Tomb Raider is A Step in the Right Direction for Video Game Movies (Review)

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Movies based off popular video games definitely have a rough history in Hollywood. Between awful films like Assassins Creed and Warcraft to the mediocre Resident Evil franchise, it is very difficult to actually get excited when a movie based off a video game is announced. Tomb Raider had one of the best trailers of 2018, hands down. It’s easy to get chills every time that “Survivor” remix cued up in the trailer, and adding to that, it is cut together so well. Is the movie as good as the trailer? No. But is it an enjoyable and fun movie? Yes, yes it is. Tomb Raider is very flawed and has a few plot-holes, but there’s plenty to like about the film as well.

Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.

First off, Alicia Vikander kills it as the iconic Lara Croft. Vikander is just a beautifully talented actress and it is pleasing to see her in a role that she truly has fun with. Her character is very likable and she you feel connected to her, even more so when she starts kicking ass. Tomb Raider almost acts as a coming of age family drama instead of a cardboard cut out video game adaptation. The first act spends a lot of time developing Lara and it attempts to connect you to her missing father. Sometimes it lands and sometimes it feels forced. Overall, the fact director Roar Uthaug spent a lot of time developing Lara instead of putting her on the island 10 minutes into the movie is awesome. Tomb Raider is a very clear and concise film, unlike the last few messy video game adaptations.

Once Croft arrives to the island with Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), the movie definitely gets going. There is a lot of forced exposition in the second act, which is frustrating but expected. In terms of nailing the look of Lara Croft when she’s on the island, the costume designer’s knock it out of the park. Vikander looked like she came straight out of the video game onto the film set. Walton Goggins has the role of the villain Mathias Vogel and he has some pretty menacing moments, but unfortunately he doesn’t come across as brutal as he should have been. Goggins has a fine performance, it just could have been better. Overall, in the second and third act the stunt work and set pieces are splendid and the pacing keeps you engaged.

Despite all of the fun moments in Tomb Raider, there are several issues. The most disappointing issue is how bland the action is. For a movie based off of an action-packed video game, the scenes never truly blow you away. You’re not going to walk out of Tomb Raider and say “Man, that one scene was SO COOL.” The problem with a movie like this is that the viewer will never truly feel like Lara Croft is in danger. We all know she isn’t going to die, so no matter how exciting and intense a scene is, that one aspect will always take you out of it a little bit. To go along with the action being forgettable, the score is as well. Nothing about the music intensifies the action sequences.

There are several flaws in Tomb Raider as well. Certain aspects are forgivable, but there are some moments that are slightly ridiculous. There is also one pretty big plot hole, but to go into it I would have to spoil a lot about the story. Just know there is a moment in the third act that messes with the foundation of the plot. Another disappointing detail about the story is how Lu Ren kind of gets forgotten about. He is supposed to be Lara’s sidekick but instead he disappears for 30 minutes at a time throughout the movie. It seems that in the longer cuts of the movie he probably had more screen time, but as they edited it down to a two-hour movie, he lost some of his scenes.

As a whole, Tomb Raider is a fun and serviceable adventure drama. There are numerous issues, but if you’re having fun it is easy to forgive a lot of them. This is one of those movies you have to go into knowing that it isn’t exactly like the game, and if you didn’t play the game then just treat it as a dramatic adventure movie. Is Tomb Raider the best video game adaptation? Possibly. The only problem with that is it doesn’t say much since most of them have been awful. However, it is a step in the right direction and it would be awesome to see Alicia Vikander portray Lara Croft again.

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