Indiana Croft And The Temple Of Gloom: A Review of "Tomb Raider"
Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was one of those instant modern classics where we were taken on a thrill a minute ride: and in the new reboot of Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, we find in the film’s homestretch, scenes that are reverential salutes to the Spielberg film. It’s in this reboot’s insistence on taking a more realistic, origins approach, that the film will either sink or swim. Ponderous and super serious from the outset, it’s like director Roar Uthaug (is that a wonderful name or what?) is purposely distancing himself from previous iterations of Lara Croft; i.e. the 2001 badass Angelina Jolie versions. Visually, the other source material is the 2013 video game, that was such a hit.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen how far film adaptations of video games have gone - Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed being two recent misguided examples. So having said all that, what are we left with? Thankfully, one answer to that question is Alicia Vikander. A proven accomplished actress, Vikander is a credible, non-Superwoman, Lara Croft; and brings unexpected pathos to such scenes as Croft’s first kill. She’s constantly trying to rise above the mediocre screenplay, and partially succeeds. It’s to her credit that given the loose ending we’re gifted with, the second instalment (if it ever sees the light of day) could actually have a more engaging storyline and be something to anticipate.
And it’s in the missed opportunities that I have to report on the ‘what could have been’. You have Kristin Scott Thomas and Dominic West in the cast, but you don’t really make much of fleshing out the characters they portray, despite their impeccable acting credentials. Nick Frost has a recurring tiny role, and while making the most of the chance to inject some humour, he doesn’t make much of an impression. Walton Goggins plays the main villain; but while he has excelled in his television work; here, he’s an anaemic shadow of the characters he’s portrayed in TV series. Daniel Wu does fine as Lara’s accomplice Len Ru; but even his back story, which has so much potential, is never truly realised.
Thanks to Wonder Woman last year, there is a renewed interest in letting women take the centre stage of comic book and video game film adaptations - but if Red Sparrow and Tomb Raider are what we get, I can’t vouch for the trend to last that long. In a month when the origins story of Black Panther hit the screens with such impact, I feel sorry for Vikander and Tomb Raider.
Photos from tombraidermovie.com