Film Review: Tomb Raider (dir by Roar Uthaug)

It seems somewhat appropriate that the new Lara Croft is played by an actress best known for starring in a (very good) movie about artificial intelligence because the latest Tomb Raider film is so generic that it feels as if it could have been written by a robot.

Now, before I get too critical,I should acknowledge that the first 30 minutes of the film is actually a lot of fun.  When we first meet Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander), she’s making her living a bike courier in London.  She delivers food to the hungry, except for when she’s boxing or engaging in bicycle races.  Despite the fact that she comes from a fabulously wealthy family, Lara refuses to accept her inheritance because accepting it would mean acknowledging that her missing father, explorer Richard Croft (Dominic West), is dead.  For those 30 minutes, the film has a fun, kinetic feel to it. As I watched those scenes, I realized that I’d actually be more than happy to watch a full-length film just about people racing around London on bicycles.

(Of course, there’d have to be some dancing, too.  There always has to be dancing.)

But then Kristin Scott-Thomas shows up and informs Lara that, unless she claims her inheritance, Andrew’s estate will be sold off.  At this point, the whole film starts to go downhill.  Naturally, before signing the papers that would declare Andrew to be deceased, Lara stumbles across one final message from her father.  In the message, he asks her to destroy all of his research.  Instead, Lara decides to go to Hong Kong so that she can investigate her father’s disappearance.

(Before she can leave, she has to get money from a pawnbroker who is played, in a rather lengthy cameo, by Nick Frost.  Frost mostly seems to be there so that the audience can go, “Hey, it’s Nick Frost!”)

You can probably already guess everything that happens once Lara arrives in Hong Kong.  It’s hardly a spoiler to inform you that Richard’s not dead and that he’s spent the last few years on an isolated island, trying to prevent the bad guys from tracking down an ancient tomb, one that Richard believes will destroy the world if it’s discovered.  It’s also not a spoiler to tell you that Lara spends a lot of time running through the jungle and trying to escape from collapsing caves.  That’s pretty much what you would expect from a movie called Tomb Raider but, even though the film is presumably giving the audience what they want, it just falls flat.

The problem is that, with the exception of those opening scenes in London, this version of Tomb Raider just isn’t much fun.  As good an actress as she is, Alicia Vikander never really seems comfortable in the role of being an action girl.  Vikander’s great when she’s racing around London and refusing her inheritance but, once she finds herself in the jungle, she just seems lost.  In fact, the only person who seems to be more lost than Alicia Vikander is Walton Goggins, who goes through the motion’s as the film’s villain but who never seems to be that invested in the character one way or the other.  Among the main cast, only Dominic West appears to be enjoying himself.  There’s nothing subtle about West’s performance but that’s exactly what a film like this needs.  Director Roar Uthaug is obviously comfortable with directing action scenes but there’s little of the wit or attention to detail necessary for this film to truly make an impression.

It’s not a terrible movie, don’t get me wrong.  Though it seems like it takes forever for Lara to actually reach it, the tomb is nicely realized and the film features a great score from Junkie XL.  But, ultimately, the most memorable thing about this new Tomb Raider is how forgettable it is.

Music Video of the Day: Call My Name by Priest (2018, dir by Courtney F. Sell)

Today’s music video of the day is the just-released video for Call My Name by Priest.  This song is taken from Priest’s latest album, New Flesh.

Reading the comments on YouTube, it would appear that several people are of the opinion that this video has a Girl With The Dragon Tattoo feel to it.  Myself, I’d say that this video has more in common with David Cronenberg than David Fincher.  I mean, just the title of the album brings to mind Cronenberg’s Videodrome.

That said, I have to admit that, for me, the imagery in the video mostly brought to mind Jean Rollin’s 1970 film, The Nude Vampire.  

Jean Rollin’s The Nude Vampire

As anyone who has regularly read this site over the years can tell you, reminding me of a Jean Rollin film is always a good thing.



Music Video of the Day: Speak To Me Of Abduction by William Control (2013, dir by ????)

Speak To Me Of Abduction is a song that played over the end credits of William Control’s first live DVD, Live in London Town and I absolutely love the song.  As for the video, it’s primarily clips of Wil Francis (a.k.a. William Control) walking around and performing in one of the greatest cities in the world, London!

The city of London was itself founded in 43 AD, by the Romans.  It was originally known as Londinium.  No one is quite sure why the Romans called the town Londinium, though there is speculation that the name was of Celtic origin and originally meant “place that floods.”

I also picked this song because today is … and this not a joke … Alien Abduction Day!  Seriously!  According to this website, Alien Abduction Day is always celebrated on March 20th.  Why, you may ask?  I have no idea.  Maybe someone famous got abducted by aliens on this day.  I’m not even sure how exactly we’re supposed to celebrate Alien Abduction Day.  Should I go out in the woods and stare up at the sky until a bright light appears?  Considering that today is also the first day of Spring, a road trip sounds like fun but I don’t necessarily want to end up getting grabbed by any of those little gray men.  Though, honestly, I don’t think they’re that tough.

I did, however, decide to see if I could find any footage from last year’s Alien Abduction Day.  Here’s the best that I could find:

Seriously, I wouldn’t want to get abducted by one of those things!

I guess my point is that everyone should be careful today.  Remember, alien abductions are always fun until this happens:

Enjoy and keep watching the skies!

Can you prove it didn’t happen?


Music Video of the Day: Beam Me Up by Django Django (2018, dir by John MacLean)

You’re going to have to forgive me if I don’t have much to say about this video.  I’ve been traveling a lot today and, quite frankly, I am exhausted right now.  I calculated it all in my head earlier and, with all of the time zones that I’ve crossed today, my Sunday lasted 28 hours and I was pretty much been awake for every single one of them!

(Time zones are odd, yes?  Personally, I’ve always been obsessed with the International Date Line.)

So, enjoy this video.  It’s for a song called Beam Me Up, which is performed by the British band Django Django.  It’s a good song and I love the video, largely because it never stop moving upward.  We should all try to do the same!


Lisa’s Week in Review: 3/12/18 — 3/18/18

I’m home!  After spending 6 days in London, 2 days in Brighton, 2 days in Edinburgh, and 2 days in Ardglass, Jeff & I are back in the States.  I have to admit that, much like Dorothy, I’m in a bit of a dream state right now.  Going from snow and below freezing temperatures to 80-degree Texas weather in one day will do that to you, I suppose.

This upcoming week is going to be all about catching up.  Not only do I have several movies and books to review on both this site and Horror Critic but I also have a DVR full of programming to watch.  So please, no one spoil how The Bachelor ended…

(Just kidding, I already know.  Wow, Arie sure turned out to be a prick…)

Anyway, here’s last week in review:

Movies I Watched

  1. The Artist (2011)
  2. Gambit (2012)
  3. Lucky (2017)
  4. Tomb Raider (2018)

TV Shows I Watched

  1. 8 out of 10 Cats
  2. American Idol
  3. Back in Time For Tea
  4. Benidorm
  5. Breakfast
  6. Brooklyn 99
  7. Casualty
  8. Film 2018
  9. Mothers, Murderers, and Mistresses: Empresses of Ancient Rome
  10. On Camera: Photographers of the BBC
  11. Pointless Celebrities
  12. The Ruth Ellis Files: A Very British Crime Story
  13. Survivor 36
  14. Top of the Pops
  15. Troy: Fall of a City

Books I Read

  1. Brave (2018) by Rose McGowan
  2. The Woman In The Window (2018) by A.J. Finn

Music To Which I Listened

  1. Blanck Mass
  2. Britney Spears
  3. The Chemical Brothers
  4. Django Django
  5. Jakalope
  6. Moby
  7. Nathan Carter
  8. Souisxie and the Banshees
  9. Taylor Swift

Links From The Site:

  1. I shared 20 Shots From 20 Alfred Hitchcock Films and my favorite Yeats poem!
  2. Erin took a look at The Covers of Alfred Hitchcock Presents!
  3. Gary reviewed The Beatles: Eight Days A Week — The Touring Years and also cleaned out his DVR!  For St. Patrick’s Day, he reviewed The Irish In Us, along with sharing both a cartoon called The Wee Men and Robert Mitchum singing Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral!
  4. Jeff argued that the video for Bush’s Everything Zen was the worst music video of all time!
  5. Ryan reviewed Teaching Comics: Volume One and What is a Glacier?, along with sharing his weekly reading round-up!
  6. Case reviewed Love, Simon and declared it one of the best films of the year so far!

(Check out last week’s week-in-review by clicking here!)

Have a great week!


Spring Break Scenes That I Love: Plane vs Shark from Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus

Hopefully this doesn’t happen to anyone on their way home from Spring Break.

Or me, on my way home from my vacation.

Travel safely!

From 2009’s Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus:

Embracing The Melodrama Part III #8: The Boost (dir by Harold Becker)

Seven days ago, we started embracing the melodrama with my review of No Down Payment, a look at lies and betrayal in suburbia.  Today, we conclude things with 1988’s The Boost, a look at lies, betrayal, and cocaine in California, with the emphasis on cocaine.

From the first minute we meet Lenny Brown (James Woods, at his nerviest best), we assume that he has to be high on something.  He’s a real estate broker and he’s one of those guys who always looks a little bit sleazy no matter how hard he tries otherwise.  His smile is just a little too quick.  He laughs a little bit too eagerly at his own jokes.  He talks constantly, an endless patter of self-serving compliments, nervous jokes, and self-affirming platitudes.  He’s a bundle of nerves but he’s also a brilliant salesman.  We may assume that he’s on coke when we first see him but actually, he doesn’t touch the stuff.  He barely drinks.

Of course, that changes when he’s hired by Max Sherman (Steven Hill).  Max is a philosophical businessman, the type who makes sure that everyone who works for him gets a nice house, a nice car, and several lectures about what’s important in life.  When Max first shows up, it’s tempting to dismiss him as just a self-important businessman but he actually turns out to be a nice guy.  He gives Lenny a ton of good advice.  Unfortunately, Lenny ignores almost all of it.

At first, life is good for Lenny and his wife, Linda (Sean Young).  Lenny is making tons of money, selling houses that can used as a tax shelter or something like that.  (I never understand how any of that stuff works.)  Lenny is making all sorts of new friends, like Joel Miller (John Kapelos) and his wife, Rochelle (Kelle Kerr).  Joel owns four car washes and he’s made a fortune off of them.  All of that money means that he can throw extravagant parties and take nice trips.  It also means that Joel has a never-ending supply of cocaine.  At first, Lenny turns down Joel’s offer of cocaine but eventually he gives in.  At the time, he says that he just needs a little boost.  Soon both Lenny and Linda are addicts.

Of course, nothing goes on forever.  The tax laws change and Max suddenly finds himself out-of-business.  Lenny and Linda lose their house.  They lose their expensive car.  They even lose their private plane.  They end up staying in a tiny apartment.  Lenny says that he can still sell anything and that they’ll be back on top in just a few months.  Of course, even while Lenny is saying this, his main concern is getting more cocaine…

Though dated, The Boost is an effective anti-drug film.  The scene where Lenny overdoses is absolutely harrowing.  Wisely, the film doesn’t deny the fact that cocaine is a lot of fun before you end up losing all of your money and having to move into a cheap apartment with shag carpeting.  It’s a bit like a coke-fueled Days of Wine and Roses, right down to an ending that finds one partner clean and one partner still in the throes of addiction.  James Woods gives a great performance as the self-destructive Lenny, as does Sean Young as his wife and partner in addiction.  And then there’s Steven Hill, providing the voice of gruff wisdom as Max Sherman.  When Max says that he feels that he’s been betrayed, Hill makes you feel as if the entire world has ended.

Speaking of endings, that’s it for this latest installment of Embracing the Melodrama.  I hope you enjoyed this mini-series of reviews and that you will always be willing to embrace the … well, you know.