Copyright 2000

[ November 9th 2000 ]

With thousands of fans across the world tuning into Paramount Pictures live web cast this evening, Real Networks in association with Land Rover carried the broadcast without a hitch, bringing to desktops throughout the world a tour of Croft Manor, an in-depth look at the vehicles featuring in Simon West's action movie, and a surprise phone call from Lara Croft herself. Proceedings began shortly after 19:30 this evening, with John Tracey hosting the show live from Europe's largest soundstage at Pinewood Studios, London.

Throughout the 40 minute broadcast, gunfire was audible over Johns commentary as he explained that fimling continued yards from his anchor position. Simon West, director of Eidos Interactives computer blockbuster Tomb Raider, headed the production commenting on his ideals for Tomb Raider and answering questions thrown into the interview from fans logged into Yahoo Chat.

The first question quizzed Simon on the time frame, and expected arrival, of the film crew in Cambodia. Simon West answered that a team was sent out four weeks ago to begin building sets, and readying the Temples of Angkor Wat in preparation for the main contingents arrival which is expected on November 17th.

Simon reveals that he decided the movie should capture the imagination of it's audience, and chose previously unseen locations for shooting various parts of the movie, thus adding surprise and mystique to an already explosive production. West also says that choosing locations begins with research from books and articles, then usually he follows up with a trip to the region, where the filming sequences are first designed.

According to production designer Kirk M. Petruccelli, Simon wanted no scene continuity, opting for the expanse of the Icelandic glaciers for some scenes, the mystique of the Angkor Wat Temples in Cambodia, and the stately appearance of Croft Manor London, to visually portray a broad spectrum of atmosphere using panoramic. locations.

The interview moves into the vehicles workshop, where we are introduced to the custom built, Norton motor cycle with it's carbon chassis, Ducatti influenced shell and Harley Davidson Wheels. The style of Norton was chosen by designers because of it's classic appearance, and the vehicle was then inherently modified to compliment Lara Croft.

We are told the bike reaches from 0-130 in an amazing 6 seconds, and is one of six produced for the movie, all with different modifications for the action sequences. Standing next to the Norton is Land Rovers powerful V8 Defender, and this contraption comes with rocket launcher as standard. The Tomb Raider specs also sport onboard Nav Sat, a buckled harnessing system and life support machine, oxygen tanks and an incredible exhaust pipe running the height of the vehicle ready for it's water exploits.

Included in this model is a quick release mechanism in case of trouble [and I think we're in for quite a bit of that] and comes complete with coffee holder for those calmer moments. The tour of Croft Manor is nothing short of spectacular, with Kirk explaining that the set was assembled with the option of giving director Simon West complete 3D capability when shooting scenes.

When asked how long the team were given to complete Croft Manor, Kirk replies the Croft Manor was built within it's seventeen week time allowance. One major action scene involves an assult on Croft Manor, and sees Lara Croft swinging on a chandelier.

Just like Adam West's high-tech communication room in the hit series Batman, Croft Manor goes all out, with a command room straight out of a sci fi movie. Screens, graphs, images from satellites around the world, the central communication centre sports every technical accessory available in the infinite storeroom of imagination. We are then led to the observatory, and learn that the huge telescope is the biggest indoor star viewing assembly anywhere under a roof.

Then our hosts mobile phone rings, and broadcast across the digital web is heard the sultry tones of Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, with an accent that almost rivals native London. John Tracey quizzes Jolie on her activities in her free time, and asks why the role of Lara Croft appealed to her. Her answers are short, perhaps in character, and volunteers the excitement and action of Eidos heroine as favourable points to her characters persona.

Simon West, when earlier questioned about the casting of Jolie, said that the production of Paramount's movie hinged on whether or not Angelina Jolie would sign for the role, describing her as the perfect actress for the role of Lara Croft. Simon Crane, stunt coordinator, joins the discussion, and we learn that the action sequences in the movie were designed to be completely unique, and where familiar moves were sown into the action, Simons unique angle of filming made them appear like never before.

Simon Crane also found humour to the suggestion that he actually enjoyed finding different ways to destroy Kirks glorious sets. The stunt sequences featuring Lara Croft were, for the major part, performed by Angelina Jolie, who is described by Simon as a unique mix of action heroine and boyish attitude. Her training began months before principal photography started at Pinewood, and she will be seen performing some of her own fight sequences and stunts. Her gruelling training included a course of gymnastics and several rounds on an army assault course.

Simon Crane continues to differentiate between the design of action sequences with other movies, saying that realism plays a dominant part in the making of Tomb Raider, as well as in scenes in Titanic and Saving Private Ryan, which were both movies he previously worked on.

A question about action on location is put to Crane from a user logged into Yahoo Chat, who is told that most of the fighting sequences will be shot at Pinewood, including many of the underground scenes. Location shooting will introduce the viewer to the region first.

When asked whether or not Angelina Jolie wore a wig during filming, a wry smile snaked across the faces of both host and interviewee, and although they suggested she sported her own hair, no definitive answer was given other than the fact that this was a closely guarded secret. We also learn that the softer side of Lara Croft probably won't be shown, with the emphasis on action and adventure the dominant qualities of archaeologist adventurer Lara Croft.

The broadcast played across the desktops of fans seemesly, and we only experienced the occasional drop out. Enough information was learnt to wet the appetite further, with enough withheld to maintain the mystique and mystery from Simon West's probable blockbuster Tomb Raider. Previews should hit some of Paramounts releases this Christmas, with the premier expected sometime in June 2001.

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