#MovieReviews: LaraCroft: Tomb Raider

Genre: , Action, Adventure

Director: Roar Uthaug

Production Companies: MGM, Warner Bros, GK Films, Square Enix

Initial release: March 2 17 2018

Running Time: 118 Minutes

Thoughtivity’s Rating: 4 out of 10 stars

 

After having watched two films starring Angelina Jolie, which led me to start following the 20 year old game series, I was eager to watch the new Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie that the producers had promised would be a gritty reboot of the series. This week, I had the opportunity to do just that. I have decided to share one or two of my thoughts on it.

First of all, I like how the story cuts straight to the action from the start, to the gym scene where (spoilers) Lara Croft is training in a kickboxing fight which she would later lose. It is interesting in that it keeps up with the realism and the grittiness that viewers  had been promised and it instantly raises the expectation of the viewer that they are going to be treated to two hours of awesome action. Not just that, the fact that Lara has her ass handed to her in that fight is a marvelous way of making her instantly relatable to the audience. It is one of the refreshing departures from the almost cartoonish PG13 superheroism of the 2001 movie where The Angelina Jolie Lara Croft could battle giant robots without breaking a sweat. Alicia Vikander’s Lara Croft is more, human, less sure of herself and thus more relatable to the audience.

Talking about Alicia Vikander, I feel one of the best things about the movie was the casting of Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft. Like Angelina Jolie before her, she fits so nicely into the role that one cannot help but wonder if the role of Lara Croft in the 2013 game reboot was made with her in mind. Also it is nice to see that Hollywood is progressing in its bid to learn how to create powerful, capable and unobjectified heroines. Furthermore it is it is nice to see that she is not just a pretty face and a beautiful body. she seems to be up for the action as well and her acting makes every scene she is in so much better.

However for all the movies awesomeness, I have a few issues with it overall. The first major one is that for all its grittiness and realism, the movie still manages to fall into the “every lead character in an adventure movie is a superhero now” trap that it seems every movie cannot avoid these days. For a character that is meant to be realistic, the fact that the heroine survives dangerous event after dangerous event without as much as a bruise is enough to destroy the suspension of disbelief of even the most credulous of believers. Even the one time she was impaled with a sharp stick, the fact that it is her only injury after the fall that led to that impalement, and that it was promptly forgotten about until the plot required it to be remembered, and then promptly forgotten about again, makes it look even more stupid). When you create a nigh invincible superhero like that, you kill any stakes that your movie is supposed to have and any suspense the audience is supposed to feel.

While we are talking about stakes, calling your movie “Tomb Raider” is supposed to imply something dangerous, a high stakes game where nobody knows what would happen next. However, the movie fails to deliver, which is a shame after all the expectation it had given the audience in the first hour. The movie explodes out of the starting blocks and maintains the action in the first hour and then drags ass to a limp finish the second. The big bad villain never shows up, Mathias Vogel, the Walter Goggins character who is supposed to be the stand in bad guy is too generic to be a villain of note, the action packed, gripping finale that the audience was made to expect from the beginning never comes, instead the film resorts to using generic adventure movie obstacles and cheap jumpscares to try and cover up the fact that it had exhausted every thing worth watching in the first one hour. And it had the cheek to use plot contrivances to try to tease a sequel.

Now we go back to the main character herself. While the opening action scene where Lara Croft *spoiler* gets beaten looks awesome by itself, it sets the tone for a movie where the heroine gets shoved and punched and kicked into the sidelines like a secondary character in her own movie. What makes that even more grating is that it is done by flat male characters who have zero personality or acting skill. Again what is with the stupid origin story? If we didn’t know who Lara Croft is, we won’t be in the cinema to watch your movie, so hand her the guns (or the bow and arrows…LMAO) and let her start kicking ass already. Instead we has sit through a baffling “wrong side of the tracks”, “reluctant heroine” Lara Croft, which is not only inconsistent with the character’s background and motivation, but also makes zero sense within the context of the movie itself.  For example how does Lara Croft go from inheritor of a Billion pound conglomerate to living from hand to mouth in the streets? Like even if she isn’t old enough/unwilling to inherit yet, sure she should have a trust fund set up for her or at least money set up for her to keep the wolf from the door. Why would a character who loves her father so much leave the place where she has a chance to be close to him and go live in the streets? But then I guess I am expecting too much from a movie where the director expects me to believe that an arrow is somehow as fast as a bullet or that an arrow would have any effect on a helicopter.

Also I appreciate that the movie is trying to shout out to the game, but what is up with the heroine wielding a bow and arrow in a movie where guns are plentiful and far more logical weapons? It totally leaves the territory of awesome and heads straight for narm. And then the director perhaps in a sudden bout of awareness suddenly realizes that the game Lara Croft had guns, suddenly decides to bring in a scene where Lara stands guns akimbo that is so untypical the that it straight up pisses on the premise of the whole movie.

Overall, Lara Croft:Tomb Raider is not a bad movie. Sure enough it might be a cheap imitation of Indiana Jones, but bad is too strong a word to use for it. I won’t be watching it or any other sequel of it though. But then again I might, but they must cut the stupid origin story out at least.

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