Tomb Raider Books

Lara Croft Tomb Raider
Lara Croft Tomb Raider Tech Manual
Lara Croft Tomb Raider:The Cradle Of Life. The Official Movie Souvenir Magazine

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Lara Croft Tomb Raider
A Novelisation by David Stern
Pocket Books. pbk. 345 pages. 2001. £6.99.

Forget about Indiana Jones or Sigourney Weaver's Ripley, tomb-raiding Lara Croft makes them look as modern as a flat iron. 

Sure the story about chasing after the All Seeing Eye, before the secret Illumanati brotherhood can get their mitts on it to take over the world, has been done before but what can you expect from a Hollywood blockbuster these days? 

If 11-year-old boys are the dominant members of the audience this book will at least prise them from their playstations and encourage them to do something different. Just in case they miss Lara Croft's shapely computer-generated image, this book provides several colour illustrations from the movie showing that Angelina Jolie amply fills this role. 

Lara Croft Tomb Raider Tech Manual
Michael Jan Friedman
Pocket Books. Glossy, colour large-format pbk. 2001. £8.99.

Gadgets are very popular with heroes and superheroes. Even that cool dude James Bond has been bedecked with them, though he does have a nasty habit of trashing them all by the last reel. Female stars have rarely been associated with hi-tech gadgets; at best there was Margaret Thatcher who packed a mean handbag.

Lara Croft being a modern girl sports a mean backpack brimming with knives, flares, ropes and binoculars. Like any self-respecting superhero it is a nerdish genuis who creates all her gadgets, whilst Bond had Q and the Thunderbirds had Brains, so Lara has Bryce Turing. 

The book takes the form of emailed messages and audio transcripts between Bryce and Lara. Bryce is a busy bee who creates everything from crumb-eating robotic insects to motorbikes, headsets, guns, cars and telescopes. Being an independent lady she is usually critical of his designs but by the end of the book she's able to say that "I feel prepared to take on the world again." In reply Bryce says, "Just the world? I'll have to work a little harder."

Since this uses a fictional format you do wonder if these illustrations and gadgets were specially created for this volume, or whether this is a good way of recycling the trash can of the film's art department. The latter is probably the case, but whatever the case this is a visual feast for those who can't get enough of Tomb Raider or Lara Croft's ample charms.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life
The Official Movie Souvenir Magazine
Edited by Nick Jones
Titan. Glossy, colour large-format. 66 pages. 2003. £3.99.

This magazine tells the story of how this sequel was produced and contains interviews with the film's star Angelina Jolie, the film's director Jan De Bont and other members of the cast and crew. 

There are also features about the special effects and the production design. In the latter, award winning costume designer Lindy Hemming explains that the stunning silver wetsuit worn by Lara (Angelina Jolie) was made from material supplied by two companies in Asia. The Japanese supplier's fabric was more waterproof but the Chinese supplier's fabric was more luminous. The Japanese material was best for their purposes but for a time they could not get enough of it for all the wetsuits they needed, so some of the Chinese fabric was also used. That was just one of the minor problems you inevitably get when you make such a large-scale blockbuster.

In the double-page spread about Chris Barrie (best known for his roles in Red Dwarf and The Brittas Empire TV comedies)  he tells of being pleased to reprise his part as Lara Croft's butler but he was worried about filming in Nairobi. He has 'an intermittent fear of flying', he didn't want to leave his wife and children, and he feared getting some Third World disease. His wife told him to snap out of it and he actually enjoyed the experience.

Even though this is aimed squarely at fans of this movie, with its plentiful supply of colour pictures on every page and a centre-page poster with Lara in her silver wetsuit, you can learn a lot about the people involved in getting a blockbuster from script to screen. 

Nigel Watson

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