TOMB RAIDER

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TOMB RAIDER

Or

Who is this person and why is she impersonating Lara Croft?

TOMB RAIDER (2018)

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas

Directed by: Roar Uthaug

Written by: Geneva Robertson Dworet, Alistair Siddons

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TOMB RAIDER is a 2018 adventure film based on the 2013 video game and is a reboot of the Tomb Raider film series. You will note that I said this movie is based on the 2013 Tomb Raider game and not the original Tomb Raider game I used to play.

Lara Croft and Tomb Raider were given a reboot in 2013. Basically the character was changed to make it more appealing to women. In the process we were given a watered-down version of Lara Croft. For example the original Lara stood 5ft. 9in. The new Lara is a mere 5ft. 6in. I’m not sure why shrinking her is supposed to make her more appealing to a female audience. Anyway it is this Lara Croft lite that we are presented with in this movie.

Because of this I started out with negative feelings towards this movie before having watched it but I was willing to give it a shot. I hated the choice of Michael Keaton as Batman then saw the movie and loved him. I was opposed to Daniel Craig as James Bond then saw CASINO ROYALE and fell in love with his Bond. I have learned that despite my initial reactions I need to give a movie a chance to win me over. I gave TOMB RAIDER this chance and completely wasted my time.

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I would also like to make something perfectly clear. I love Alicia Vikander and think she is a great actress. I loved her in THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. and thought she stole the movie. I also think she did a first rate acting job in this movie. My complaints about her as Lara Croft have nothing to do with her acting and everything to do with her being miscast. She simply doesn’t fit the part. I think Woody Allen is a great actor but I would never cast him as James Bond.

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In the first ten minutes of the movie Lara Croft loses a fight – to another girl. She then loses a bike race, gets arrested, and has to be bailed out by her dead father’s business partner and her former guardian. We then learn that her father has been dead for seven years but Lara has never signed the papers so she could inherit his estate or his money. She has refused to sign the papers believing that somehow by not signing she is keeping him alive. So within the first twenty minutes of the film we learn Lara Croft can’t fight, can’t ride a bike, can’t stay out of trouble, and is stupid enough to think that by not inheriting her father’s money she is accomplishing something. Under ordinary circumstances this is the part where I would walk out the theater.

Ana – her former guardian – points out that if she doesn’t sign the papers they will sell off her father’s estate. She then gives in and in the process discovers a secret room in her father’s tomb. She finds a message from her father describing his research into Himiko an ancient Japanese sorceress queen with the power of life and death. Her father warns her of an evil cabal called Trinity and orders her to destroy all of his research to keep it from falling into the hands of Trinity. Instead she ignores his orders and uses his research to track him down because obviously she thinks she is smarter than her father.

Lara travels to Hong Kong where we discover she doesn’t speak Chinese – another thing she is no good at. She gets her bag stolen and goes after the thieves and what follows is an exciting chase – exciting spelled B-O-R-I-N-G where she is then rescued by a ship’s captain. This Lara needs to be rescued. She hires the ships captain Lu Ren to sail her to her father’s island. The ship is sunk in a violent storm; Lara is washed up ashore the island, and is promptly captured.

Let’s review: forty minutes into the movie and we know Lara can’t fight, can’t ride a bike, can’t stay out of trouble, is stupid, can’t obey orders, doesn’t speak foreign languages, needs to be rescued, and gets captured. And she is supposed to be the hero of the story.

Her captor is Vogel who works for Trinity. He has been on the island for seven years looking for Himiko’s tomb and by the way he killed Lara’s father. He finds her father’s research in her bag and now has all he needs to find the tomb. There was a reason why her Dad said to destroy his research. He then adds Lara and Lu Ren to his considerable slave labor force.

Lu Ren and Lara attempt an escape but only Lara gets away because Lu Ren covers for her. Again she is rescued by him. The movie should have been called LU REN. In the jungle Lara survives rapids, and avoids going over a waterfall on a wrecked plane by using a parachute. You had to be there. That night one of Vogel’s men catches her and they get into a fight. Lara is forced to kill the mercenary – the first good thing she did all movie. But then she cries about it. Gimme a freaking break! The bad guys claim to have killed her father and she watched them murder an old man, they are trying to kill her and she cries about killing one of them? They should have changed her name in this movie from Lara Croft to Lara Soft.

She follows a mysterious figure thru the jungle and it turns out to be her father – alive and kicking! He stayed on the island and let everyone think he is dead in order to stop Trinity from finding the tomb. He is not too pleased to discover that Vogel got his research from Lara and now knows exactly where the tomb is.

The next day Lara sets out to steal Vogel’s satellite phone so they can get the hell off the island. Lara makes contact with Lu Ren and they stage a coup. Lu Ren gets his hands on an assault rifle and guns down bad guys while freeing slaves and Lara manages to steal the satellite phone. Meanwhile, Lara’s Dad makes his way to Himiko’s tomb where he is captured by Vogel. Lara shows up and Vogel forces her to open the tomb or daddy dies. Lara opens the tomb. Predictable.

Vogel, his mercenaries, Lara and her Dad navigate a series of booby traps and locate Himiko’s burial chamber. When one of the mercenaries attempts to move Himiko’s body he is infected by a disease the body carries and the mercenary dies. They then figure out that Himiko was a good guy and had entombed herself to protect mankind from the disease she carries.

Lara and her Dad fight back. Vogel gets away with a sample of the disease. Her Dad gets infected. He then blows up the tomb while Lara fights Vogel and infects him with the disease. She escapes as the whole tomb collapses. She reunites with Yu Ren and the now free slaves and they commandeer the helicopter that came for Vogel.

Back home Lara discovers that Trinity’s front company Patna is owned by Croft Holdings and suspects that her former guardian Ana is a Trinity agent.

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WALTON GOGGINS as VOGEL

What did I like about this movie?

The actors were superb and the cast was perfect. Also, the movie is very pretty and nice to look at.

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What did I not like about this movie?

Everything else! I’m not saying I dislike the movie. I’m not saying I hate the movie. I’m not saying I despise the movie. I ABHOR THIS MOVIE!!! This film is not the worse movie I have ever seen but it is in the top five – and desperately clawing to be number one.

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This movie is an origin movie! I HATE origin movies!! I don’t want to know how Lara Croft becomes the Tomb Raider. Show me the adventure. Show me the action. Give me the engaging characters. Give me a story that invites me in, wraps itself around me like a warm blanket, then transports me to another place. I have no interest whatsoever in seeing how the hero becomes a hero. I am a writer I know all about the hero’s journey but you’re not going to cover it well in a two-hour movie. The first time I saw a James Bond movie I didn’t care how he got to be James Bond. When I watch Sherlock Holmes I don’t care how he got that way. When I plopped down with popcorn to watch ATOMIC BLONDE I didn’t give a rat’s ass how she got so good! What is with this present generation of moviegoers’ unholy obsession with origin stories?

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We were given a watered-down Lara Croft – she doesn’t even use her guns in this movie – and a watered-down adventure. We’ve seen all of this before – Water rapids (THE AFRICAN QUEEN); falling out a plane without a parachute (ERASER); evading traps inside a tomb (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC). Instead of sitting thru this drivel watch RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC it’s better. Watch KONG: SKULL ISLAND it’s better. Watch your niece playing in the backyard it’s better.

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This Lara Croft has no style. She is not engaging whatsoever. There is no reason to care about her. Is she witty? No. Is she charming? No. I will admit she is pretty and she is brave – stupid brave! But that is it. I was told by the filmmakers “This is Lara Croft! Like her!” Well I am sorry but it takes more than that to make me care about a character even if her name is Lara Croft. Does she dress fabulous? No. Does she drive a fabulous car? No. Does she live well? No. Is she kick ass? No! Does she get a look in her face, a smile on her lips, or a glint in her eye that lets you know you’re in for a treat? No, no, and NO! You could change her name to Mary Smith of Hoboken and it would not have made a bit of difference.

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DOMINIC WEST as DAD

In every adventure movie there is a mess – and the hero spends the movie trying to clean up that mess. The mess in this movie is all Lara’s fault! She spends seven years refusing to sign the papers concerning her father’s death. It’s when she finally agrees to do it that she discovers her Dad’s secret workroom. Which means if she had done it seven years ago, or five years ago, or even three years ago, her Dad would not have spent seven years trapped on that damn island and Trinity would not have gotten so close. Her Dad told her to destroy his research. Did she do it? No! Then she goes and gets herself captured and hand delivers her father’s research to the bad guys. They find the tomb because of her! But it has a combination lock and you need the combination to get in. Her Dad refuses to give it to the bad guys. But Lara lets herself get into a Mexican standoff with Vogel and she does not have the balls to do what needs to be done and so she opens the tomb for them! By this time I wanted to shoot her myself. She is the one who does an Indiana Jones and gets the bad guys thru the various traps inside. In the end it is her father who blows up the tomb stopping the menace and killing himself in the process. Her father dies and it is entirely her fault! This whole mess was all her fault. It’s enough to make you puke!

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DANIEL WU as YU REN

Most Tomb Raider stories have a bit of the supernatural in them. There is generally a little bit of magic. Not this story. There are no demons, there are no monsters, and there is no magic. And that is precisely the problem. This movie has no magic whatsoever. I am giving this movie HALF a grey geek and if I could give it even less I would.

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This movie had a budget of between 90 to 106 million dollars. To break even it needed to make back 275 million dollars. It made 275 millions dollars so it broke even. That is all. Generally this would be enough to consider it a flop. But not nowadays. Most of the money this movie made came from the Asian and international market. Since the Chinese liked it we’re getting a sequel. A second Tomb Raider lite movie is planned. God help us all! Excuse me while I go somewhere and throw up.

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2 thoughts on “TOMB RAIDER

  1. I unfortunately disagree with this review so we will have to agree to disagree. I am the generation that needs a good origin story. I was also glad not to see another reboot. I do like that it leaves it open for more. I agree the story line wasn’t the best and it had a few holes but i didn’t hate it. Just saying…lol

    Liked by 1 person

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