Saturday 21 April 2018

Cinema: Tomb Raider - fun in spots, but a mess

Cert: 12A; Now showing

Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft in the latest film version of Tomb Raider
Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft in the latest film version of Tomb Raider
Peter Rabbit is modernised

A law of fiction writing is that characters must act consistently within the rules of their world. Don't have a vegetarian volunteer to work in an abattoir, that sort of thing.

No one told Tomb Raider. Based on a 1990s video game, it does much in its early stages to make us feel like we're in the real world yet doesn't make its characters follow logical lines of behaviour in the rest of the story. Instead, director Roar Uthaug and writers Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons, go for all-out spectacle - some of it impressive - over substance.

Taking over the role of franchise heroine Lara Croft from Angelina Jolie in this reboot is Alicia Vikander, who puts in a physical day at the office.

Her Lara Croft is a kick-boxing London bicycle courier who is, for reasons not entirely clear, refusing to claim the vast inheritance from her missing father's estate. The only part of his will she does take is a key that grants her access to his secret archaeological research into a mysterious island burial site off Japan. He has left her strict instructions to destroy the research lest it fall into the wrong hands. Which she doesn't do.

Incredulity rushes at you. Lara lands in Hong Kong and stumbles upon the ship her father hired on his own doomed expedition. The boat's Chinese captain has flawless US English.

After reluctantly agreeing to the treacherous sea journey to the island, he times their arrival for a midnight hurricane. The boat duly gets dashed against the rocks but our heroine, protected only by the tiniest singlet in screen history, survives. Once on land, private militias, ancient booby traps and falling boulders can't graze her.

Fun in spots, undeniably, but a mess on the whole.

★★ Hilary A White

Mary Magdalene

Cert: 12A; Now showing

A brief and unscientific poll reveals that most people, me included, believe that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.

But that, it seems, was a rumour started by Pope Gregory I around 591, something which rather eclipsed her role as apostle, an official declaration of which only came in 2016.

It is around this and the profound misogyny of much organised religion that Garth Davis's film is based.

Written by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, it has a strong feminist bent in a deceptively ethereal feel.

It opens with Mary (Rooney Mara) helping a woman in life-threatening labour. The women in the settlement of Magdala do much of the work but to want a life other than as wife and mother, to expect any kind of autonomy, is regarded as not only shameful but a kind of madness. But when Mary meets the spiritual leader everyone has been talking about there is an instant connection and Jesus (Joaquin Phoenix) does not treat her as a lesser being.

We meet each of the characters before we know their names -Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Judas (Tahar Rahim) - so that they are presented as men rather than icons.

The story is familiar but the take thought-provoking and quietly revolutionary in its depiction of the manipulation of records. There are too many lingering shots and Phoenix does lend Jesus a vague lunacy, but his inclusive agenda must have seemed nutty at the time.

★★★★ Aine O'Connor

Damo & Ivor: The Movie

Cert: 15A; Now showing

Since it first appeared as a sketch on the Republic of Telly in 2011, Damo and Ivor has run for two TV series of its own. Now comes The Movie - and although slight on plot, it should please existing fans.

It takes up where the second series left off but there is enough explanation to allow people who haven't seen the TV show to pick up the facts: Damo and Ivor (both played by Andy Quirke) were twins separated at birth when their mother couldn't cope and disappeared.

Ivor was sold to a rich southside Dublin family and Damo went to the northside with Grano (Ruth McCabe) and each morphed into a stereotype - D4 vs Skanger. They all, including Ivor's partner (Hannah Crowley) and baby, now live with Grano, their harmony marred by the fact that Grano is the only one getting any sex.

The discovery of a third long-lost brother, Traveller John Joe (Quirke again), prompts a family road trip in a stolen vehicle that takes them via Simon Delaney's funfair where Damo finds love (Rebecca Grimes). Rob Burke and Ronan Burke direct, Quirke co-wrote and is expert at switching between characters.

If sex jokes, swearing and serious stereotyping float your boat, this could provide an amusing 90 minutes. But although it might sound similar to The Young Offenders, it isn't. What you see is what you get, no hidden depths or pathos.

★★ Aine O'Connor

Peter Rabbit

Cert: G; Now showing

2018-03-18_ent_39303216_I1.JPG
Peter Rabbit is modernised

Screen versions of beloved classics can polarise audiences, and the trailer for Peter Rabbit had people wound up before the film even got a chance to. Complaints about the belittling of allergies led Sony to apologise but most of the objections have been about the modernising of Beatrix Potter's beloved tale.

Without an attachment to the book I did rather enjoy the film - but suggest it could have been about any rabbits, not specifically Potter's.

Director and co-writer Will Gluck's version is live action, Potter's famous drawings appear as the work of artist and animal lover Bea (Rose Byrne). She protects bratty Peter (James Corden) and all the animals first, and very briefly, from Old Mr McGregor (Sam Neill), then from his grand nephew Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson). Her mantra is that animals were here before humans, so we have to co-exist.

When she and Thomas fall for each other it becomes a comic tug of love to a modern soundtrack with semi gangsta bunnies. But Gleeson is gifted at physical comedy and when the script stops trying too hard it works.

★★★ Aine O'Connor

The Square

Cert: 15A; Now showing

The Square, director Ruben Ostlund's follow up to the well-received Force Majeure, won him the Palme d'Or in Cannes last year. Though it goes on a bit and loses its way in places, this funny and occasionally disturbing satire of the art world is a deserving winner.

When museum director Christian (Claes Bang) is pickpocketed, a series of events is set in motion, both by his attempt to retrieve his phone and by his ensuing distraction. Christian's tight, intensely middle-class world collides with a less privileged one and his studious control evaporates.

The art world is thoroughly lampooned, but the broader study of class works too. Bang is excellent and Elisabeth Moss and Dominic West also make worthwhile appearances. ★★★★ Aine O'Connor

Sunday Indo Living

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment