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"How Romantic Was That?" Review of 'Tomb Raider'

Bianca Rowena was born in Romania and now lives in Canada. She is the author of The Virgin Diaries and The Gift Stone YA book series.

I really wanted to love this movie. The trailer for it was spectacular! I imagined an Indiana Jones meets Jurassic Park type-film, with a dash of romance. I'm not a huge fan of action movies, and I admit I haven't seen a lot of run-and-gun films in my life, but this one looked promising.

I want to start by acknowledging the cinematography in this film and beautiful landscapes, which were exemplary. I never overlook the work of the cinematographer/director/lighting crew in a film. I think sometimes movie goers take for granted the massive talent and hard work of film crews on movies like this one, as though everything can be conjured up by some magical thing called CG. But the scenery in this film was real, parts of the island scenes were filmed in South Africa, the London streets were real where they had the bike race (which, by the way, was the highlight of the film). It was all brilliant.

Unfortunately, a film's worth is valued more by its script and the emotion it creates in the viewer, than the nice shots. That is why it makes me truly sad that, despite this film being so beautifully filmed, it was overall quite disappointing.

There are many ways for a movie to go wrong, and “Tomb Raider” goes wrong in many of the most obvious: It has a generic story, bad writing, a miscast lead, the wrong director and no fun.

— New York Times

Even the award-deserving cinematography couldn't save this movie for me, and not just because there was no romantic element, at all. The script was overly basic, using every predictable 'adventure story' trope in the book; a search for a lost father, a treasure map, an island, a booby trapped maze with collapsing floors, the fate of mankind at stake, even a main character who can make it through anything, sometimes by sheer chance, and remain in perfect condition after endless tumbles, falls, fights and deathly blows, all of which need no healing time. Basically, Lara Croft could survive anything and keep on going, without even a drop of water to drink!

But I won't fault an adventure movie for using adventure movie tropes. What I will fault is there should have been more. The emotions the movie attempted to evoke in the viewer fell flat.

I may have still enjoyed the film, as simply a run-and-gun flick, but (spoilers) when it reached the zombie-like part, near the end, I was done. I even considered leaving the theater, namely because I had my daughter with me. I was looking forward to taking her to a 'strong-female-lead' type film with Indiana-Jones-like adventure in it. I naively imagined it would give her a sense of empowerment and a thrilling ride, like Jurassic Park did for me when I was younger. But what we got was the lovely Lara Croft suffering many beatings, bruisings, falls, and even getting stabbed by some metal piece, and all for what? To look for her absentee father, whom I really didn't think was worthy of being found.

When all the one-dimensional supporting characters and familiar action moves fall by the wayside, the one thing left standing is Vikander... The film strains credulity even for a vid-game fantasy by letting the leading lady recover awfully quickly from bad injuries, but other than that Vikander commands attention and is the element here that makes Tomb Raider sort of watchable.

— www.hollywoodreporter.com

So How Romantic Was This Film?

After watching the movie trailer for Tomb Raider, I decided to go see it, despite my aversion to action films. This one looked as though it would have some romantic element, perhaps an exciting side romance with the interesting young man in the film trailer, to whom Lara says, "It will be an adventure," and to which the young man aptly replies, "Death, is not an adventure."

I was excited! Yes, let the brave young duo have an adventure together! Surely there will be a Disney-like kiss in this action packed film, if nothing else.

But there was nothing of the sort. In fact, I wasn't able to engage in any of the emotions this film attempted to produce. Lara's love for her farther, for example, was hard to relate to. I would have been a lot less forgiving, if I was Lara, of his selfish life decisions to leave her behind throughout her childhood. This abandonment was apparently due to Mr. Croft's pursuit of a death-queen legend, which he hoped would prove that there is in fact an afterlife. Why did he need to be assured of this life after death? Because his wife died and he wanted to know, for certain, that she still lived on.

This is absurd. What about his daughter, his wife's child, who was literally a living part of his wife? I just didn't buy Lara's father's reasoning for deserting her, his only child, and missing out on her growing up. To me, he seemed nothing more than a selfish father who neglected his one true responsibility in life, his daughter. So I could not connect with Lara's love for her father, where I felt anger should have been, nor his claim to love her. I just couldn't get into this movie. And the gross onslaught of zombie-like scenes at the end made this a terrible choice of film to take a young girl to, or even a woman like myself.

I give this movie a Romantic Rating of zero. It had a below average screenplay, cringe-worthy dialogue and, well, no romance at all. So, if you're like me and relish in the romantic elements of a film, even the smallest bits, then this movie isn't for you.


Benskyroo on January 30, 2019:

Exactly! There was so much opportunity for emotional characters in this movie and none were developed. Even when folks died the takeaway from the viewer was "meh". Loved this movie but it could have been so much more.

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