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Review: “Tomb Raider” Trades Dumb Adventure for Dull Grit

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Tombraider

The original Tomb Raider movies received a lot of flak for being silly, but they were honestly no more silly than most James Bond style treasure hunting films. Those directors and Angelina Jolie were smart enough to know that you can’t make movies about the Illuminati, attacking statues, and golden spheres too seriously. Still, most fans and critics didn’t seem to dig it, and this remake aims to avoid all the ridiculousness of its predecessors. There are no goofy gadgets, silly outfits, over-the-top action sequences, or even supernatural hijinks. All the stuff that was considered too stupid for whatever dignity the Tomb Raider series had is now replaced with a bland adventure, smeared in dirt and melodrama.

Alicia Vikander now plays Lara Croft as a young troublemaker, not too keen on inheriting her missing father’s fortune. She’d rather be boxing and bike riding than being stuck in boardrooms and conferences calls. It turns out the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when she discovers her father’s secret lair of his treasure hunting side-project. Perhaps there’s a clue in all his documents about where he disappeared to for all these years. Perhaps he was seeking some ancient artifact of untold power. Perhaps there’s some evil man who wants for himself.

All of this is to be expected, and Tomb Raider doesn’t stray off course from this subgenre. The writing is so narrowly focused on uncovering the secret of the mythical Himiko and her death curse that it never stops to let a character catch their breath. This pacing quickly kicks Vikander into a number of intense action scenes where she gets to leap from boats, scale rocks, and escape from a crashing plane. This direction also doesn’t allow much room for character, making her daughter-father arc so unbelievably cheesy it practically nullifies whatever darker tone the film was going for.

To compensate for the lack of charisma, Tomb Raider goes the extra mile to turn Vikander into the ultimate action star by having her get down and dirty; she’ll battle a man to the death in the mud and pull a glass shard out of her belly. It gets pretty brutal at times and would be enjoyable if not for the sad fact that I knew all of this would be leading up to a tomb with traps and curses that will explode.

The villain of the picture is played by Walton Goggins, a man who can dominate the screen if allowed to. Unfortunately, he’s stuck in a role where he can only act like a crazy tyrant by merely saying he is crazy. He also has two daughters that he misses, but you won’t see them past a mere mention. We just have to take his word for it that he’s a maniacal figure working for an evil organization. Which organization and what do they want? Therein lies the film’s ultimate twist which, while unexpected, teases a much better story had it not been saved for a climactic stinger.

While there’s no shortage of action, it’s amazing how a film such as Tomb Raider strives to be so lackluster with its supporting elements, threatening to not fall into typical trope traps, only to end up being boring by avoiding them. Dominic West could have carried some emotion as Lara’s dad, but he’s oddly restrained in moments where there should be more to film’s indulgent sappiness. Daniel Wu plays the supporting role of a sea captain that may fancy Lara, but he does little more than provide cover fire as his pathos is kicked to the curb. Even the tomb feels par for the course as far as movie deathtraps go, with the usual decorations of spiders crawling over skeletons and hidden spikes that spring out of the floor.

For as uneven as Tomb Raider plays, I must admit it does share a commonality with the video games in the puzzles Lara must solve. Himiko’s tomb can only be accessed by spinning rims in a specific order and matching colors to light. All that’s missing is the onscreen prompt of “Push A” and you have yourself a bonafide full-motion video game right there. Unfortunately, this is a movie and one where I wish the quick-time events slowed down over the two-hour running time to allow for characters and energy as strong as Vikander’s kicks.

[author title=”About the Author” image=”http://popstermedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/mark_mcpherson-300×221-150×150.jpg”]Movie Reviewer Mark McPherson has been all about movies since working at a video store in his youth. His talents range from video editing to animation to web development, but movies have always been his passion to write about.[/author]

Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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