By Bill Wine

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Sometimes a sequel is more than an equal.

And sometimes it is less.

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Take Tomb Raider.


The 2003 action thriller, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, was shockingly and overwhelmingly superior to its awful predecessor, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

The first one was an unwatchable large-screen video game, while the grittier follow-up hummed along entertainingly while bringing craft to Croft.

Now, 15 years later, a third installment in the video game-inspired franchise arrives – essentially a grittier and less campy reboot — and immediately begs the question: Is Tomb Raider as bad as the flimsily-plotted original, or as good as the commanding and impressive follow-up?

Answer: A tad better than the original – which, believe me, is damning with faint praise – but a lot worse than the first sequel.

Inspired, if that is indeed the word, by the video game – and this is the kind of movie that reminds folks who despise and ignore video games just why they do – Tomb Raider looks back in on the globe-trotting, kick-boxing, bungee-jumping, death-defying archaeologist/adventuress who emerged from a wildly popular video game.

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Played in the first two outings by Angelina Jolie, the role now goes to Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner (for 2015’s The Danish Girl) Alicia Vikander, the Swedish star who has also impressed in such films as Ex Machina, A Royal Affair, Anna Karenina, Jason Bourne, and The Light Between Oceans.

(1½ stars out of 4)

But all the makers want from Ms. Vikander is for her to run and run and run and, when she’s not running, keep wincing in pain.


Norwegian director Roar Uthaug, working from a threadbare screenplay by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons, provides an origin story for the fiercely independent daughter of a missing explorer (Dominic West) whom she goes in search of on the island off the coast of Japan, where he was last seen seven years ago while searching for the last tomb of Timiko, the monstrous queen of ancient Japan.

Not that the script or the characters or the pacing makes us care at all about any of this.

Even by the standards of unapologetic action movies, Tomb Raider, so shallow, so distant, so generic, so unconvincing, so humorless, so inconsequential, so time-killing, could have been titled Raider of the Lost Art of Cribbing.

And to no avail.

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So we’ll go in search of 1-1/2 stars out of 4 for Tomb Raider. The longer this Yawn with the Wind slogs on, the more that tomb looks like a perfect place for a nap.