Review – Raiders Of The Lost Croft (“Tomb Raider”)

It seems we can’t go a single week without a movie coming out that isn’t a reboot or remake of a previous movie. What the hell, Hollywood?? What’s next, the entire Harry Potter film canon??
But I digress… this review is about the remake/reboot/reimagining of 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. (face palm)  In a movie called Tomb Raider, there’s no actual raiding of tombs until well past an hour and 15 minutes into the film, so we’re stuck with a sorta Batman meets Indiana Jones origin story, mixed with tropes ripped-off from Raiders of the Lost Ark plus others. Alicia Vikander plays Lara Croft, heir to stately Wayne manor and… sorry, I mean, Croft Manor and all its vast fortunes and businesses. But, being an independent spirit, all she wants to do chuck it all and find her dear ol’ dad whose been lost for the last seven years and presumed dead.

But have no fear, Lara’s world-hopping archeologist papa, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), left behind clues for Lara to follow in his secret Batcave. . . sorry, I mean Croftcave. One of which was PLEASE destroy everything about the buried centuries old and deadly Chinese Queen Himiko, who must NOT be found! Does Lara follow his instructions? Of course not! She hightails it for Hong Kong to find her daddy, and gets ship captain Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) to take her to a secret island where she finds not only trouble, but the deranged Mathias Vogel (Walter Goggins), a member of the super-evil group, Trinity, who wants Himiko at any price.

Finally, after being trounced around, Lara, her found daddy, and Vogel & his goons, get into some serious tomb raiding and that means facing a bunch of Raiders of the Lost Ark/Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade diabolical death traps they gotta avoid before finding the Queen. Oh, Lara, will all your decades of archaeology save you from the nasty booby traps or will just your wits alone do the trick, since you’re just a street-wise kid that occasionally gets her ass handed to you?

Free of any expectations, you have two screenwriters that have little prior experience: there’s newbie Geneva Robertson-Dworet (this her first screenplay) and Alastair Siddons, who only wrote the unseen Trespass Against Us. So what does that mean? A film script riddled with every tired and reused clichéd movie trope in the book, plus enough plot holes to fill King Tut’s tomb. Seriously, do we really need to see another “hero running away from a collapsing whatever right behind them”? That, plus boring, well-worn dialogue that is going to help you fall asleep, if you need a nice nap.

At least the writers chose to make THIS Lara more vulnerable than Angelina Jolie’s unbeatable ‘super-hero’ type heroine. However, both Lara’s still posses the ability to withstand THE most brutal, catastrophic, and inhuman shocks to the body, and still manage to climb a rock wall with ease! And speaking of newbies, this is Norwegian director Roar Uthang’s first real major motion picture and, while the script was laughable and chock full of problems, his direction was quite good, showing off his  talent in a film that deserved better.

Vikander plays this Lara as a latterday Bruce Wayne; cock-sure, rugged, smart, inquisitive, independent, and real. Even her street-smarts and Katniss archery prowess fail her from time to time. As refreshing as that is, is doesn’t play when she suddenly switches into Super-Lara mode. What, did she suddenly take an Underdog super energy pill? Goggins is sufficiently creepy as the villain and Daniel Wu has great presence as Lara’s reluctant partner. For some brief comic relief, check out Nick Frost as a nerdy pawn broker. BTW: don’t expect this Lara to look like the old Lara Croft video game or like Angelina did, this is a 2018 reboot, so… no 36DD, guys. Sorry.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Video games made into films. Just saying those words makes you wanna hurl. We’ve had some of the worst (Street Fighter, Doom, Bloodrayne, Super Mario Brothers) and others that weren’t so bad (Resident Evil, Tron, Silent Hill). This film, based on the popular pistol-packin’ video girl with the ample bosoms and thirst for adventure,
was actually not too bad.

Angelina Jolie stars as the title character who, in this entry film, shows off her prowess in fighting, Indiana Jones-style pursuits, and Einstein intelligence. After a quick workout at home battling exercise robots, she’s informed by her techno-wizard lackey Bryce (Noah Taylor) about the mysterious “Triangle of Light”, a secret the dreaded Illuminati are hiding. Finding a clue hidden inside a clock left by her late father (Jon Voight–her real-life father), Lara is off on yet another adventure and soon meets up with fellow tomb raider, Daniel West (a pre-007 Daniel Craig), who is rather unscrupulous and devious to say the least.

Through research and more clues Lara finds out this Triangle thingy is an object of intense destructive power which grants its wielder power over time and space. So, naturally, it’s gonna fall into the hands of some pretty bad guys, right? Right! Say hello to Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) who has parts of Triangle, but needs the other halves to complete it. And guess who has the expertise to do that? Lara, forming an uneasy alliance with Daniel, travel to Cambodia and Venice in order to get jump on Powell first, but you know how these go. Tombs are raided, people are betrayed, lives are lost, and then curiously resurrected again, and creatures from another dimension come out to play.

This was Patrick Massett and John Zinman’s one and only film screenplay, as they wrote only TV series like Knight Rider and Friday Night Lights. Based on the video game, Angelina was close to the 36DD male players drooled after, and director Simon West (Con Air, The Expendables 2) knew how to shoot an action film. The script was very by-the-numbers and its stock players were caricatures rather than characters, but that didn’t stop this film from being loads of silly, campy fun, not taking itself seriously. Jolie reveled in brandishing twin oversized guns, knives, and doing most of her own stunts while wearing a ridiculously padded bra.

Even though it was loaded with stunts galore, on-location shooting, and plenty of action, critics lambasted it. But, the movie managed to make bank at the box office and its sequel, Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, made even MORE money two years later. For lovers of the video game, several Easter Eggs were thrown in by Simon West: Lara’s signature tag line of “Aha!”, her drawing of weapons while somersaulting, and wearing those iconic black short-shorts.

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