Tomb Raider (2018)
“Tomb Raider” stars Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, and Kristin Scott Thomas. Released on March 16, 2018, the film is about a young woman who sets off to complete her father’s research and uncover some ancient secrets on an island.
The film is directed by Roar Uthaug, who also directed Cold Prey, Magic Silver, Escape, and The Wave. It is based on the 2013 video game of the same name and serves as a reboot of the Tomb Raider film series. Tomb Raider was one of the most popular and successful franchises the video game industry had to offer since its inception in 1996. Not only was it classified as one of the pioneers of the action-adventure genre, but it also introduced us to the toughest and most hottest video game character to date in the form of Lara Croft. Its success resulted in two big-screen adaptations ("Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” and "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life”) that had Angelina Jolie fitting in the shoes of the badass explorer. While far from critical masterpieces, the two movies had become box office hits despite the fact that the sequel earned less money than its predecessor. In 2009, Square Enix, the company who brought us Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, acquired the franchise’s original publisher, Eidos Interactive, to assist Crystal Dynamics (the 2013 game’s developer) in crafting a new Tomb Raider game that reboots the entire series and envisions Lara Croft before her days as a butt-kicking archeologist. With the success of that game and its sequel, “Rise of the Tomb Raider”, Hollywood wasted no time in attempting to make a movie out of them. I haven’t played either one of the Tomb Raider games growing up, even though I remember them from the Angelina Jolie movies, but I was interested in seeing it anyway because of the concept and the cast. In case you haven’t read my past reviews for the other game-to-film adaptations, Hollywood is really struggling to find a video game-based film that will impress both fans and non-gamers alike in terms of critical reception, box office intake, or in some cases, all of the above. Based on the marketing I saw, it looks like this might be good enough to please people who played the recent Tomb Raider games, but what about those who haven’t?
The Tomb Raider franchise has a simple premise: An archeologist travels around the world searching for ancient artifacts and exploring dangerous tombs and ruins while also battling some bad guys who seek the artifacts themselves for sinister purposes. It’s basically the female version of Indiana Jones. The recent Tomb Raider games follow that pattern as well, but with an inexperienced Lara Croft. The film’s translation of that pattern didn’t do a whole lot to make itself special or unique, but if you’re looking for a simple, fast-paced action flick filled with entertaining thrills and a couple of puzzle-solving scenarios, I think this one should suit your needs. As a person who has never played the games, I actually found it to be an enjoyable ride. Alicia Vikander was quite impressive as Lara Croft. Not only was she brave and capable of handling things by herself, but she also has a sense of vulnerability that helps drive her character compared to how Croft is classified in the earlier games and movies. It’s pretty sad that some people are criticizing her portrayal based on her appeal instead of her talent onscreen. It just goes to show that people can make up pointless excuses to drew a response. I wasn’t very familiar with Uthaug’s filmography beforehand, mostly because he’s known for making small films in Norway that I haven’t seen before. His first attempt at an American action film had plenty of moments that left a solid impression on my face, with one of them being his direction. Uthaug was able to keep things more grounded and real without sacrificing the entertainment values in the process, most notably the action sequences and the supernatural plot element. Aside from its average storyline, I wasn’t very fond of the antagonist, Mathias Vogel, played by Walton Goggins. I can understand why he’s doing this to begin with, but his character development felt pretty weak.
Overall, this latest film adaptation of “Tomb Raider” is a solid representation of Lara Croft’s recent video game adventures. Despite its average and simple plot and a weak antagonist, the film was able to stand itself out compared to the other game-to-film adaptations that left a sour taste in gamers’ mouths. It’s far from a perfect adaptation, but it’s intense and entertaining in its own right. If you’re familiar with the Tomb Raider games or if you’re just looking for a basic, by-the-numbers action film, it’s worth checking out.
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