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Copyright 2001 Toronto Sun

[ November 12th 2001 ]

Angelina Jolie empowered herself, physically and figuratively, in the making of the summer action hit Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which is new to VHS and DVD tomorrow.

After rigorous training sessions that gave her real muscles to ripple under her 23 tattoos, the juiced-up Jolie played the femme fatale of video games with a fearless verve no one expected. Not even herself. "I'm a bit of a dork - I'm clumsy," Jolie admits. So she dedicated herself.

"I wanted to be able to do as much as I could," Jolie says of that transformation from L.A. girlie geek to the female version of James Bond and Indiana Jones. "I worked very hard to be able to jump in her world and her skin," Jolie says.

With her head slightly bowed, her bare shoulders back and her padded breasts thrust forward, Jolie copped an attitude. The extras-loaded DVD version of the movie - in a widescreen Special Collector's Edition from Paramount Home Entertainment - shows you how she did it, with help.

Her dad and co-star Jon Voight is as shocked as his daughter. "Whoa!" he says in the DVD's featurette Crafting Lara Croft. "Doesn't anyone realize how unbelievable this is?"

In the end, Simon West's movie is problematic but is often fun, almost fantastic at times and always flashy. Too bad about the story holes and some clunky characters. There is no doubting Jolie's presence, however. A sequel looms.

The DVD is impressive, from the quick and cool computer-generated menus, to West's useful commentary to the lineup of behind-the-scenes documentaries. Brightest is the history of Lara Croft in Are You Game? Most insightful is the Visual Effects special, breaking down eight sequences and showing how the magic works. There are four wisely deleted scenes, including traitor Wilson's beheading. The effects in the U2 video of Elevation are both amazing and amusing.

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Lara Croft and Tomb Raider are trademarks of Square Enix Ltd.