Movie Review: Tomb Raider (2018) (Spoilers!)

Making a reboot is pretty tricky, as there are expectations and a time element that a film studio has to factor in. With “Tomb Raider”, aside from the fact that they had the difficult challenge of presenting the iconic Lara Croft in a fresh new light, they also had to surpass the “bad video game movie adaptation curse” that has been going around for quite some time.  With this and the fact that the last “Tomb Raider” film was released fifteen years ago, now seemed like the right time to showcase a new kind of Lara Croft for a new generation with award winning actress Alicia Vikander as the iconic character. This resulted in a video game movie adaptation that was enjoyable despite its messy plotting;  and presented a strong female character who didn’t need sexiness to prove that she is amazing.

“Tomb Raider” was directed by Roar Uthaug, with a screenplay by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons. The film starred Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft; Dominic West and Lord Richard Croft; Daniel Wu as Lu Ren; Walton Goggins as Mathias Vogel and Kristin Scott Thomas as Ana Miller.

The movie follows a younger version of Lara Croft, a rebellious and independent young woman struggling to make ends meet as a bicycle courier, and who refuses to believe that her missing father is dead. After reluctantly deciding to hear what the family lawyer has to say, she ends up inheriting a puzzle box which leads her to discover her father’s secret adventures, and decides to trace his footsteps to find out what really happened to him. Along the way, she gets Lu Ren, a sailor whose father also disappeared along with Lara’s father, and together, they embark on the adventure of a lifetime to the remote island of Yamatai. There, they get there answers and so much more, as they end up delving into the legend of the “Death Queen” Himiko, who is said to have been imprisoned on the island as well.

Alicia Vikander Lara Croft
Alicia VIkander as Lara Croft Image Source: Official Warner Bros. Pictures Philippines Facebook Page

The movie presents us with a completely different version of Lara as compared to Angelina Jolie’s version of the character. Here, Vikander’s Lara is earnest, young, reckless, rebellious, smart, and very much untested. She is more vulnerable and emotional, and that allows us to see a more human version of the character. It was also refreshing to see that they also didn’t have to add any love angle for Lara and that her character’s sexiness didn’t come into play here either.

I felt that the plotting and pacing of the movie was a little bit uneven. The set up with the bike chase scene at the start of the film and the chase scene in Hong Kong was great, but it started to get bogged down a little bit towards the middle of the film. However, things do pick up once again once they start entering Himiko’s tomb, especially as everything you would expect in an “Indiana Jones” movie, from the booby traps to the puzzles, start happening. Thankfully, this does last until the end of the movie, which wonderfully sets things up for a potential sequel, and one that I am pretty interested in seeing myself.

I also thought that Wu was greatly underutilized, there were a lot of moments in which I wasn’t sure what was going on, and I felt that the character motivations weren’t really as defined as I wanted them to be, and in particular, with Goggins’ Mathias Vogel. I also didn’t feel satisfied when it came to the emotional impact the movie left on me, and I felt that it could have done more to connect more emotionally with the audience, especially as Lara’s relationship with her father was at the core of this story.

However, I did like how the movie always kept us in suspense, and it did a great job at making us feel worried for Lara’s own survival as she faced threat after threat.

I am not a gamer, so I have never played the Lara Croft games before, but based on what I’ve seen online, it looks like they were able to pull some scenes from the game itself, and the story line of this one resembles the 2013 version of the game, which interested me a lot. Also, I thought that while this isn’t a great film, it was an enjoyable one, and it probably is one of the better video game adaptation movies we’ve seen in quite a while.

Now, you know the drill, from here on out, there will be spoilers!

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As mentioned earlier, there were things that I really did like about this film, and there were things that didn’t work for me at all.

Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft
Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft Image Source: Official Tomb Raider Website

As mentioned earlier, I thought that making this a sort of origin story for the iconic character was a great decision; and I thought that having Vikander’s Lara be emotional, vulnerable and not yet at the top of her game was very refreshing. I also loved how Lara truly came into her own at the end, taking over what her father was previously doing after she realizes the responsibility that she has been handed. She started the film not believing in her father’s foolish quest to believing and realizing that he had been trying to save the world, even if it meant that that was at the expense of not being around that much for her.

I also liked how the movie set itself up for a sequel, as Lara will now be taking over her father’s quest to stop Trinity, and she will probably do that in the next film by investigating a mysterious company owned by her own company, and Ana, who is revealed to be a part of Trinity.

Kristin Scott Thomas
Kristin Scott Thomas as Ana Miller Image Source: Official Warner Bros. Pictures Philippines Facebook Page

If this does happen, I hope we will be presented with a better villain in Ana, as I was not impressed at all with Goggins’ Vogel. I didn’t really like his performance here, and I felt that there was very little motivation for his character to do the things that he does, or at least, you didn’t really emotionally connect with him at all until the end, when Lara kicks the bridge that served as their only way out of Himiko’s tomb.

Speaking of Himiko’s tomb, even though the booby traps were predictable, as someone who loves things like this, I was thoroughly satisfied with what I got. I also liked the fact that the whole Himiko legend had scientific basis, because more often that not, these things do take on the more supernatural route, which can lead it to become a little ridiculous.

I think that this was done partly as they were trying to present us with a more realistic and more human Lara than before, even though I did feel that it was a little bit strange that there were moments in which she could suddenly perform better when fighting while we see her own weaknesses in fighting at the beginning of the movie.

I also hope that there will a lot more of Wu in the sequel, if it ever happens, because I thought that there was a lot of potential with that character that was left unexplored. For example, he and Lara could have bonded a little bit more about their missing fathers, and I really wanted that moment when the other workers on the island decided to help him as his father sacrificed his own life for them to have more depth and emotion, but it didn’t.

All the emotion was left to the story arc between Lara and her father, but even with that, even though I did feel the emotion, it felt like there could have been more  done to make the audience feel more connected emotionally to the movie.

Vikander was amazing as Lara, and I do love that young girls do have a new role model to look up to aside from “The Hunger Games'” Katniss Everdeen, who doesn’t have to be too snarky, or have a love interest, or whose body doesn’t have to be emphasized upon to make her be amazing.

All in all, “Tomb Raider” was an enjoyable film which probably broke the video game movie adaptation curse, and which presented us with a brand new version of Lara Croft for a new generation.

What did you think of the new “Tomb Raider”? What did you like and not like about it? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Image Source: Official Warner Bros. Pictures Philippines Facebook Page, Daniel Wu’s Official Instagram, Official Tomb Raider Website

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Tomb Raider (2018) (Spoilers!)

  1. I’m hoping I get to see this one as I quite liked the game reboot. Not sure if I’ll get near a cinema though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. It sounds like they did a decent job.

    1. Thank you for the kind words! Am not a gamer but I definitely liked this version as compared to the Jolie ones. And yes, definitely a decent job although I do have some gripes about it. Hope you get to watch it and when you do, let me know what you thought about it! 😁

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