Tomb Raider Movie Review

Tomb Raider finds Alicia Vikander following in the career footsteps of Angelina Jolie – win yourself a Best Supporting Actress Oscar and headline a big-budget adaptation of a well-known video game. Lara Croft is back in a reboot that finds this London girl’s life as a bike courier interrupted by her tomb raidin’ father’s discoveries on a remote island.

Vikander’s Croft has been separated from father Richard (Dominic West) for seven years after he took off on a mission called Himiko and vanished. His task was to locate the resting place of a mythical queen on a remote island who can destroy the world. When Lara finds clues to the island’s whereabouts, she sails off with Hong Kong captain Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) to find it.

Once there, she finds ruthless archaeologist Mathias (Walton Goggins) also looking for the grave. He’s got a group of mercenaries commanding a slave labor force. This portion of the running time could be deemed “Get Back to Work!” on the Blu Ray, since that line of dialogue is shouted loudly and repeatedly. Lara also discovers a lot of Papa Croft’s motivations on the island when not preoccupied by grand action set pieces. Both Mathias and Richard are guilty of neglecting many a daddy/daughter dance due to their occupations.

One of these days, the protagonist in an adventure will be faced with an extremely long jump over an object that is disintegrating quickly. They will make said jump and clear the crumbling item by about ten feet and be shocked by their solid performance skills. In Tomb Raider and everything else, that hurdle is cleared by approximately one inch and then the fall and then the subsequent Herculean effort to pull oneself back up. The first feature where the hero manages to do it with room to spare will elicit deserved laughter from the audience, if set up correctly.

Moving on, Tomb Raider doesn’t reinvent the wheel but earns some points by embracing its video game heritage. There are segments where it truly feels like the action could be generated by a controller. And it’s a testament to the direction of Roar Uthaug, the sturdy work of Vikander, some gorgeous scenery and well-placed humor that Tomb Raider is as engaging as it is. It’s far from perfect, but it’s more impressive than your typical video game adaptation and that includes both of Jolie’s Croft works.

*** (out of four)

Tomb Raider Box Office Prediction

Warner Bros hopes to kick off a new franchise nearly two decades after the first one when Tomb Raider debuts next weekend. Based on the iconic video game, it finds Alicia Vikander in the role of Lara Croft that was first portrayed by Angelina Jolie. Directed by the awesomely named Roar Uthaug, the adventure costars Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Nick Frost, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

In the summer of 2001, original adaptation Lara Croft: Tomb Raider premiered to $47 million with an eventual $131 million overall gross. The 2003 sequel The Cradle of Life experienced a significant dip with a $21 million opening and $65 million total. That was a long time ago and it will be interesting to see if old and new fans of the many video games will turn out.

There is potential for a bigger than anticipated roll out. In fact, the nearly $50 million generated by the first Raider certainly exceeded projections. Yet I believe this is more likely to earn a touch higher than the sequel 15 years ago.

Tomb Raider opening weekend prediction: $26.4 million

For my Love, Simon prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/07/love-simon-box-office-prediction/

For my I Can Only Imagine prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/03/11/i-can-only-imagine-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Colette

The first major distribution deal at the Sundance Film Festival transpired this weekend when Bleecker Street and 30WEST acquired the rights to Colette. The biopic focuses on acclaimed French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, played by Keira Knightley in a performance that has critics raving. Costars include Dominic West and Fiona Shaw. The pic is directed by Wash Westmoreland, who last helped guide Julianne Moore to a Best Actress Oscar in Still Alice.

It’s safe to assume the studios who payed for Colette will be making a push for Knightley to nab her second nomination after Pride and Prejudice in 2005. Her inclusion will depend on the competition over the next year and how well the film is marketed to audiences.

Bottom line: there’s enough buzz out of Utah to justify Knightley as one to watch in 2018.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Money Monster Movie Review

A few years back, George Clooney revealed a list of his top 100 films released between 1964 and 1976. It’s an era he considers the best in the history of the medium and that’s certainly a valid hypothesis. In his impressive career, Clooney has appeared in movies that could have come out in that time frame. Good Night, and Good Luck and The Ides of March deal with themes of corporate corruption and dirty politics in ways that entries on his list did more often forty to fifty years ago. Titles like 1976’s Network and George’s all-time #1 All the President’s Men. Both of those features also deal with the positive and negative aspects of journalism and so does Money Monster. In 1976, 24 hour cable news didn’t exist yet. There were no programs like the one in the title where over-the-top host Lee Gates (Clooney) tells viewers how to invest their cash. Think Jim Cramer… except he looks like George Clooney.

Lee is set to tape his Friday show with his trusty director Patty (Julia Roberts) in his ear. Shortly after the cameras roll, Kyle (Jack O’Connell) crashes the set with a gun and explosive laden vest for Lee to don. His beef? He lost his life savings in a company that his now bomb strapped captive heartily endorsed. As millions of ciewees watch the situation live on TV, Monster becomes a rumination on the themes mentioned earlier.

That list Clooney made also correctly included 1975’s Dog Day Afternoon. Like that excellent effort, this is a real-time New York City hostage drama with humor frequently injected. Al Pacino gave one of his richest performances of his filmography in Afternoon and his riveting character made the tension substantial in it. That’s a problem here as the character of Kyle is neither fleshed out enough or believable enough to create any significant suspense. It’s not O’Connell’s fault really. He’s just written that way. And therein lies the film’s biggest drawback.

Often, Monster manages to coast on the considerable charms of its two leads and their nice rapport. We’ve seen plenty of pictures with this one’s “Wall Street is bad” theme but few with the star wattage. The quick running time (99 minutes) is a plus. This is never boring, though it’s credibility does dip in the third act.

The director, by the way, is an actress you may have heard of named Jodie Foster. She appeared in 1974’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and 1976’s Taxi Driver. They both also made that Clooney list. Money Monster probably won’t be listed on anyone’s all-time top 100 of anything. You may not regret investing a short amount of time in it, but there’s lists of similarly themed fare that’s far superior. Even this movie’s star did one.

**1/2 (out of four)

 

Finding Dory Box Office Prediction

Thirteen years after the original made a major splash at the box office, Finding Dory hits theaters next weekend and looks to reinvigorate a somewhat slumping marketplace. The Disney/Pixar release is, of course, the sequel to 2003’s now classic Finding Nemo. Director Andrew Stanton is back, as are the voices of Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks. Plenty of other familiar faces make their voices heard here – Diane Keaton, Bill Hader, Idris Elba, Eugene Levy, Kate McKinnon, Ty Burrell, Ed O’Neill, and Dominic West among them.

The summer of 2016 has seen a host of sequels not matching up to their originals. Some of them have been family programming, like Alice Through the Looking Glass and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

It is highly likely that Dory will not suffer the same fate. In fact, the real question seems to be whether or not this will score Pixar’s largest opening weekend in its now 21 year history. That honor currently belongs to another sequel, 2010’s Toy Story 3, which debuted with $110.3 million. Dory is currently said to be tracking a bit above that. I believe it will surpass that number, but probably not by much (though with the sequelitis occurring recently, I do feel a touch of nervousness with this prediction). Still, if anything can break through – it’s this.

In order for it to score the second biggest animated premiere in history, it’d need to top the $115.7 million earned by last summer’s Minions. To get to #1, Dory would have to swim past the $121.6 million gross of Shrek the Third from 2007. It’s possible that it could achieve either one of those records.

I’ll predict Dory falls below Shrek and just above Minions to earn the #2 animated debut stateside and also set the Pixar record. That would go a long ways toward washing the bad taste out of the Mouse Factory’s mouths for Looking Glass and last fall’s The Good Dinosaur, which was the first Pixar title to lose money.

Finding Dory opening weekend prediction: $117.3 million

For my Central Intelligence prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/06/08/central-intelligence-box-office-prediction/

Money Monster Box Office Prediction

George Clooney and Julia Roberts headline Money Monster, out next weekend, as this Jodie Foster directed thriller attempts to lure in adults for some early summer counter programming. I’m not confident it’ll work out too well.

The TriStar release, budgeted at a reasonable $30 million, stars Clooney as a financial TV guru held hostage live on air with Roberts as his exec producer. Jack O’Connell and Dominic West costar.

This pic is a rather odd choice for the second weekend in May and might’ve been better suited for a spring or early fall release. If it doesn’t perform well, it won’t be for lack of marketing as the TV spots have been featured heavily on the money monsters we call cable news networks. It could struggle to reach the opening weekends of the two leads lesser performers such as Clooney’s The American ($13.1 million) or Julia’s Duplicity ($13.9 million). And even though Foster has received two Oscars for her acting, her directorial efforts Little Man Tate, Home for the Holidays, and The Beaver have yet to yield a dam hit (get it?).

I’ll predict Money Monster doesn’t reach the teens out of the gate.

Money Monster opening weekend prediction: $12.7 million

For my The Darkness prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/04/the-darkness-box-office-prediction/