Movie Review: “Tomb Raider” reboot never answers the question, “Um, why?”

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  Alicia Vikander makes us feel Lara Croft’s pain, with every grunt, whimper, yelp and gasp of exertion she makes as the “Tomb Raider.”

Yes, the Oscar winner is a Swedish slip of a thing, and having her stand next to — well, any of her co-stars save Walton Goggins — makes it clear that all that kick-boxing and wrestling we see her do to set up her mad skillz in the physical realm will convince nobody.

It’s not physique, it’s physics. She can barely reach the villains she’s spin-kicking left and right, much less deliver the throw-weight to make a punch look like more than a slap.

She makes for a more serious Lara Croft in a duller, less supernatural and somewhat less fun version of the video game heroine based on Indiana Jones. If it seems only yesterday that Oscar winner Angelina Jolie was playing the “Let’s get PAID” role in a T & A & L (especially “L”) take on the tank-topped terror. Maybe that’s because SyFy has been airing the 2001 film repeatedly these past few weeks to gin up interest in the re-boot/remake. And present comparisons when the new film comes out.

That film was more stunts/somewhat less digital, though both “Tomb Raiders” are a bit let down by their villains. Here, it’s Walton Goggins as the pistol-packing predator running a tomb-search on a remote Japanese island. He has a few scenes with a sat-phone, as if to head off charges that he “phones it in.” It’s a half-hearted turn at best, and pales next to his murderously mincing menace in TV’s “Vice Principals.” Now THERE was a bad guy.

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Lara is a London pizza delivery heiress in the new film, a kickboxer who never knows when to quit, a bike racer who treats the mean streets as her BMX course.

Her guardian (Kristin Scott Thomas) wants her to take over the family multi-national, but that would mean admitting that Lord, billionaire and avid Indie-imitator father Richard (Dominic West) is dead. He may well but, Dad’s “first letter from my final destination” (post mortem) gives her fun clues to work out that tell her what he was up to.

And that sends her to Hong Kong in search of Lu Ren, every Hollywood action movie’s Compulsory Chinese Content. He will help her find her way through The Devil’s Sea to the island where an ancient Japanese sorceress was buried.

That’s where Lara runs up against Mathias Vogel (Goggins) and his minions. And that’s where he learns she was quite the kickboxer, and before that, an archer for the ages.

The chases and fights are ho hum with a capital H. Vikander is game, and hurls herself over digital gorges, through digital gauntlets and into digital raging rivers. A shipwreck almost impresses, until you remember the execrable “Hurricane Heist” managed one of those. Not the hardest thing to fake these days.

Aside from the presence of Nick Frost (as a chatty pawn broker), it’s a humorless affair. There’s no urgency to the plot, even though Dad warned of world-ending consequences to the discovery of this tomb. The quest just sort of shuffles along, a gunfight here, a crawl across a ladder there.

Vikander is more the coquette here than any English language film has ever let her be. But even at that she seems a tad too serious to want to hang with. Jolie let her vamp flag fly, and that’s sorely missed. The movie’s dull, and at least a little of that falls on Vikander.

The rest? I’d credit the director whose first name seems like a promise he’s ill-equipped to keep, Roar Uthaug.

Not that the original film is any better or anybody’s idea of a classic, or even passable entertainment. But when your set pieces fail to surprise, your dialogue fails to deliver even one decent one-liner and your villain looks like he’s dealing with dysentery on location, maybe 17-18 years isn’t long enough between reboots.

Just don’t tell “Spider-Man” that.

1half-star

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some language

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Dominic West, Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi

Credits:Directed by Roar Uthaug script by Geneva Robertson-Dworet ,Alastair Siddons. An MGM/Warner Brothers release.

Running time: 1:58

 

 

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9 Responses to Movie Review: “Tomb Raider” reboot never answers the question, “Um, why?”

  1. What a surprise, the new Tomb Raider film is terrible. I called it a few weeks ago in my analysis of the trailers. My main criticism was that the director appeared to be under the impression that making an exact replica of a video game in film form is a good idea. They used the same plot, set, characters, set pieces, dialogue and visuals as the game. History has proven that this is a bad idea that does not work… why would it? film and game are two different mediums.

    • Atlier00 says:

      One bad review and you assume that your biased opinion from the get go is true (I’ve seen your video)?

      There are hundreds of people on Youtube and Twitter that actually love the movie and have rated it accordingly.This reviewer was obviously was expecting a campy film that doesn’t take itself seriously and the fact it does is a negative. He comes across as so jaded with film making that he actively looks for things to criticize for his review…an example being that “Hurricane Heist” comment.

  2. André Costa says:

    If you havent played the rebooted games or at least know them, then you shouldn’t say some things… Since when is she suppose to be supernatural?? And btw don’t call Jolie’s Tomb Raider “Lara Croft”… That only was a bad porn version of Lara Croft. Respect the fans and the legacy of Tomb Raider (the games, not the Angelina movies). And after you do your research on Tomb Raider from 2013 and Rise of tomb raider, do your review on this movie!

    • Sure thing, junior. Except I’m reviewing a MOVIE, not a soulless video game. Nobody ever said SHE was supernatural, BTW. “Curses” and “haunted tombs” and mysteries of the Lost Ark and the like? Supernaturalism. Not in this version.

  3. EW says:

    Not surprising it’s been heavily criticised given the source material it is based on – it had no hope really. Rebooted game Lara is a dull, whiny misery with a heavy emphasis on shooting and gore rather than fun puzzles and archaeology. Rather than disseminating sexy quips, Lara mostly mopes around after her dead dad and indulges in incessant naval gazing throughout the entire game. I’m not surprised the film follows suit. But unlike the game, at least it has a tomb in it.

  4. juka says:

    Worst review ever!

  5. amar says:

    Tomb Raider is a fast-paced, fun, action adventure film. Its adaptation of and improvement on the excellent source material and display of many iconic game moments are a delight to see on screen,Good Movie.

  6. EW says:

    I’ve seen this film now and this review is pretty accurate. Although I would go further and say this film has so many stupid moments in it, it makes Jolie punching a shark look like Oscar bait.
    And in response to the question “why”? For daddy of course!! God knows a grown woman can’t make decisions on her own!

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