Wonder Woman. Ghostbusters. Annihilation. Hollywood has come a long way since the film days of yore, when female characters were under-represented and over-sexualised. Hasn't it?
Well, maybe not quite. The costuming in this year's Tomb Raider reboot isn't quite as pervy as in the 2001 original, but outside of that there isn't much improvement. Certainly, things aren't different enough to really warrant a remake – or to catch the franchise up with the momentum of progressive feminism.
This new film sees a young, broke Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander, replacing Angelina Jolie) follow in the footsteps of her mysteriously deceased adventurer father, crossing land and sea to find out what happened to him. Vikander does her best as the butt-kicking, braid-flicking protagonist – her guts and grizzle were enough to make me ponder my own laughable levels of fitness. That said, the fact I found myself thinking "grrrl you are ripped" about a zillion times gives you an indication of how little else there is to latch onto.
Turns out a kick-ass heroine isn't enough to counteract crap writing. The dialogue in Tomb Raider is horribly stilted, so much so that the film's villain sounds like a parody of himself. If you had a dollar for every cliché out of his mouth – or for every time someone says something along the lines of "that's not the type of Croft I am – you'd easily have enough to cover the cost of your ticket. Despite what the writers might think, you can't just take a sub-par line of dialogue and repeat it until it becomes a zinger.
The film's plotting, meanwhile, plays like a lazy mix of tropes from Raiders of The Lost Ark and The Hunger Games, with the moody origin story vibes of Batman Begins thrown in. Director Roar Uthaug doesn't manage any of it particularly well, although there are – spoiler alert – a lot of scenes where Vikander struggles in bodies of water, and they're all convincingly shot (I wrote the word "STRESSFUL" several times in my notes).
The film also fails to take advantage of its strong supporting cast.Kristin Scott Thomas is chronically underused, while Nick Frost shows up all too briefly to deliver one of the movie's only genuinely funny moments (as opposed to its many unintentionally funny ones). At least the producers thought to cast someone other than a generic Hollywood white guy as Lara's partner in crime. Sadly, Daniel Wu's Lu Ren is relegated to the background in no time, and only pops up when required by the plot.
The best bit of the entire Tomb Raider ordeal? To be honest, it was the very attractive promo men swinging around ropes in the foyer before the media screening. When that's the case you know you've got a dud on your hands. Our advice: give this flick a miss.