By Allison Skornick-Rose

Mar 14, 2018 05:05 PM EST


Tomb Raider Theatrical Review

Vikander had been on an upward trajectory career wise for the last few years and playing this well-known action heroine is just another feather in her cap.

In 1996, gamers worldwide were introduced to Lara Croft in the video game Tomb Raider.  Described as "Indiana Jones with breasts", she became an instant hit with the heavily male based demographic. In 2001, Paramount Pictures brought Croft to life in the form of Angelina Jolie (Wanted; Mr. & Mrs. Smith) when Lara Croft: Tomb Raider hit theaters that summer.  While garnering mixed reviews, the movie earned a sequel in 2003 called Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Then, in 2013, the video game got a reboot and now Warner Bros. has done the same for the film series with Tomb Raider set to be released nationwide this week.

Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander; Ex Machina, The Danish Girl) seems to have lost her way after her father's disappearance while on an expedition off the coast of Japan.  Refusing to believe he was dead, she wouldn't sign the paperwork to earn her inheritance and struggled for years. As she is about to give in, she is given a puzzle that unlocks a clue and a key her father, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West; The Wire), left for her.  In his hidden office, Lara discovers her father was more than he seemed and was actually researching a "supernatural" Queen who brought death everywhere she went. The legend states she was buried alive on a hidden island that Croft was determined to find.

With his notes in hand (even though he left her strict instructions to burn them), Lara heads off to find this elusive island and find out what actually happened to him.  When she discovers the island by accident, she finds a lot more than she could have ever imagined.  Suddenly a fugitive, Lara must traverse an unfamiliar and unforgiving jungle, fight the bad guys with a strength she didn't even know she had, and finally let her father go forever.

Vikander had been on an upward trajectory career-wise for the last few years and playing this well-known action heroine is just another feather in her cap.  She expertly delivers both the emotional and physical power needed to make Lara Croft come to life.  West is also good as her father but Walter Goggins (Justified) is terrifying as the antagonist.  His cold, cruel demeanor will chill you from within.  Supporting cast members Kristin Scott Thomas (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Daniel Wu (Warcraft: The Beginning) also add to the overall fight of good vs. evil.

The story itself is somewhat interesting but the delivery is lackluster at best.  The film starts off slow and doesn't pick up steam until halfway through when Croft and Lu Ren (Wu) are unceremoniously shipwrecked on the island.  The quick movements and frenetic shots utilized by director Roar Uthaug (The Wave) are all over the place and I remember at one point in the beginning of the movie thinking "it's a good thing I'm not epileptic because the flashes of scenes would probably send someone into a seizure".  

The only parts of Tomb Raider I really enjoyed were the puzzles and the discovery of what really was behind the "Death Queen" and her entombment.  In those moments, I was reminded of NationalTreasure, a Dan Brown Novel and, of course, Indiana Jones.  To his credit, Uthaug doesn't drag the action sequences out too long but some of his other takes could have easily been shortened without much difference in the overall look and feel of the movie.  Sadly, they have set up the ending to leave room for numerous sequels,  which this film does not warrant.

Tomb Raider didn't need a reboot and it certainly doesn't need another film.  It wasn't awful but it wasn't anything to write home about either.

Grade: B-

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MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 118 minutes
Distributed By: Warner Bros.

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