(Caution: Contents may contain small spoilers.)
Directed by: Roar Uthaug
Produced by: Graham King
Production companies: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Warner Bros. Pictures
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
March 2, 2018 (Berlin)
March 14, 2018 (United Kingdom)
March 16, 2018 (United States)
Running time: 118 minutes
When I first heard that a new Tomb Raider movie was being done, my first thought was why. Why do another Tomb Raider movie? Then the trailers begin to come out. Now it’s ‘Okay, maybe this could work.’ I knew that in order to watch Lara Croft on the big screen, I had to take my fandom and put it in my back pocket. Way down in my back pocket. I had to do the same with the Assassin’s Creed movie. For that, I had to bury my fandom in the ground. Because if I let my fandom out, it would ruin the experience. And I’m glad I did. So, let’s get right into it.
Tomb Raider is based on the first game in the rebooted storyline of Lara Croft, when she is younger and inexperienced. The movie takes hey moments from the game, such Lara falling into the rapids and riding down the river until she lands at old plane that hangs precariously over a waterfall. Like the game by Crystal Dynamics, Lara stealthily sneaks around a Trinity camp, using crates and other objects to keep herself hidden. While she doesn’t use guns, Lara does have her trusty bow and arrow, and hand to hand combat. This leads to one more aspect taken from the game: her vulnerability. Lara gets thrown down, beat up and tossed like a ragdoll. I was glad to see these elements added into the film because it made those of us who played the game feel that experience again. And since Square Enix is behind the production, it just makes that even better.
Now to flip the script. While I did enjoy all the references to the game, there are elements that hold it back from being a good video game adapted movie. Seeing Lara living an average day in London is nice in showing her development from average girl to globetrotting adventurer. However, this long development plays throughout almost the entirety of the film. Even when she gets to the island, her character is still being developed. Action sequences and fight scenes, though intense and well balanced, were minimal for an action film and weren’t really seen until the latter half of the movie. Yes, this is an origin of sorts but most people (gamers and non-gamers alike) know Lara Croft’s story so this was ill needed to be the emphasis for a majority of the film. While this element is meant to give a little more perspective into Lara Croft’s personality, it felt out of place and served no real purpose in moving the plot along. Alicia Vikander does a good job of portraying an inexperienced Lara Croft who is suddenly thrust into fighting for her survival and making decisions she wouldn’t normally do otherwise. Although Camilla Luddington (voice actress of Lara Croft in the Crystal Dynamics game) makes the character more believable. This isn’t to say that Alicia’s portrayal was bad, but that Camilla did it better. The feeling I got from Tomb Raider is the same as I got with the Assassin’s Creed film in 2016, which starred Alicia’s husband Michael Fassbender. The film’s storyline moved along quite well and was nearly on par with the game; however, the absence of key characters (such as the exhibition team Lara hires) who help shape her into the person we know, and love leaves something of a void. The characters may have been secondary, but they are necessary in Lara’s development.
Tomb Raider truly could have been one of the better video game adapted movies, on the same plane as the 1994 Mortal Kombat film and 2010’s Prince of Persia film. It is strange that an action game that was inspired by the “Indiana Jones” films did not transition well on to the big screen. You can’t exactly call Tomb Raider an action adventure film when it is lacking in both departments. There was plenty to work with from the Crystal Dynamics’ title, but it wasn’t used in the best way possible. On the other hand, the video game elements taken from the game that are present will give fans something pleasing to look at, as well as keep this movie from joining the ranks of “Legend of Chun-Li” and the live action “Tekken” movie. Tomb Raider, like Assassin’s Creed, is not the greatest game adapted movie, but it isn’t the worst either.