“Tomb Raider.” Meh, It Could Have Been Worse…

By Scott Kurland

Film: Tomb Raider

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristen Scott Thomas, and Derek Jacobi

Rated: PG-13

Director: Roar Uthaug

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                Since 1996, I have had the same ritual for snacking at the movies. It all started when I saw the film “Waterworld.” My ten-year-old brain was screaming, “This movie is probably going to be garbage, I should get nachos.” (Actually, it was nachos with a side of Mike & Ikes; but why split hairs?) Now, every big-budget flop-buster is made all the more enjoyable by these two snacks. When I saw the trailer for this week’s film, “Tomb Raider,” I said to myself: “Scott, it looks like you’re getting Nachos.” Now let’s find out what I thought of this reboot of a video game reboot that was propelled into existence by the failure to launch the original film franchise, shall we?

                Academy Award winner Alycia Vikander takes on the role of Lara Croft; a role once made famous by Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie. These are the only times an Oscar will be associated with these films. In this reboot, Croft has been living close to poverty, working as a bike courier. The heiress to the Croft fortune is almost destitute because she refuses to sign her inheritance papers and accept the death of her father (Dominic West) which took place seven years ago. Lara stumbles upon her father’s secret study which contains clues as to where her father might have vanished. After she enlists a sailor named Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) to take her across the Devil’s Sea, Lara uncovers a small island filled with members of a shadowy organization named “Trinity.” This branch of “Trinity” is run by the sadistic Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) who has been on the island for so long that he and his crew have gone completely insane whilst trying to find the tomb of the cursed queen Himiko. Lara knows if they uncover the tomb, an unspeakable evil will be released. Can Lara stop Trinity from raiding the tomb, or is humanity lost?

                This film is boring as the action within it lacks the ridiculous intensity of the previous two films. Even so, this film might be the best of the three. The first film “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” is so bad that it’s good. It sits on the same shelf with films like “the Room” or “Troll 2.” The second "Tomb Raider" is just bad. This film tries to be better and, at times, it is. However, the eye-rolling moments far outweigh the better ones. One such moment involves Lara's refusal to sign the inheritance papers. In the very next scene Lara exclaims, “I don’t have any money!” Yes, you do. You’re Lara Croft! You’re Bill-Gates-rich! Sign the damn papers! This is but one of many unnecessary plot-holes that jumble the entire movie. Director Roar Uthaug is trying too hard to make an award-winning film instead of a pulse-pounding popcorn flick. The action is, at times, enjoyable; but there isn’t enough of it and it comes too little too late.

                By far, the biggest issue that critics (myself included) are noting is the casting of Vikander. There is no doubt Vikander is a terrific actress. After all, there’s a reason she won for “The Danish Girl.” With that said, she’s not the right choice for Lara Croft. Jolie looked like Croft. Jolie's perfectly captured Crofts adventurous and arrogant persona as well as her build. Also the facial features of Jolie and the animated croft are eerily similar. My issue with Vikander is that she looks so young. Yes, she’s almost thirty, but looks like she’s in her late teens. Jolie also possessed the perfect voice for the thrill-seeking heiress. It was a smokey, strong voice, whereas Vikander's is more dulcet. When Jolie’s Lara screams, it sound like a battle cry. When Vikander's Lara screams it’s a little upsetting because it sounds slightly juvenile. To clarify, there’s nothing wrong with Vikander’s, acting. She’s wonderful, but she’s not an action star. She should continue making award-winning period pieces, not big-budget blockbusters.

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                “Tomb Raider” is not the best film, but it's not the worst of the "Tomb Raider" franchise. The story is not up to par, but none of the previous films had good story lines either. What this film has that the others lacked is a decent villain. Walton Goggins is carving a nice little niche for himself playing insane men-of-action. Goggin’s Mathias Vogel has gone mad due to the long-term separation from his family and the solitude that comes with being surrounded by muscle-bound idiots. Goggins is the one good thing the film has going for itself, but I still can’t recommend the film completely. This film is a C- where the others were D- at best. Save your money and wait for rental or streaming. “Tomb Raider” is simply not worth seeing in the theater.

REVIEW RATING: C-

 

scott kurland