For men of a certain age, it’s hard to get Angelina Jolie out of your head when you think of Lara Croft. Jolie played Croft exactly like she is in the video game, which I grew up on, so that’s how I imagine Jolie in real life.
You know. Super beautiful, cocky, jumping from building to building while shooting two guns as her perfect hair whips around in the wind.
Overall, this reboot of the “Tomb Raider” franchise is a pretty entertaining movie with plenty of action scenes, thrills and an interesting main character.
But this Lara Croft is just starting out. The movie is telling the origin of how Lara Croft becomes this amazing hero. It was good to see her character struggle to find her way.
This works because as she fails, she is learning. Also, what makes it believable is that Lara has a strong moral compass, so she does fail, but is trying to do the right thing. This makes you cheer for her to succeed.
The movie plot centers around Lara’s father’s disappearance and death on a Japanese island. The island is the burial ground of an ancient Japanese queen, Himiko, who was known as the goddess of death. Lara’s father was trying to keep the tomb hidden so that her curse will never get out into the world.
Unfortunately, the island is already crawling with bad guys who want to steal the queen’s power to create weapons. This is where, a la Indiana Jones, they must pass a test of endurance and danger (a tomb raid) in order to reach Queen Himiko.
Things that I liked about the movie (spoiler alert):
• There are some clever action scenes. The bike scene where Lara is the fox in a foxhunt style game with bicycles was very exciting. There is a scene with a waterfall and an old plane that will make your heart jump out or your chest. Then there’s a scene of a boat shipwreck that made me feel like I was right on the boat as it crashed into the rocks.
• I really liked the independence of the Lara Croft character. She is super rich and will not take her inheritance (billions) in order to continue to look for her father. I mean, for that kind of money, I would declare my Dad dead right as he is standing next to me! I am kidding (I think).
• The movie had a good pace. There was really no waste of scenes and the action kept moving along.
Things I did not like about the movie:
• How many times can a character almost fall to her death only to reach out and hold on with one hand? I guess the answer is a lot of times, because this must have happened about 10 times! Come on writers, get creative (watch the Indiana Jones movies — except the last one with the aliens that was trash — for some inspiration on getting your characters out of danger).
• There was huge build up as to when they reach Queen Himiko and the great power she would unleash upon the world. I don’t want to spoil it, but it was a bit of a letdown. I was expecting something dramatic and grand. Instead we got a lame “Walking Dead” situation.
• I was hoping for more humor. You had Walter Goggins in there as a rival archaeologist and Daniel Wu (Sonny from “Into the Badlands”), so there was room here for at least some wit. Alicia Vikander looked the part, but it just came off as bland and dull too often to make this a true classic.
The Academy Award for most dramatic slow-motion jumps goes to Lara Croft. I think this character can jump clear across the Grand Canyon and land standing up.
Rating on a scale of movies that were made from video games, with “Street Fighter” (1994) being a zero (this hurts because I am Van Damme fan, but, damn, that movie stunk) and “Mortal Kombat” (1995) being a 10, I would give this movie a 7.9, which is like an “Assassin’s Creed” (2016).