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Movie Night – New ‘Tomb Raider’ offers constant action, adventure

By Bradley Griffith

I love the Indiana Jones movies. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” may be the best movie ever made. At a minimum, it’s in the top 10 movies ever. So, I had high hopes for the new “Tomb Raider” reboot, only to have them squandered. Alicia Vikander does a good job as the title character, but the movie doesn’t come close to measuring up to the Indiana Jones movies.

Lara Croft (Vikander) is the daughter of Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), the wealthy owner of one of England’s largest corporations. Lara and Richard live on a vast estate in the countryside. When Richard doesn’t return from one of his many business trips abroad Lara is crushed. Her world would never be the same again.

Seven years later Lara makes a living as a bike messenger in downtown London, living in a rundown building. She spends her time learning to fight like an MMA fighter and pining over her lost father. After seven years she refuses to admit that he is dead and refuses to sign the papers declaring him deceased, even though such a declaration would mean she would receive tens of millions of dollars as her inheritance.

After being arrested for crashing into a police car on her bicycle during a race. Lara is bailed out by her father’s friend and Lara’s former guardian, Ana Miller (Kristen Scott Thomas). Faced with the prospect of selling off her family estate if she doesn’t claim her inheritance, Lara reluctantly agrees to declare her father deceased.

And that is when the story gets a little interesting. Through a clue and a key left to her by her father on his death, Lara finds the true reason for her father’s many trips abroad. He was an amateur archaeologist. He was searching for a mysterious island off the coast of Japan that was rumored to hold the remains of Himiko, a mythical Japanese sorceress queen. Lara decides to find this island for herself, even though her father made it clear that he wanted all of his research on the subject burned.

The best thing about “Tomb Raider” is the action and adventure that is constant by the time Lara makes it to the island. It’s not just about gunfights or hand-to-hand combat, but about ancient curses and booby traps meant to deter all future explorers. You don’t need to think too hard (or at all) about what she’s doing or you won’t enjoy the completely unbelievable plot and action.

Alicia Vikander is head and shoulders above Angelina Jolie in the same role. Vikander’s Lara Croft is more like an actual person that the unbelievably impervious super warrior that was Jolie’s character. Vikander plays the role with at least a little common sense involved. Also, there’s no love interest in the movie so Vikander doesn’t have to worry about being betrayed by someone she loves and relies on her own skill and grit to save the day rather than her feminine wiles.

The problem with “Tomb Raider” is that it is totally lacking in originality. The writers borrowed far too many scenes and ideas from Indiana Jones. To reach the tomb of Himiko, Lara must pass three challenges, just like Indiana Jones in “The Last Crusade.” The challenges involve crossing a seemingly bottomless chasm with no way to bridge the gap and fake floor tiles that fall away into a bottomless pit with each wrong step, very similar to the challenges the Indy faced in “The Last Crusade.”

In “Raiders of the Lost Ark” the floor was booby trapped with death coming each time a trap was sprung. “Tomb Raider” had very similar traps on the path to the treasure. When they finally reach the crypt of Himiko they open the sarcophagus with baited breath, much like the opening of the ark at the end of “Raiders.” It was all a little too familiar.

While Alicia Vikander performed well in the title role and there were some good adventure scenes, the movie was too derivative of Indiana Jones and other movies to the point that “Tomb Raider” became very predictable.

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Grade: B-

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some language.