Do movies with roles needing big preparation turn into big flops?
Just reading and knowing about the preparation that Alicia Vikander undertook to play Lara Croft takes our breath away. But at the end of it all, what has she got to show?
It's not as though Tomb Raider is the worst film ever made on this planet. God knows there are enough franchise films from Hollywood floating around claiming a place among the most dreadful cinematic experiences of our lifetime.
Tomb Raider is a sum-total of many failures. It tries to re-define the myth of the modern warrior queen propagated by Angeline Jolie many years ago in the Lara Croft films, renewed in the feminine grace of Alicia Vikander who goes through the athletic paces with a self-assured robustness (with no emphasis on the bust) seldom seen in female heroes.
There is one heartstopping action scene staged on the skeleton of an abandoned aircraft on the top of a torrential waterfall that is breathtaking in its vigour. The rest of the film is so flabby and droopy that it makes the stand-out action sequences seem like the only reason why this poorly-conceived gaming actioner was revivified for an audience that has long moved on.
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Tomb Raider sets its action on an island infested with villainous neo-slave drivers making migrant workers toil to open up a vault containing the tomb of a fearsome goddess. The hocus-pocus and the mumbo-jumbo are dressed up as an emotional father-daughter saga staged in spasms of dithering drama between dad Dominic West (who performs poorly in the impoverished script) and Vikander, who bravely ploughs through the aridity of a godforsaken plot that has no room for real emotions.
The writing is blunt and the dialogues compete for flatness with Vikander's washboard stomach. All this would have been bearable if the action was riveting. The stunts do not have the sustained momentum that this reawakened franchise demands. The archvillain played by Walton Goggins looks like a cocaine addict out on a wild safari that takes on a biblical journey through bondage and brutality.
I wonder how Vikander feels about her rigorous preparations now that the film has been so shabbily received. She can seek comfort in the cold reception given to the films of other actors who went out of their way to prepare for a character.
Rajkummar Rao lost close to 20 kg for his part of an isolated Mumbai-kar in Trapped. How many people actually saw his effort? Deepika Padukone developed a chronic backache while practising her dance steps for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Ram Leela.
Kamal Haasan has suffered 34 bone fractures in the line of duty. His most serious injury was in a Tamil film "Kaligan". He did an action scene in a subway. A car sped up and hit him smack on his spine. He landed on top of the car. Then, when it halted, he went under the wheel. He dislocated his jaw, his nose was cracked and he had three fractures.
Then again, while filming Hindi comedy Mumbai Express, Kamal Haasan was shooting with a child actor on a motor cycle when the vehicle turned turtle. To protect the child from injury, Kamal Haasan took the full brunt of the fall.
So many actors have gone out of their way to get into character -- only to have the film flopping on them.
Here is what Akshay Kumar has to say about actors who prepare by changing their physique and reconditioning their minds, "All those actors who talk about preparing for a role for six months, character mein ghus jana, etc., they're lying! Work is to be taken seriously. But it's also important to know where to stop. Even Naseeruddin Shah just goes with the flow. An actor has to be water. You find your level in every character."
Perhaps, if you follow that advice, a flop would not hurt as much.