Friday, 16 March 2018



Having now rebooted, revived, remade and reanimated pretty much everything from previous generations that was any good and a lot that wasn't, having scraped the barrel dry with second stabs at rubbish old TV shows and forgotten slasher movies in a frenzy of misplaced nostalgia for things that nobody was really asking for all over again, we're now moving into the 90s and a whole new and unexciting range of things that we haven't missed but were somehow milestones in the current crop of younger executives' childhoods. In truth we were never that fussed about Tomb Raider, a computer game where you had to make a pixelated woman run around in skimpy shorts and make her jump in the air repeatedly so you could could get a quick flash of her digitised pants. We passed a couple of wet afternoons with two very ho-hum and mostly forgotten Angelina Jolie movies out of it, and then got on with our lives.

For some absolutely unfathomable reason, Lara Croft is back, in what I hope is the worst, dumbest and least interesting film of the year, simply because I don't want to see anything else this terrible for the remainder of 2018 and, with any luck, a long way beyond. Seven years ago, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West) disappeared on a mythical Japanese island searching for the tomb of Himiko, a legendary sorceress whose instant touch meant death and whose remains are still so potentially powerful that they must never fall into the wrong hands. Lara, who is an idiot, has never acknowledged the near-certainty of her father's death, instead struggling (and failing) to make her own life as a bicycle courier, while ignoring the colossal inheritance of manor house and billion-dollar global business empire that's hers at the stroke of a solicitor's pen. When she's finally forced to accept it, she inherits a key to her father's secret lair and a video message telling her to destroy all his Himiko files. Because she's an idiot, Lara instead takes the information to Japan to locate the island, and her beloved father - and runs straight into a shadowy terror organisation called Trinity who want Himiko's remains to weaponise for a global genocide....

Essentially Tomb Raider is Daddy Issues And The Last Crusade: father and child endeavour to stop villains from acquring powerful relic of legend for their own ends and immediately lead the aforementioned villains right to it. Lara's insistence on deliberately doing the absolute wrong thing at any and every given moment for the dumbest of reasons (usually her devotion to her long-lost father) redefines wilful stupidity for a new century. Worse: it's no fun. The villains aren't colourfully nasty, they're just nasty, the score (Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL) lends the film no lightness or thrills, and the film's big mystery behind-the-scenes villain is so obvious they might as well have been wearing a T-shirt with Villain stencilled across it in luminous capitals. And it ends with the clear intent of setting up a franchise in which Lara jets off around the world battling assorted factions of the Trinity Group.

There's a nice bit of business with an old Second World War bomber perched over a waterfall, there's an amusing cameo from Nick Frost, and once it gets going it doesn't hang about (although the tearful parting towards the end takes so long the escaping villain could be halfway to Wisconsin by the time she finally gives chase). And Alicia Vikander leaps and runs around perfectly well in a series of moments which look like they were all levels on the original computer game, with steadily collapsing floors, sinking ships, or a chase across a harbour. There also appear to be a lot of moments where Lara dangles above a chasm by the fingertips. But this really isn't enough: for so much action and stuff going on it's strangely dull, with no real emotional connection beyond the level of soap opera and no surprises on show. Directed by Roar Uthaug, of snowy slasher Cold Prey and tsunami spectacular The Wave, both of which are much more satisfying.


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