TL;DR – A solid action flick, with a good homage to the titular video game, but it is not the golden gem the video game adaptation that is still eluding filmmakers
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene after the title card
The elusive video game adaption, for years Hollywood has tried to crack that particular gem. While comic book films like The Avengers and unfilmable literary epics like Lord of the Rings have found their feet, video game adaptations have remained just out of reach for the industry. In this battle, we have had disasters like Super Mario Bros. and close-but-no-cigar films like Warcraft. So today we have our first major attempt in a while to cross that divide … and it almost gets there.
So to set the scene, Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) had the normal childhood upbringing, well normal for being the daughter to one of the richest men in the world. Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West) lost his wife and searched high and low for some glimpse into the supernatural. Then one day he never came home from one of his trips, and Lara’s life was never the same. Seven years later, Lara lives in a rundown flat taking courier jobs to survive, when one day she accidentally runs into a police car. One of her father’s closest advisers Anna (Kristin Scott Thomas) bails her out and convinces her to finally sign the papers declaring her father dead. But joke because instead of doing that Lara finds a clue that leads her to her father’s secret room where he tells her to burn all the files on Yamatai … and Lara does the complete opposite.
Right from the start, it is clear that Tomb takes a lot of its inspiration from the 2013 game reboot than the original 1996 series and that was I think the best way to approach the game. This is all helped by the fact that Alicia Vikander throws everything she has into the film and who is supported by some excellent costuming, make-up design, and choreography that all goes together to really create a memorable character. It also helps that this is an origin film as such because it presents a different Lara than what we have seen already in the Angelina Jolie films. This dynamic really helps set up the world, and Lara’s place in it and has a similar feel to say, Casino Royal.
The unfortunate thing is while they have really worked really hard on the character of Lara and her motivations, they don’t actually give her a great story to really show off the character. The film is filled with cliché’s, like ‘oh a guy is sick he just needs a rest, nope I am going to kill him to show what a bad guy I am’. Out of all the big plot reveals, there was probably only one that I felt was actually really inventive, rather than something I have seen time and time again. I am not saying the story is bad per se, but just that it is really paint by numbers. One of the core parts of the 2013 reboot was not just the character but a real attempt to do a better job with the story, and while they have brought the character over, the story didn’t quite get there.
Throughout the film, there were these set-piece action moments where they almost felt like they were pulled straight from the game and put on the big screen. This really gave the film an authentic touch, though it was odd to see these moments and not even have to push a quick time button. However, one issue with these actions scenes was that a lot of the time they engaged in stunts that would have been far too dangerous for a stunt person, let alone Alicia Vikander, and it is clear that a CGI double was added in. This is not a major issue, but it is really noticeable in some places and it could have been a bit better.
The supporting cast is ok, so, for example, I think Daniel Wu is doing a good job here, but they don’t really give him much to work with, and it feels like some of his arc didn’t make the final cut of the film. Walton Goggins can do creepy really well, and they give his character Vogel an interesting counterpoint to Richard Croft that I think they could have tapped into a bit more. Interestingly the cast is actually kept quite small other than the assorted henchmen that are all kind of there to die throughout the film to show how dangerous it all is.
In the end, do we recommend Tomb Raider? Yes, sort of … maybe. Look if you are a fan or video games and Lara Croft specifically then you will get a kick out of this film. Also, it is great to see a big onscreen film/franchise where girls can see a different take on the genre when it is usually just men in that field like Indiana Jones and National Treasure and games like Uncharted. However, it is just a pity that the film does not reach the heights they could have got too if they had been just a touch more ambitious. Hopefully, if there is a sequel they will try and not be as safe as they were here.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Tomb Raider
Directed by – Roar Uthaug
Story by – Evan Daugherty & Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Screenplay by – Geneva Robertson-Dworet & Alastair Siddons
Based on – Tomb Raider by Crystal Dynamics & Square Enix
Music by – Tom Holkenborg
Cinematography by – George Richmond
Edited by – Stuart Baird & Michael Tronick
Starring – Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas, Hannah John-Kamen, Antonio Aakeel, Derek Jacobi & Nick Frost
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13