Summary: A young explorer traces her father’s footsteps to an ancient island.
Tomb Raider, starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft and directed by Roar Uthang, is a reboot film of a rebooted game series and the overall Tomb Raider brand is a mix of the Uncharted games, Indiana Jones, and the 1998 version of The Mummy. Now, prior to the rebooted game in 2013, we had different expectations of the series- it had a campy tone, very tongue in cheek attitude that more or less worked with the series.
Since 2013, we’ve had a more realistic and serious Lara, with much more emphasis on her intelligence and resourceful nature and the challenges she encounters. This movie version is very much in the same vein and even tries to emulate both at certain points.
I, uh, have mixed feelings on this movie. On one hand, it was really exciting to see something so visually faithful to one of my favorite games of all time. I liked that they based the movie off bits and pieces of the game and didn’t rip everything from its source. I liked all the nods to the games and elements they chose to take from it. Vikander met my hopes and somewhat exceeded my expectations, giving Lara the youthfulness and stubbornness needed for an introductory piece.
Again, this is strictly from me being a fan of the game. I think it was really enjoyable for me because I got to see a lot of things I adore executed well- but I don’t think as a movie it was particularly fun to watch. Most of my excitement wasn’t from being wowed by anything, but rather my already-set interest in seeing how they would pull off certain game components and satisfaction is seeing it done decently. As a movie, I don’t think Tomb Raider offers anything other than “meh.” It has an okay storyline. It has an okay pace, feeling rushed in some parts and dawdling in others. It has an okay villain, overall okay action, okay CGI, and an okay conclusion. It’s not anything spectacular, but it’s not a complete mess either.
I think a lot of this has to do with the overall inconsistency of the movie- it doesn’t know if it wants to be an action/adventure movie (think Magnificent 7) or a serious movie with some action sequences (think The Foreigner), and it’s noncommitment to each of those makes it a bit bland and a whole lot of unmemorable. In its attempts to be a bit more grounded, Lara doesn’t get to do anything over the top or remarkable; at the same time, there’s definitely enough action to have warranted some of those moments had they been there. I kind of wish it had stuck more to the horror tone of the 2013 game or at least the mystery and discovery, as that was one of its most defining features. Instead, Tomb Raider sticks to being visually faithful but not providing much context or meaning to those visuals.
You know what else they didn’t get right? The actual tombs and really, the fun of the puzzles. I don’t get to see Lara actually process and solve anything. She thinks really hard, turns something, and it pops into place. Boom. Solved. I’m not told or shown how she came to that conclusion. Also, the one puzzle in there that she did solve was kind of lame. And she solved it by process of elimination, not really her brains… Ok. Rant on puzzles over.
Actually, that’s probably a good way to describe a lot of Tomb Raider: Things are shown but not given the context to really drive it home. It’s all artificial and relies on the visuals for the most part. Tomb Raider is also inconsistent in its tone and with its transitions from scene to scenes- Vikander does a great job in each, but there always feels like there’s something missing from Lara or that something hasn’t been carried over. Sure, she’s reckless and adventurous, but there’s not even one line of “Amazing!” when she’s standing in her first tomb or when she sees the entrance. The “Brilliant” line from the trailer when she solves her first puzzle isn’t even in its scene. This version of Lara never feels invested or even excited about the prospect of discovery. For someone so green, I liked that they showed her progress in her physical abilities and growing confidence- but she barely blinks an eye at the things on the island. If this is her first real big adventure that jumpstarts her reputation, I needed that sense of wonderment, from the character and as a viewer. She certainly looks the part and I admire her dedication to the role and spirit of the character, but I really needed that specific continuity with the character to feel emotionally invested in her arc.
That being said, the whole “I’ll take two” scene from the credits feels undeserved and way out of place. SHE’S NOT READY YET. SHE COULDN’T EVEN BRING HERSELF TO SHOOT WALTON GOGGINS. INCONSISTENT.
It was a good introductory piece and probably one of the most faithful video game adaptations out there, which is great and all. It’s a good, safe launch point. However, if you gave me a choice between the first Tomb Raider movie and this one, I’d honestly pick that Angelina Jolie version. This one just lacks in excitement and organic sense of adventure. The rewatchability factor is nonexistent. I like this Tomb Raider, but I don’t have a desire or urge to see it again. Like, ever. If anything, I walked away from this thinking, “That was fine, but I hope they have more fun in the sequel.” Really. I want to have a fun time with this movie experience. I hope it gets a sequel, but that one better be good.