Tomb Raider, 2018 [Movie Review]

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Watched the Tomb Raider movie this past weekend. I’m admittedly torn about it how to react to it…

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed the movie to the point where I would pay to watch a sequel, but there were problems.
The gaming franchise was never anything too deep or profound – but it has it’s strong points and is an iconic part of pop culture for my generation. I didn’t play the recent ones at all but I played the first two and it was unique in many ways and Lara was a rare kind of female badass which alone gave here  a special standing – whines about her being sexified at the time notwithstanding.

This was definitely a better movie in many ways to the previous Angelina Jolie flicks – though the 1st one was definitely a little more… simple fun in a way… Plus the fact that it didn’t take itself seriously and Jolie was clearly seeming to have too much fun playing the part just made it an entertainer. The sequel was a turd of a story so let’s just forget about it.

This movie has way more grit and more character instead of just being cliched or cheesy. The action was pretty damn solid and the cinematography and so on were pretty easy on the eyes, especially appreciated was very little irritating editing, i.e,  jarring-and-constant-cutting that is too often in action movies now. (cough!*SpewsideSqwad!*cough!)

Alicia Vikander was utterly fantastic and a perfect choice. She played all the facets of Lara Croft well, playing vulnerable-yet-strong is hard enough and doing it in the middle of an action/mystery/adventure story is harder still in some ways I think. Excellent choice by the makers and what little I saw in a video clip of the training she put herself through for the role and how well it shows on screen makes her commitment to the part more commendable. She’s a big part of why I would want a sequel – her performance deserves a better script and a greater chance to shine.
The supporting cast too was decent and did well with the material they were given and overall I have little to no complaints. A nice surprise that I hadn’t known about was Daniel Wu in a small but amusing supporting role – if you don’t know him, you’ll see him in a lot of Chinese/Hong Kong cinema and if you’re lucky like me, you’ll have seen him as Sunny in Into The Badlands; he is a very understated but good screen presence.
Walton Goggins made for a fantastic villain – I really like the man, he is a pretty damn good actor and played his part well. He even felt like a different kind of villain than one often see’s in such movies a little and given that he took the limited material he had and really gave us a nice, creepy villain. So much so that I would have been happy to see him return to the role in a sequel. (Yes, I clearly want to see a sequel to this movie…)

Most of the way through it, I was expecting to rate this movie very highly… but then something sad happened. The end of it. And I don’t mean I was simply sad to see the movie end – I was just sad to see it end the way it did. And I don’t mean the whole final act, I mean literally what must have been the last 15-20 minutes of the movie at most.
It was full of bad cliche-ing.
It was hasty and had a lot of obvious stuff going on and you had characters inexplicably doing summarily stupid shit that made me actually shout at the screen a couple of times (which I almost never do!) and completely broke the flow of a movie I had otherwise been enjoying.
It. Was. Shitty. Writing.
It was like they wrote 90% of a perfectly good movie and then either got shit-faced drunk or were just trying to brain-fart-speed-write the final scenes on the fly or something.

And to top that off, they took one of the biggest examples of a long-standing pop-culture female action hero and made her half-assed. She didn’t have to be a jack-of-all-weapons badass like Jolie’s incarnation, but she also didn’t have to be constantly barely holding her own and oft getting whupped pretty easily. I just feel that apart from a sequence with a bow and arrow and a handful of bits, the rest of the time they made her not formidable enough as a fictional action hero and in my view at least, failed in this regard too often.

Lastly, the obsessive need to focus on the father-daughter relationship… it is (a) NOT, I repeat, NOT the original origin story and not the ONLY origin story, Lara has had multiple variations across games, comics and movie, (b) it was definitely handled better in the Jolie movies and frankly doing it the way they did here just made it feel like a ripoff of that and (c) …that god-damned cheesy-as-fuck two-fingered-kiss-salute she and her dad have that they keep ramming in the audiences face… I was letting it slide but they shoved it over and over and over in the 2nd half and it started to pissed me off and really is a trope I despise in movies because pretty much no one does it well and this one was particularly shitty and felt cheesier still in the movie they were jamming it into…

So… in the end, I do recommend it and I do think that this was a not-bad but not-great origin/starter movie.
They should have polished the script a wee bit more, especially that ending.

But I would absolutely like to see a slightly better crafted sequel and ESPECIALLY I want to see Vikander take on this role again under a better scripting-team. The direction, visual effects, action and all were just fine by me – but they definitely need a little help with the script.

It has it’s flaws and it has it’s bad moments – but overall it is a good, entertaining outing and does reasonably well by its source material which itself has had more than one incarnation/version.

And I will say this for the record: In some respects this paid better tribute to the video-game origins than the first movie.

ACTING: 7-8/10
SCRIPT: 6/10
VISUALS: 8/10
ACTION: 7-8/10
OVERALL: 7.3/10


 

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