Angelina Jolie has certainly made a great career move with her casting as Lara Croft, a gun-toting bullet-dodging amazon seductress. The same could be said for the Tomb Raider franchise, which besides Mortal Kombat is one of the few video game-based films I've enjoyed.
The movie's plot can be divided into five major sequences: Lara Croft battles a droid out to kill her for practise (this showcases her looks, agility, and lifestyle); Lara Croft finds the key that will let her access the Triangle of Light, an object that will help its owner control time itself (this illustrates her connection with her dead father); Lara Croft fights with thugs sent by Manfred Powell (Iain Glen), a member of the ancient society called the Illuminati who seek to use the power for their own ends, who manage to steal the key; Lara Croft fights with Powell and his thugs to retrieve the first part of the Triangle somewhere in Cambodia; Lara Croft fights with Powell and his thugs to retrieve the second part (hidden at the opposite end of the Earth from the first, in Iceland) and take control of time.
The movie is nothing more than what you'd expect: a glorified video game with the primary difference being that you're not at its controls. This approach, combined with a comic book aesthetic, works very well. The only slow parts are when the people in the movie try to act (or talk).
It is Jolie's presence that makes the film work. Unlike other females in similar roles playing tough females (Jennifer Lopez in the recent Angel Eyes comes to mind), she is able to pull off Lara Croft extremely well. Jolie portrays Croft as strong, sexy, and sophisticated, the female answer to James Bond. She has the pout and the mean look both working for her, and like James Bond, she constantly smirks as though she's enjoying an inside joke.
The action scenes are all choreographed and shot well, and the visuals and settings are great. The villains are a bit of a disappointment. The film is a mindless time killer and definitely worth watching on the big screen.
The sequel to the first Tomb Raider film, The Cradle of Life, is better. In this film, Lara must save the world from Pandora's Box being opened, which would unleash a biological agent of terror that would destroy humanity.
Of course, there are certain evil people who are interested in using the Pandora's Box to their own ends. These include Dr. Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds) who wants to conduct some sort of half-baked eugenics experiment with it. And then there are the middlemen who are after the box in exchange for money that Reiss has promised them. Allegedly aiding Lara in her quest is love-interest Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler). I always love such gender-based role reversals in action films (they are far too uncommon).
The cinematography and the sound stand out the most. The movie goes all over the world, and we get to see some great visual imagery. The Cradle of Life is about what you'd expect: superlative action scenes, a hot ass-kicking protagonist with a great mouth, an irrelevant plot, and generally, a fun time. It's definitely worth checking out on the big screen.