It’s a reasonably lively origin story that might occasionally cause you to look up from your popcorn. Rating: 2 1/2 stars out of 4.
Ranking fairly high in the category of I Didn’t Know We Needed This is the new “Tomb Raider” movie, based on the Lara Croft video-game franchise and starring Alicia Vikander. Not to be confused with “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” the 2001 movie starring Angelina Jolie (the details of which escape me, even though I saw it). It’s interesting that both Jolie and Vikander, fresh off winning Academy Awards (for 2000’s “Girl, Interrupted” and 2015’s “The Danish Girl,” respectively), quickly ended up playing a video-game character. Really, Hollywood, is this all there is?
That said, this “Tomb Raider” isn’t so bad (how’s that for a blurb?) and might occasionally cause you to look up from your popcorn. It’s a reasonably lively origin story, in which we meet 21-year-old Lara as an aimless London drifter, desperately missing the father (Dominic West) who left her behind seven years ago. She refuses to take over his vast holdings, insisting that he’s not dead. So insistent, in fact, that she bribes a reluctant Hong Kong sailor (Daniel Wu) to take her to a remote, dangerous island off the coast of Japan — her father’s last-known destination.
And then, tombs get raided (you knew that was coming), arrows are shot, bullets are dodged, villains snarl, and death on a raging waterfall is evaded by means of a rusted-out plane. (The latter sequence is, I will admit, a nice little nail-biter.) Vikander doesn’t have much to play, script-wise, but she makes a tough, appealing action star; clearly nothing can kill Lara Croft, including the late subterranean arrival of what I described in my notes by the highly technical term of “weird rolling blade thingies.” The whole thing absolutely looks and feels like a video game — but one in which the great Kristin Scott Thomas, in a small but crucial role, deploys her trademark cat-that-ate-the-canary smile. Come to think of it, that might be something we needed.
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★★½ “Tomb Raider,” with Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas. Directed by Roar Uthaug, from a screenplay by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons. 118 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some language. Several theaters.