Tomb Raider (2018) — Reboots on the ground

“Some men like dangerous women.”

Justin’s rating: Shot through the heart and you’re to blame, you give tomb raiding a bad name

Justin’s review: I’m just tired of living in the Reboot Generation. I’m tired of seeing Star Wars start over and Star Trek start over. I’m tired of all of the Fantastic Fours, the Ghostbusters, the Hellboys, the Conan the Barbarians, the RoboCops, and the rest. When the best case scenario for a reboot is that it invalidates the movies that you like and the worst case is that it taints the whole franchise, I say it’s best not to go down that path.

But Hollywood does, because there’s always that hope that a hit franchise will rev back up and produce sequel babies of its own. Doesn’t happen often — not often enough to justify this reboot plague, in my opinion — but it doesn’t stop movie studios from trying.

And so, fifteen years after Angelina Jolie hung up her twin pistols and walked away from Lara Croft, Tomb Raider was given the reboot treatment with Alicia Vikander stepping into the lead role. This time, we get an origin story for our fearless archaeologist, taking us as far away from Jolie’s posh British lifestyle as possible.

Instead, Tomb Raider’s 20-year-old Lara is a poor street courier who’s turned her back on her family’s fortune to tough it out. So instead of a well-funded socialite with guns and all of the short shorts in the world, Lara has to make do with bows, arrows, and a piton or two. This kind of matches up with how the video game series rebooted in 2013 to downplay the sexy factor and ridiculous events (no T. Rexes here) in order to make it more “realistic.” More like Hunger Games, I say.

Reluctantly returning to her long-lost father’s manor, Lana finds a few clues that sets her off on her first big adventure to find the tomb of a mythical Chinese queen who allegedly had the power of life and death. Scrappy-Doo she is, she heads over to Asia and follows her father’s trail. Suffice to say, sacred burial grounds will be raided, chasms will be leaped, and booby traps will be sprung and then narrowly avoided.

While I’m all for pulpy Indiana Jones-like adventures, I want characters I can actually root for. Jolie’s Lara Croft wasn’t a deep well of details, but she was vivacious and likable. Vikander’s Croft, however, doesn’t even have that. She’s kind of this blank slate that other characters project onto — “I know you hate being told what to do,” her father says from a video screen at one point — but the filmmakers waste an opportunity to give us a deeper and more nuanced character. By the time she’s muddy and has a few cosmetic tears in her outfit, she’s nothing more or less than ActionGirl #3154.

And that’s why Tomb Raider didn’t really blow up the way the studios hoped it would. Oh, it did decently and even has its big fans, but there’s too much reboot goosh all over that’s holding it back. It’s capable. Capable. But exciting? Not quite  that much.

Thus, another reboot enters the annals of forgettability where, three years later, it’s not on the lips of anyone except thorough movie reviewers.

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