8 million, Paramount Pictures made $10.2 million. The copyright was then sold again to Lombard Bank, a British investment group and a further $12 million was made. However, to qualify for Section 48 tax relief, the production must include some UK filming and British actors, which was acceptable for a film partially set in the United Kingdom. Presales to distributors in Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain made a further $65 million. Showtime paid $6.8 million for premium cable TV rights. In total, $94 million was put together.

The deal between Eidos, Tomb Raider's publisher, and Paramount Pictures was structured so Eidos received a single fee, but no royalties.


The film marked the feature film debut of television actor Christopher Barrie (Hillary), known for his role of "Arnold Rimmer" in the BBC science fiction comedy series Red Dwarf. Iain Glen, a Scot, adopted an English accent as Powell, whilst English actor Daniel Craig adopts an American accent for the role of Alex West. Jolie, being American herself, takes on an English accent.



The film received generally negative reviews, earning a 19% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with 29 out of 154 critics giving it a positive review with an average rating of 3.9/10. The general consensus is "Angelina Jolie is perfect for the role of Lara Croft, but even she can't save the movie from a senseless plot and action sequences with no emotional impact". A positive review came from Roger Ebert who awarded the film three out of four stars and said, "'Lara Croft Tomb Raider' elevates goofiness to an art form. Here is a movie so monumentally silly, yet so wondrous to look at, that only a churl could find fault."

Box Office Performance

Tomb Raider was a box office success. The movie debuted at number one with a towering $48.2 million, giving Paramount its second-best debut and the fourth-highest debut of 2001. It beat the opening record for a film featuring a female protagonist ($40.1 million for Charlie's Angels) as well as the opening record for a video game adaptation ($31 million for Pokémon: The First Movie), and is the third most successful video game adaptation to date, grossing $274,703,340 worldwide, behind only Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Resident Evil: Afterlife, although it is still #1 based on the number of the tickets sales, attendance and adjustment based on todays ticket price gross.

Awards and Nominations

Angelina Jolie was nominated for the Worst Actress Golden Raspberry Award for her role in the film, but she lost to Mariah Carey in Glitter. The film was also nominated for two MTV Movie Awards, these awards included: Best Female Performance and Best Fight scene, but the film lost to Moulin Rouge! and Rush Hour 2 respectively.


Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a 2001 soundtrack album to the film of the same name. The various artists soundtrack was released June 15, 2001. The Score was later released on June 26, 2001.

Original Motion Picture Score

Kiwi-born Graeme Revell composed the score for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. After fans complained the soundtrack track-listing was nonsensical, on 21 July 2001, Revell posted a revised track-list on his website.

Score Production

Producers originally wished to hire game composer Nathan McCree, and later opted for Michael Kamen, a more Hollywood choice. Unfortunately for the composer, he did not receive any feedback from the studio until after supplying a second demo recording where he was dismissed. Composer Graeme Revell was hired very late in the production, with reportedly 10 days to write, record and finish a replacement score. The short amount of time prevented Revell from travelling to the scoring sessions overseas, at London, aided by his associates including his brother.

The CD was released through Elektra Entertainment, but as noted by Revell and after failed attempts to stop the pressings, the tracks were mislabeled. For example, the opening track includes both the Main Titles and Lara Croft at Home cues together. The resulting score was poorly received, even so that the composer himself issued an apology through his website. The tracklist was later revised

Tomb Raider: The Ride

In 2002, an attraction was opened at Paramount's Kings Island (then owned by Paramount Pictures) themed to the film "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider." The most expensive ride ever opened at the park, Tomb Raider: The Ride was essentially nothing more than a Top Spin, an amusement park ride featured at many carnivals and theme parks. However, Tomb Raider: The Ride was the world's first (and to this day, only) Giant Top Spin, nearly doubling the capacity of these carnival rides and drastically increasing the height of the ride.

Tomb Raider: The Ride was billed as a "totally immersive dark ride adventure." Synchronized to a musical score composed specifically for the ride, the ride continued the adventurers of Lara Croft from the film, essentially asking riders to help her find and destroy the Triangle, which is fiercely guarded by the goddess of war, Durga. The queue line for the ride featured the warrior monkey statues as well as the six-armed Brahma shrine from the film (the actual film props), while the ride chamber itself featured a specially created 80-foot-tall (24 m) carving of the goddess Durga. Upon awakening the goddess by mistake, her "laser" eyes shattered the headlights of the car, leaving the first portion of the ride in pitch black darkness lit only by her fire and ice emblems which she held in her hands.

Playing off scenes from the film, the ride blasted riders skyward inches from razor-sharp stalactites, then held riders upside down to view an erupting volcano stretching up the back wall. Just before the ride's finale, riders were held face down to view a bubbling pit of "lava" beneath them which, synchronized to music, squirted up fountains of lava at riders, often spritzing them.

The ride ended with Angelina Jolie reprising her role as Lara Croft to narrate on the defeat of the goddess as the chamber filled with smoke and the Triangle and goddess were cracked down the center, ending the goddess' malevolent reign over the temple and assuring that no one would ever use the Triangle for evil.

In 2008, Paramount Pictures sold the park to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, owners of world famous Cedar Point. Forced to removed all references to Paramount films and licensing, the ride was renamed The Crypt. While all the film props, music, and lighting were removed, the 80-foot-tall (24 m) carving of the goddess Durga can still be seen on the walls, though the ride takes place in pitch black darkness, devoid of ice and lava effects.

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Tomb Raider Games

Tomb Raider (1996) · Unfinished Business (1998) · Tomb Raider II (1997) · The Golden Mask (1999) · Tomb Raider III (1998) · The Lost Artifact (2000) · The Last Revelation (1999) · The Times (1999) · Chronicles (2000) · The Angel of Darkness (2003) · Legend (2006) · Anniversary (2007) · Underworld (2008) · Beneath the Ashes (2009) · Lara's Shadow (2009) · Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (2010)

Tomb Raider Movies

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) · The Cradle Of Life (2003)