Tomb Raider – Movie Review

“Tomb Raider” is a reboot of the Tomb Raider film series, the previous franchise starring Angelina Jolie, and it’s also based off of the 2013 video game of the same name. It stars Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft who is on a mission to find her father after he disappears while searching for a lost tomb. Lara soon ends up on an island which is being run by an organization called “Trinity” and now Lara is in a race to find the previously mentioned tomb before it’s discovered by Trinity and their expedition leader, played by Walton Goggins.

I’ve never actually seen the two Angelina Jolie films, but I have played some of the Tomb Raider video games. I’ve played the 2006 video game “Tomb Raider: Legend” and I’ve also played the 2013 reboot, which I loved. And even though it’s been a while since I’ve played the game, I remember enough to compare it to this movie, though I also know that I have to critique this movie simply as a piece of film-making as opposed to fanboying out over all of the stuff that it borrows from the video game.

To start off, I did like Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft. She does have the overall look for the role, at least in terms of the 2013 incarnation, and she clearly lends herself to all of the physical scenes. She’s very good starting off as a reckless young woman who also craves to learn the truth about her father and she manages to make that gradual turn into the death-defying archaeologist who’s completely out of her element on this island. She’s the only film version of the character that I’ve seen, but I did certainly see the Croft video game character in Vikander’s performance.

There are also some moments in this movie, specifically action-oriented, that legitimately look like it’s right out of the video game. Any action set-piece in this film was clearly done for the sake of trying to recreate some of the game’s highlights and for the most part, they do stand out in a positive light. Whether it be a shipwreck sequence or any scene featuring Lara fighting the elements of the island, I certainly got flashbacks to when I played the 2013 video game for the first time and it’s clear that some of the makers of this movie actually put forth some effort in making this a watchable video game adaptation.

That said, this movie has to be judged objectively as a movie and not just something that provides fan service. As far as plot and characters, it’s fairly paint-by-numbers. Walton Goggins is certainly putting in the effort as an otherwise generic, dull villain and I even feel that the character of Lara Croft was done a disservice. As good as Vikander was, I don’t like how the character is written. In this movie, she just starts out as a rebellious punk who doesn’t care about archaeology in the slightest and this would be fine for an arc that leads to her growing into the tomb raider that we all know, but that’s not what happens. Her whole purpose in this movie is to simply find her father and she doesn’t remotely care about the knowledge and intrigue that lies in searching for these treasures. She ends the movie as slightly more dedicated to fighting the bad guys, but there’s nothing to suggest that she’s grown into the intelligent archaeologist from the video games. The games featured her as an explorer who genuinely has a passion for archaeology, whereas the movie has her as just another generic action hero.

In terms of the plot, it’s just your average treasure hunt story for the first two acts. Lara solves minute puzzles and she occasionally has to fight off some bad guys, but there’s not much to it outside of that. But when the third act comes is when the movie starts to stand out, but not in the right way. The McGuffin in the movie is a lost tomb and I won’t reveal much else about it, but I will say that this movie turns into a complete ripoff of the very first “Uncharted” video game. Not a homage, but a direct ripoff. And of course, this movie has to take things a step further and make it all about the entire world being at stake, stripping away everything that made the video game so enjoyable, but also grounded.

In the end, “Tomb Raider” wasn’t bad, but it’s not the video game adaptation that’ll make people optimistic about future video game films. This is a watchable flick that has some elements of the game that fans will like seeing on the big screen, but it’s simply not a well made movie. That said, it at least deserves credit for being a video game that isn’t completely terrible. If anything, it’s just meh and I’m willing to take that seeing as how low my expectations were.

Rating: Rental

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