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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 17, 2018

Tomb Raider - Lara Croft Movie Review: Alicia Vikander Is Buff And Competent But She Lacks The Oozing Sexiness Of The Original Tomb Raider Who's Brad Pitt's Ex-Wife

“TOMB RAIDER, LARA CROFT” is a video game that was first filmed in 2001 starring Angelina Jolie. It’s a hit action-adventure flick and had a sequel in 2003, “Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life”. It now gets a reboot with Swedish actress Alicia Vikander in the title role, after the video game itself also had a reboot in 2013.

Angelina has won the Oscar best supporting actress award then for “Girl Interrupted” and Alicia has won the same award for “Danish Girl”, where she actually played a lead role. Both movies are crafted like the Indiana Jones chill-hanging franchise with Harrison Ford, which is definitely far more superior.

In the original, Lara travels around the globe to look for two pieces of a triangle that can reverse time. The new version is also an origin story about how she became a Tomb Raider. Lara has a rich businessman dad who goes missing. Her dad (Dominic West; in the original, it’s Jon Voight, the real life dad of Angelina) is often busy traveling, leaving the little girl Lara alone.

She’s supposed to inherit a big fortune from him but she refuses to sign the documents that declare her dad is already dead. She doesn’t want the trappings of a filthy rich life so she opts for a very simple lifestyle, working as a food delivery girl.

Thus, we get to meet Lara before she begins exploring ancient tombs and temples. She’s more vulnerable but no less feisty than Jolie’s version. In her first fight scene, a match on the ring with another girl, she is shown losing. In a contest with other bikers, she also loses again. She’s very independent and very capable of defending herself to show she’s an empowered woman.

She finds records of her dad’s last expedition to a secret island in Japan to look for the queen of death called Himiko buried deep inside the island, just like The Mummy. To further discover what caused her dad’s mysterious disappearance, she goes to Hong Kong. She is quickly harrassed by some Chinese snatchers who steal her backpack, so she chases them and this is how she meets a new ally, Lu Ren, a drunken sailor whose boat, Endurance, they use to sail to the island of Yamatai. This is played by Daniel Wu, an American actor of Chinese origin. In the original, Lara’s partner is also a Daniel, Craig, no less than 007 himself.

We admire Alicia for enduring all the physical battering that she is subjected to in the movie. To show how brave she is, she is gored in the tummy by a sharp piece of metal and her wound is stiched up without any anesthetic. She has magnificent abs and you can see she really wants to establish herself as an action star, but what she lacks is the oozing charisma and sexiness of Brad Pitt’s ex-wife.

The movie is directed by a Norwegian, Roar Uthaugh, best known for the disaster flick, “The Wave”, which we saw in DVD and is about a dam that burst. This is his Hollywood debut and in fairness to him, in a film full of intriguing puzzles that Lara has to solve, stately manors with many secrets, underground crypts with deadly booby traps, a thrilling boat ride on the Devil’s Sea in the middle of a storm, a strange queen with mystical powers that threaten genocide, he comes up with a number of exciting sequences like the ones in a video game.

One of these shows Lara falling into a raging river and then about to fall again into a deadly waterfall when she manages to hang onto the wreck of an airplane that eventually also falls into the river. But ultimately, of course, the video game is much more exciting because you can be an active participant handling the controller while you’re playing the game. Here, you are just a passive viewer.

Yes, there’s a generic one-dimensional villain, Vogel (Walton Goggins), who wants to get Himiko for himself and the company he works for, without knowing what the consequences of his action will be. He doesn’t really appear to be that threatening to be taken seriously enough. Dominic West as the dad, Lord Richard Croft, registers better as he brings emotional resonance in the story of Lara and in their scenes together, particularly toward the climax when he does an act of supreme sacrifice.

Daniel Wu is actually wasted here and is not given much to do. Will the movie capture today’s generation of viewers for it to merit a sequel like Jolie’s version did? Judging from the hint in the ending, they’re really preparing for a Part 2 and it seems the villain will be Kristin Scott Thomas as Ana Miller, who represents a sinister big company called Trinity that’s up to a lot more mischief.