Tomb Raider Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Jump, run, climb, fight, and survive! Tomb Raider returns to the big screen and Alicia Vikander proves that she’s got what it takes to carry an action franchise.
Director: Roar Uthaug
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Walton Goggins, Dominic West, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Hannah John-Kamen, & Derek Jacobi.
Run Time: 118 min.
US Release: 16 March 2018
UK Release: 14 March 2018
German Release: 16 March 2018
The new Tomb Raider movie is finally out, being a silver-screen reboot that is based on the 2013 game reboot of the franchise. Did that make sense? No? Well, it is what it is. I was very nervous going into the theatre because as we all know, cinematic adaptations of games are usually garbage, with a few exceptions existing, such as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the 2001 Final Fantasy, which is criminally underrated, and I also consider the 2006 Silent Hill adaptation to be a fairly good portrayal of the horror games. Still, knowing that Vikander’s husband, Michael Fassbender, already got burned with Assassin’s Creed in 2016, I was less than optimistic about Tomb Raider.
So does it break the video game movie curse? No, not really but it is a step in the right direction and it was surprisingly faithful to the 2013 game’s story, which sees Lara being shipwrecked on an island, fighting for her survival.
Lara (Vikander) is a young woman without any focus in her life, since the mysterious disappearance of her father (West). She leads a chaotic but independent life in London, not wanting to accept the inheritance her dad left her, which includes Croft manor. When a strange puzzle-box falls into her hands, she unravels a mystery surrounding her father that forces her to travel to his last known location.
I was really invested along the first act of the story, which does build-up the character and the path to her first adventure brilliantly; by taking the time to introduce characters to the audience and making them actually care for them. The outcome that sends her running towards her adventure is written clever, since instead of using an artefact as an excuse to leave her home, Lara actually follows the steps of her father to find some answers to her troubled past. The second plot arc then switches from original story to an incredibly faithful adaptation of the Tomb Raider narrative in the game. A lot of the elements happening on the island are taken straight from the video game, as well as including parts of the sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider.
The plot does have structural shortcomings, however, being far from perfect! Once the island sequence begins, the pacing starts jumping from ridiculously fast to a near stop and back again. Aspects that could have been used to develop the characters better are simply brushed off in favour for the next action segment, while points that concern the mystery of the island are prolonged, even if they aren’t that interesting. The twist to the secret of the tomb is a letdown, while the puzzles that need solving to reach the artefact, are solved a little to fast and at times it is not even explained how Lara obtained the answer.
Then there is a revelation happening along the middle of the blockbuster (which I am not going to spoil) that was kind of disappointing, as it retracts the growth that Lara has made until that point. The last segment, with Nick Frost playing a shop owner, doesn’t really fit the tone of the feature and seems to have been added in post-production.
I need to praise Alicia Vikander, who plays Lara Croft marvellously. She understands the character, while also looks like her in the rebooted franchise. Lara is a fiercely independent woman, who might make mistakes but learns from them fast; this not only gives the character a human aspect, it also makes her a great role model for young women. It was really impressive to see the credibility and emotional depth that Vikander gives her persona, this is the best adaptation of Lara Croft that we obtained on screen!
I am a big fan of Walton Goggins, he was terrific in Justified, as the main antagonist Boyd Crowder, great in Sons of Anarchy and I loved his performance in The Hateful Eight. When I saw that he was cast as the villain Mathias, I thought that at least the story would include a great villain. I was wrong because, even though Goggins does a good job when he is on screen, he is very underutilised! In my opinion, Tomb Raider didn’t need a main villain. It would have sufficed if this had been a simple survival action-adventure.
Dominic West portrays Richard Croft, Lara’s father who doesn’t seem to age. He is all right for the limited role he was given, as his character isn’t explored enough but simply serves as a springboard for Lara to accept whom she is.
Cinematographically speaking, I have to admit that this blockbuster was filmed quite nicely. Is it flawless? By no means, there are a couple of visual shots that try to pay homage to the climbing and jumping aesthetics of the game. While it is fun to watch, it is also a little irritating because it doesn’t look real. That is partially to blame on the computer-generated imagery, which is used for some of the bigger actions scenes yet look rather cheap, whereas the 3D effects are barely noticeable. It does, however, use good lighting, has a sharp picture, and the amazing choreographed fighting scenes are captured beautifully.
Verdict: Tomb Raider isn’t the film that is going to break the video game adaptation curse, yet it is at least a start. The story is a mixed bag; it begins very strong, building up the character of Lara Croft, as well as the world around her and takes its time to create an emotional connection between the heroine and the viewers. Once the action begins, the narrative starts suffering from pacing issues, while the disclosure of the tomb is a big letdown. That said, it stays unexpectedly true to the 2013 game! Alicia Vikander is amazing as Lara Croft, carrying most of the movie by herself. The character is interesting and has good emotional depth. Walter Goggins’ character, on the other hand, is shallow and badly developed. The picture looks good but the effects are very mediocre. All in all, this is a fun flick, though, nothing out of the ordinary. I will give Tomb Raider a 6.0 out of 10.
My recommendation, if you are going to see this blockbuster watch it in standard 2-D! Have you seen Tomb Raider yet? If so, let me know what you thought of it in the comment section below. Thank you for reading!