From memory, Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft in earlier Tomb Raider movies (2001, 2003) exploited womanly sexuality, whereas this new presentation of the character is all about skimpily clad girl power. Lara (Alicia Vikander) first appears on the scene practising her kick-boxing, shortly after which she is pursued through London in a bicycle version of a fox-hunt. It is a brilliantly filmed sequence, as is the one in which she is fleeing a gang of toughs in the floating market of Hong Kong. In fact, poor Lara spends half the movie being chased by people, but she is as fit as a flea and cute as a button in her shorts and sweaty singlet. When she is not being chased she is leaping chasms, clinging to cliffs and, in one fabulous scene, scrambling to safety through the rusty remains of a B52 that has been wedged at the top of a million-feet high waterfall. This time around, Lara is also provided with a bit more back-story, through flashbacks to a childhood spent playing with a bow-and-arrow on a posh country estate and being doted on by her famous archaeologist father, Lord Richard (Dominic West). Dad has been missing for years when Lara sets out in search of the tomb of an ancient Japanese queen, whose malevolent spell might destroy civilisation as we know it if it fell into the hands of the sinister Trinity organisation. The tomb is on a tiny island with a towering peak somewhere in the Pacific and Lara arrives on it after a spectacular shipwreck. There she is reunited with Lord Richard, who has been living like Gunga Din in a cave while monitoring the activities of the bad guys who are getting closer and closer to finding the tomb. I am a little bit baffled as to why I enjoyed this so much – maybe it was just Alicia’s big brown eyes – but it is more ‘human’ than the Marvel monstrosities and slam-dunks happily in the footsteps of Indiana Jones.
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