Tomb Raider Missed Out on The Things That Made Lara Croft Great (Review)

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It might not be fair, but I’m going to be comparing this Tomb Raider to the Laura Croft Tomb Raider in 2001 for the whole review.  Because if you’re going to reboot something, you really should make it better. And I’ll spoil the surprise right here: this Tomb Raider wasn’t better at all.  You may well be sitting there thinking ‘duh- I saw the trailer’, and you’d be right. But I was rooting for it, I went in wanting to see a good film. Then Alicia Vikander came on and thanked us for watching her movie and my brain automatically tacked on the words “… even though it sucks”.  Like I’ve said before, the thanks you get for watching a movie should be a great movie. You shouldn’t need to be grateful for people filling your seats, you should be confident. Star Wars is.

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.


It seemed like this year’s Tomb Raider didn’t have the money to spend, like it was made with about half the budget.  And it kindof was – Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was $115M (adjusted for inflation that’s about $163M) where this Tomb Raider was $106M, tops.  Let me tell you, the difference seemed like more. What did Tomb Raider 2018 spend its money on? It wasn’t the actors. I mean Alicia Vikander is lovely and did a good job, but she’s no Angelina Jolie.  Daniel Wu, likewise lovely, did a good job, but he’s no Daniel Craig. It wasn’t special effects – there were no massive animated statues, no giant clockwork model of planets, no robots. Not writing either, from the looks of it – the pacing was messy and dragged, the character motivation seemed arbitrary and the dialogue was nothing to write home about.

Am I being unfair, comparing this movie to the one it’s rebooting?    Possibly. There wasn’t a lot wrong with this Tomb Raider. They didn’t make any obvious mistakes and the action scenes were quite good.  I liked Dominic West as Lara’s father more in this version. But there’s a completely different aesthetic at work in this new one and I don’t like it as much.  It feels more realistic, less magical, less sentimental. There’s no elements of the supernatural, no alien technology, no curses or prophecies or planetary alignments.  I guess this Tomb Raider was going for realism? But realism isn’t the thing that made Lara Croft good. It was the exploration of fantastical locations and weird events by a main character who was slightly…top heavy.  The Adventure Genre is meant to be exotic and wondrous and, yes, sexy. This reboot was none of these things.

So is Tomb Raider worth watching?  No, it is not. Go watch the 2001 Angelina Jolie film again instead.  That one was wonderful. It had shirtless Daniel Craig for one thing, which is more fan service than we got on this other Tomb Raider.  Also, Tomb Raider 2018, if you’re going for realism, you’d really should have your science straight. WAY too many instances of ‘_________ doesn’t work that way’. Too late to argue that it’s an adventure story not a science documentary – YOU were the one that wanted realism.  I feel like you missed the point of Lara Croft – better luck next reboot.

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