The entertainment industry has been on a sociopolitical binge on trying to forcefully rewire the brains of men so that they don’t find women attractive anymore. They’ve done this by turning many female heroines into more masculine protagonists, or by de-sexifying them by lowering their sex appeal. We’ve seen this time and time again with many reboots, sequels and even new intellectual properties. A prime example of this is how Crystal Dynamics rebooted Tomb Raider in 2013 with a lot of grit, blood, grime and a Lara Croft who was far less sexy than her previous outings. This trend carried over into the rebooted live-action movie of Tomb Raider starring Swedish actress Alicia Vikander.
The 29-year-old thespian was criticized early on by fans as being too frail, too small, and too flat to be Lara Croft. She was oftentimes compared to a muscular 12-year-old boy due to how small her frame is. Many gamers likened her casting to Hollywood’s penchant for pederasty.
Regardless of the contextual casting decisions that went into giving Vikander the role of the titular “Tomb Raider”, Hollywood’s direction in going for a less sexy female lead did not pay off in the review score dividends.
As you can see, even the “progressive” and self-proclaimed “woke” movie critics were none too pleased with outcome of Roar Uthaug’s live-action reboot of the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider.
That’s right… a 52% out of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Critics may be have been forcing readers to accept “progressive” politics in movies by giving them higher than warranted scores (such as Black Panther, which sits at a 97% out of 100%) but this time around the critics just couldn’t be convinced that the “dude with boobs” trope was a compelling enough fixture for the 115 minute runtime.
To be fair, it’s not like the critics were that much more impressed with the 2001 Angelie Jolie-led flick of the same name. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider bottomed out with a 27% out of 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Obviously, what the original lacked in critical appeal it easily made up for with Angelina Jolie’s youthful sex appeal.
Said sexiness also seemed to work wonders with luring in enough thirsty young moviegoers to help push the film into becoming a box office success, spawning an equally derided but no less entertaining sequel.
It’s tough to tell if the de-sexified Tomb Raider reboot with the far less fan-auspicious Vikander will be able to tough through the middling critical remarks and turn a profit for Hollywood, or if the lacking lure for the male libido will be its undoing.
So what exactly is it that critics don’t like about Tomb Raider? Well, there are various female critics who praise it simply because Vikander is beating up men three times her size and surviving through impossible physical trauma, as noted by Katie Walsh from the Portsmouth Daily Times and Lindsey Bahr from the Associated Press.
Some of their male counterparts like Chris Stuckmann believe that the film is “one of the most faithful video game adaptations ever made”, while Tony Medley, from his own website, notes that the film is better than Wonder Woman simply because it’s more fantasy than a distortion of historical fiction. Yes, Medley’s review is a real head-scratcher.
Travis Hopson from Punch Drunk Critics also attempts to pay lip-service to the media’s new “no sexy, all masculine” rule by saying that the new movie makes “Lara Croft cool again”.
But the real meat and potatoes comes from the critics who aren’t punch drunk with politics.
Stephanie Merry rewarded the Hollywood cash-in on a feminist-capitulated reboot with a 1.5 stars out of 5. The Washington Post reviewer blatantly sums up what will have plenty of third-wave feminists shrieking into the night, writing…
“Watching a tiny-but-tough woman survive one danger after another tests not only our credulity, but our patience.”
Thus, Merry’s review sets the tone for most critics: they don’t mind fantasy-fiction on their optical palate, but don’t like it served on a platter whose description reads “gritty-realism”.
Blu-ray’s Brian Orndorf mirrored Merry’s summation of the film, explaining how turning Lara Croft into a “grounded” action heroine just didn’t cut the custard, especially with the inclusion of eye-rolling CGI and depicting Lara with very little character dimension outside of her physically demanding shenanigans…
“Director Roar Uthaug (“The Wave”) wants to create a more grounded Lara Croft, but he ends up shutting the picture down multiple times. And the third act, which actually enters a tomb, is disappointing, bringing in crude CGI to salvage the tedious threat posed by Himiko and enforced by Vogel.”
Majority of the negative reviews all state the exact same thing: the film lacks a coherent sense of danger, lacks proper action pacing, and lacks any believable motivation behind the character’s actions.
Even the feminist-complaisant review from Stephen Witty on the Film Journal – in which he takes digs at both video game violence and sexy women – couldn’t abstain from objecting to the movie’s overall lack of action, lack of appeal, lack of danger, and lack of motivation, writing…
“It’s great that it’s purged the character, and the series, of the usual sexist and violent clichés. Lara wears pants now and no longer has the physique of a Barbie doll (even the voluptuous Jolie used padding to play her). There’s no obligatory romantic subplot (even better, no threat of sexual violence). Even the gun worship has been toned down (Lara’s favored weapon is a bow and arrow).
“But the film’s been so busy subtracting old things, it’s forgotten to add anything new.”
And herein lies the crux of the problem: a feminist-friendly movie where the main character doesn’t encounter anything objectionable in the eyes of the Intersectional Inquisition obviously leaves the film without much danger or entertainment values at all. Once you take everything away that might offend someone, what are left with?
Feminists get a heroine who is tougher, stronger, smarter, and more self-reliant than her male counterparts, all while abstaining from embracing her sexuality to prevent men from taking any pleasure in her physical being; but it also means that there’s little motivation, there’s no suspense, there are no conscionable consequences, and ultimately not many thrills to keep viewers on the edge of their seat.
It’s amazing that a series defined by a gun-wielding, independent, sexy heroine, engaging in masochistic puzzle-solving spanning exotic locations around the world, has been reduced to a bow-wielding, de-sexified vagrant with a penchant for enduring torture porn while dealing with daddy issues.
We’ll see if the anti-gun, pro-feminist, anti-sexy take on Lara Croft in this new Tomb Raider will be able to eke out some earnings at the box office starting March 16th, or if turning off the original audience in favor of being “progressive” will imbue it with some revenue repercussions.