Tomb Raider


Viewed – 18 July 2018  Online rental

I’d say it’s more than reasonable to approach videogame adaptations with a degree of trepidation, as many an attempt in the past has resulting in underwhelming or terrible interpretations of a much loved past-time.  This latest offering, a sort of reboot after the Angelina Jolie movies … stars Ex-Machina’s Alicia Vikander as the plucky adventurer.  Following the disappearance of her father Richard Croft, Lara Croft is leaned on by her father’s company to sign papers regarding the family business and her inheritance.  However this leads Lara to launch her own trip to an uncharted island in a hope of solving the mystery of what her father was up to.

Tomb Raider

The story borrows to an extent from the first game in the recently rebooted franchise which gave us a refreshingly mature take on a character who in the past had become more famous for her polygon tits & ass than the games she was starring in.  Despite the source material however, this movie chooses to take it’s own path, leaving behind much of the personality and depth of story-telling in favour of a rather brainless Indiana Jones rip-off.  Sigh.

Vikander, so nuanced in the aforementioned Ex-Machina and potentially a rising star in the making is only passable as Lara despite those ripped abs and overall likeability.  The movie fails to do anything with her character that we haven’t seen before (rich girl hiding her richness?).  Add to this a terrible villain (Walton Goggins) who seems to do every movie villain stupid thing in the book (like choosing never to actually kill Lara or her Chinese deposable friend (Daniel Wu) even when they’re of no more use to him).  Also with an ending that is all sequel-bate with little to no justification for shady organization ‘Trinity’ being on the island …  I came away disappointed that still, Hollywood failed to deliver the care, respect or talent when it came  to a videogame adaptation.

Avoid – unless you’re a total Tomb Raider obsessive … and even then you deserve better.

Verdict:  2 /5

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Ex_Machina


Viewed – 29 January 2015  Cinema

Simply, a single image made me want to see this.  A girl’s pretty face but with a transparent neck where a mechanical bone structure and wires were visible within.  I love science fiction, but there’s been too many movies that have just been throwaway pop corn fluff with sci-fi wrapping that haven’t really got me thinking about the possibilities of technology and what it could mean for our future.  Thankfully this is one such film that really massaged my imagination.

Ex-Machina-Movie-Official-Trailer

Caleb (Domnhall Gleeson)  is a coder at a renowned internet company (think: Google) who wins the chance to spend a week at the home of the company’s reclusive CEO and discover just what he’s been working on behind closed doors.  Once there he meets Nathan (Oscar Isaac), who soon tells him he will be involved in a series of tests with an artificial intelligence called ‘Ava’.

I loved this premise, a single albeit beautifully high-tech (homes of the future) setting and three characters all very different and complex.  Ava, played by the exquisite Alicia Vikander is a revelation – human but subtly artificial, brought to life by not only Alicia’s vulnerably sexy and nuanced performance but also a ground-breaking special effect – she really does look like half girl / half machine with a stunning design with transparent arms, legs and stomach etc.  It harks back to I-Robot with a hint of ‘Hal’ out of 2001 A Space Odyssey and even Hayley Joel Osmet’s performance in A.I.  I loved every moment she was on screen.  Domnhall’s Caleb is equally complex and fascinating, the kid in the candy store but unaware of just what he’s getting himself into … should he find Ava attractive?  Should he really befriend her?  What will the tests all mean for her eventually?  Isaac’s Nathan is less appealing however – a drunken, somewhat clichéd ‘damaged’ genius who clearly is a bit of a bastard, but his presence still fills the movie with an uncertainty, beings as he’s the only one who really knows what’s going on.

I was puzzled by Caleb’s lack of amazement on first seeing Ava … his reaction to such a technological achievement more ‘ok, that’s cool’ – like he sees such like every day.  I’d have also liked to learn more about him too, apart from his parents being in a car crash – what made him really tick?  Nathan is also a pretty blank canvas.  So that leaves Ava, who thankfully doesn’t need a back story – she’s a robot after all, but probably the strongest light in this very different and at time freaky movie.  As a directing debut this is a bold and gripping story from Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Dredd) and shows he’s a voice (and visionary) to really take note of … who has probably delivered one of the best true science fiction tales we’ve seen in a long time.

Verdict:  4 /5