Movie Review: Tomb Raider

[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]ell, she’s back. Video game heroine Lara Croft returns following a 15-year hiatus. I, for one, didn’t miss her. Although Angelina Jolie fit the description, her portrayal was corny at best. The early 00’s were a dark time for blockbuster cinema. Regardless, I still enjoyed her films as a kid. My dad calls them “Boob Raider”. Tomb Raider films are historically bad. However, Jolie found a cozy home amidst purposeful puns and Hollywood stunts. This time around, I question whether this film should even exist. I know that’s harsh. Nevertheless, I am yet to determine its purpose. Who asked for this movie? Was it you? If so, please turn yourself into the authorities. It’s not so much this reboot is god awful. It’s more like utterly unnecessary. Despite grabbing an Oscar-winning actress, Tomb Raider is just another box office reach. Alicia Vikander‘s depiction nearly put me to bed.

Lara (Vikander) discovers her missing father’s secret lair. | Warner Bros.

Her mannerisms: stale. Her demeanor: robotic. No wonder she did so well in Ex Machina. I feel bad for calling her out like this. I honestly do. Yet it is necessary. As trite as her predecessor was, Vikander adds no sort of style or swagger to the role. Though that may not be entirely her fault. While I appreciated director Roar Uthaug’s non-sexualized character, his vision for Croft was rather bland. With a script as bread-crumbed as this one, few actors could give a transcendent performance. However, at times, Vikander shined. Other than the occasional cringe-worthy squeal, Alicia emoted pain well. Many times throughout this film, Croft experiences defeat. She is no longer the busty badass we once knew. Which is perfectly fine. This version of Lara Croft takes hits and gets back up. I guess that’s an endearing sentiment.

However, I’m of the mindset that a non-badass would never foil an entire crime syndicate. Lara received help nonetheless. She enlists Lu Ren, a Hong Kong ship captain, to sail her to an uncharted island. Played by Daniel Wu, Ren diverts from the usual male counterpart. No romantic tension exists between the two. Although Uthaug’s aforementioned conservatism is a nice gesture, this film lacks zest. The chemistry between Vikander and Wu feels scripted. Also, her connection with all of the characters emits constant your-turn-my-turn line swapping. It’s like that even with her father (played by Dominic West). Richard Croft went missing seven years prior to the film’s genesis. He left Lara often as a child despite her mother passing away. This could explain the disconnect. Yet the direction here made me cringe. Lara and her dad have this weird kiss-blowing thing they do. It is clearly a bonding agent.

Richard Croft (West) leaves young Lara behind for a secret archaeological mission. | Warner Bros.

But it ends up looking like a silly, forced calling card. Additionally, West’s interactions with young Lara in flashbacks were awkward. He kisses her on the head multiple times like she’s his wife instead of his daughter. I’m nitpicking here, but it was somewhat strange. None of these actors gave compelling performances. However, like I said before, I place more blame on the writing and directing. Nevertheless, that does not erase the fact that nearly every actor continuously rushed their lines. It appeared as though they couldn’t wait to get this movie over with. I’m right there with ya, guys. Having said that, it wasn’t a total mess. There were some decent special effects. I knew most of the landscapes and island remains were fake. But they weren’t so obvious to the point of distraction.

Anyway, back to the plot. Lara refuses to believe her father is dead in spite of his seven-year absence. Rather than sign her inheritance papers, she solves a puzzle Richard left for her. She visits her family’s grave site and discovers her dad’s underground lair. Inside are all of his archaeological findings, tapes, and videos. She grabs a camcorder and presses play. Richard warns Lara that his research is too dangerous to fall into the wrong hands, insisting she burn it all. She succumbs to curiosity and sets sail with Lu Ren to find him. Following a huge ocean storm, the duo crash lands on the island, becoming captives soon thereafter. Richard warned his daughter about the Trinity, a shadowy criminal organization bent on uncovering supernatural power. While on the island, Richard supplied decoy after decoy to deter Trinity’s progress. Unfortunately, Lara led them straight to the mythical tomb.

Lara and Lu Ren (Wu) plot their escape from the Trinity’s bondage. | Warner Bros.

Trinity hope to unleash a genocidal disease on the world, or sell it off to the highest bidder. That is simply my assumption, though. Their plans, along with every main character, were vague at best. Everyone’s pasts are foggy. This equates to a lack of sympathy for any of these characters. I never cared for anyone in this story because it never prompted me to do so. Opposed to a fully-realized story, Tomb Raider feels like a casual retelling of the role-playing game your friend just completed. Despite the video game ties here, that is not a compliment. I never thought I’d say this, but I needed some bad jokes in here. Or something. I mean, wow. This movie lacks major entertainment value. The plot is so predictable, I could’ve walked out halfway through and written the same review. Worst part is: They hinted at sequels.


Actor Performances
Visual Effects
Sound / Score
Character Development
Satisfactory Action Sequences
Decent Special Effects
Limp Sound Integration
Minimal Actor Chemistry
Predictable Plot & Dialogue
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