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Tomb Raider (dir. Uthaug)

Image: Alicia Vikander as the iconic Lara Croft [Source: IMDB]

 ★★☆☆☆

Lara Croft, whether you played any of the video games or not, is a widely recognised name and character. Angelina Jolie brought her to the big screen first but in an attempt to reboot the inspiring heroine, Alicia Vikander brings us back to the fiercely independent Tomb Raider. In this origin story, Lara’s father goes missing in his quest for an ancient tomb, so Lara must push herself to find the island and perhaps the fate of her father.

Director: Roar Uthaug. Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Kristin Scott Thomas. [12A]

As far as Tomb Raider films go, this is the strongest. Following in the footsteps of the recent video game reboot, it takes Lara Craft more seriously and ditches the tongue in cheek 90s comedy. This new sincere approach to the Tomb Raider series is certainly a step in the right direction. Alicia Vikander plays Lara with authority, doing honour to the many women or men who find Lara Craft as a source of inspiration, in fact, Vikander is doing the heavy lifting trying to keep Tomb Raider‘s plodding and soulless plot engaging.

Two-thirds of Tomb Raider is entirely empty of interesting plot development, character details and anything that resembles original storytelling. This plays more of a box standard ‘superhero origin story’, even Marvel realised how tired we were of those when it came to rebooting Spiderman for the third time. All character elements of Lara Croft, are stripped from her in an effort to make her more relatable but this just comes off as contrived and Lara never feels genuine. Instead, we get senseless, pedestrian action scenes that do little more than remind us of the type of film we’d rather be seeing.

Additionally, it seems Uthaug forgot one crucial element when constructing Tomb Raider, the actual tomb raiding. Uthaug does well to bring momentum and pace to the storytelling, after the first act we know everything we’d need to know about Lara to get the ball rolling but Uthaug decides to sit tepidly in events that do not feel like Lara is growing, as a person or in the skills she will need to become the Lara Croft we know. This should have been closer to Indiana Jones, we want to be in the tombs, with the treasures and chasing the myths not negotiating fees for boats and stopping muggers. Sadly it takes two-thirds of the movie to get to the action we desire and it’s only then in its final act that the movie takes off.

Tomb Raider is well constructed, camera work and set pieces are done well, Alicia Vikander is superb as this new realistic Lara Croft and her development is played with finesse. However, this film’s major problem is with its bland, lifeless storytelling that sticks firmly with the utter predictability of mainstream Hollywood action productions, settling Tomb Raider firmly as a thoroughly yawn inducing picture.

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