Movie adaptations have had a historically lousy run, from ‘Super Mario Bros.’ bad to ‘Assassin’s Creed’ bland. Producers and filmmakers are consistently perplexed as to how to successfully transpose the ideas, aesthetic, and feel of these insanely popular properties, but because they have built-in audiences, they will continue to churn them out. The latest is a gritty reboot of ‘Tomb Raider’ that, like its’ videogame counterpart, valiantly attempts to recast its’ main character, Lara Croft, from an objectified cartoon to a three-dimensional heroine.
Renowned Oscar winning actress Alicia Vikander takes up the mantle of main character Lara and lends an air of credibility to a vastly underwritten role. The movie starts in a promising way, with Croft eschewing her lofty birthright to scrape together an existence on her own terms as a bike courier in London. These scenes have a grounded relevance and are staged expertly enough in wide shots, although with a bit too much jumpy handheld camera work in the close-ups. It’s too bad that most of the rest of the movie is bogged down by boring and at times contradictory exposition in a lazy screenplay that can’t figure out what the movie is supposed to be, sapping any fun out of the adventure of it all.
Vikander tries to imbue Lara with pathos, a young woman who has grown up with an idealized version of a father that she realizes she barely knew, but these rotely fleshed out motivations, and a real lack of an inspired supporting cast to work off of, fail her in this attempt at a franchise starter. The normally stellar Walton Goggins (‘The Sheild’, ‘Justified’) as the villain and Dominic West (‘The Wire’, ‘The Affair’) as Lara’s father, Lord Croft, are completely wasted here (maybe their slow burn style only works well on the small screen) and Daniel Wu’s sidekick character falls completely flat (although it is a welcome sight to avoid the obvious love interest route). ‘Tomb Raider’ is not bad, and it definitely has its’ exciting moments (the dilapidated plane / waterfall scene is well-staged and videogamey in all the right ways), but as a feature, it fails to capture the puzzle-solving thrills of its’ namesake game, nor advance the adventure genre beyond other, much more successful entries like its’ obvious progenitor, ‘Indiana Jones’ . . .
Directed By: Roar Uthaug
Written By: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons, & Evan Daugherty
Running Time: 118 min.
* * (out of 4 stars) -or- C