Review: Tomb Raider – Same as it ever was

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Tomb Raider

Everything old is new again in Tomb Raider, the reboot of the film adaptation franchise that is based on the hit video-game series. But just because something is “new” doesn’t mean it isn’t pretty much the same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was… (And if The Talking Heads taught us anything, it’s that maybe “once in a lifetime” is enough.)

This go around Lara Croft is played by Academy Award winning Swedish actress, Alicia Vikander; and she is an improvement, I think, over the former Tomb Raider, Angelina Jolie, who starred in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003). Vikander delivers the perfect mix of tenacity, boldness and sexiness that we expect from Ms. Croft, plus an added dash of naïve vulnerability that makes the character more real – a nice touch for this digitally inspired heroine.

Tomb RaiderThis film tells an unnecessary origin story and it wastes its first act on tedious action sequences, like bicycle races and Chinese junk footraces, as Lara tries to retrace the last steps of her billionaire-adventurer father, played by The Wire’s Dominic West. Croft is joined by Lu Ren (Daniel Wu – Into the Badlands), a ship captain whose own father was connected to Lara’s.

The pair find themselves shipwrecked on a mysterious island where Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) is doing the Colonel Kurtz routine (see Apocalypse Now) while searching for the Japanese “Queen of Death” who will unleash the end of… well, you know.

Will Lara find her dad? Will she solve all the wackadoodle tomb puzzles? Will she narrowly escape death at every turn? Will you be able to stay awake? You already know the answers to all of these mysteries, my child.

Considering the high quality of the acting talent involved here, it’s sad that this film is as humdrum as it is. The direction by Roar Uthaug is adequate and the cinematography by George Richmond is one of the highlights, but most of this movies problems can be blamed on the lame script, by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons, which has little imagination, originality or excitement.

There are a couple of Tomb Raider-y action sequences here that are, I dare say, worth the price of admission. Lara’s narrow escape from a rusty old plane that is perched on the edge of a waterfall is the type of top-notch, edge-of-seat action that this whole film should have delivered. Alas, maybe we’ll see more of that in a sequel.

Vikander’s performance and the one or two fun action sequences aren’t quite enough to give this reboot a ringing recommendation, but, like Croft herself, scrambling to survive against all odds, the film franchise still has potential going forward. Grade: 4/10

Photos Copyright © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.