Thursday 12 July 2018

Tomb Raider ☆☆☆☆☆

There are certain basic truths in Hollywood, and the truest of them all is that you absolutely cannot make a good film based on a video game. You can throw as many lauded filmmakers and talented stars as you want at them, but they’re just cursed. It’s a curse that cannot be broken, even by filmmakers like Justin Kurzel (Assassin’s Creed), Duncan Jones (Warcraft) and Mike Newell (Prince of Persia). These films simply always have been, and always will be, the shit on cinema’s shoe. But as long as Hollywood exists, money will keep getting blindly thrown at these adaptations in futile attempts to break the curse.

This year, we were subjected to another onslaught of Lara Croft action in a fresh reboot on the film franchise, based specifically on the more recent games. But while the character of Lara and her adventures should easily lend themselves to film, here we find ourselves again with our heads in our hands as we attempt to endure 118 minutes of exposition, dreadful dialogue, predictable twists and totally unexciting action set-pieces. Presenting a grittier and more realistic take on the games than the Angelina Jolie efforts, this Tomb Raider follows our heroine as she embarks on her first grand adventure to uncover the mystery of her father’s disappearance on the island of Yamatai. Here, she meets a psychotic rival archaeologist of Lara’s father and a member of shadowy organisation Trinity. Then it just becomes every action thriller ever. There’s literally nothing that makes this Tomb Raider stand out from the pack in any way, to the point where it feels like everyone involved knows that and has made peace with it.

That said, Alicia Vikander is a terrific Lara Croft for 2018. The Oscar-winning actress puts in a decent performance and certainly looks the part, while Walton Goggins steals the show (as he so often does) as villain Vogel. But on the whole, there aren’t any particularly exciting performances here. The acting is fine, but nowhere near awards calibre. I’m not suggesting it should be for an action thriller, but when the action is bland and the thrills tame, without at least some acting chops the film falls apart.

I know, I can almost hear you saying “but films like this are just supposed to be fun, they’re not trying to win Oscars” – I understand that, but this wasn’t even fun. It was painfully paced (I thought at least an hour had passed when I hit the 30minute mark), predictable and unengrossing. They say the sign of a good film is one that transports you so intensely into its world, you have no grasp of time. You don’t check your watch, and when the ending comes, you’re surprised. I spent more time looking at my watch than the screen when I was watching Tomb Raider. I think that says it all.

So, in conclusion, would I recommend Tomb Raider? I’d recommend the games, sure. Who wouldn’t? But this film is an abomination of cookie-cutter ‘entertainment’ that was tediously uninteresting for every single one of its 118 minutes. To quote the late great Bill Hicks, “I don't mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that's how it comes out”. I watched Tomb Raider so you don’t have to, and spent the next 24 hours in the shower desperately trying to wash its stench and filth off of myself. Who knows if I will ever be clean again. I hated Tomb Raider. Can you tell? 

Sam Love

Tomb Raider at CeX

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