‘Tomb Raider’ Movie Review – Is It Worth The Ticket To Ride?
Film adaptations of video games are typically awful. As an avid gamer and a frequent movie goer I love the idea of seeing these games on the big screen, but they typically end in brutal disappointment. Occasionally we get a solid adaptation like “Silent Hill” but mostly we are just left with movies such as “Alone in the Dark” or “Super Mario Bros”. At times, it almost seems like the writers of these films just glance at the cover art and are completely ignorant of the actual source material. I was relieved when I first saw the promo material for the 2018 “Tomb Raider”. It was obvious to me that it would, at the very least, be respectful to the franchise and the character of Lara Croft. I am happy to say, aside from some slow pacing and very clichéd storytelling, “Tomb Raider” is one of the best videogame adaptations I have seen. The bar was set fairly low, but it was refreshing to see an adaptation of a franchise I love, created by people who obviously love it too. The story is solid, the performances are surprisingly great, and the effects are first-rate.
The story of “Tomb Raider” is heavily inspired by the 2013 reboot of the game. The movie hits a lot of the major beats from the game while changing things up enough to make it feel fresh. Several of the supporting cast from the game were cut out but this was likely an attempt to trim a 15 hour game down to a two hour movie. The film opens in London, and as much as that isn’t the setting I want to see in a Tomb Raider movie, these scenes help to establish Lara’s motivation and status as a novice bad ass. Lara’s father has been missing for seven years and she is struggling to come to terms with the fact that he is most likely dead. She finds a clue to his possible whereabouts and heads to Hong Kong to begin the search.
Surprisingly things really start bogging down in the second act of the movie on the island. There were numerous times where I just felt like nothing was really happening and I kept hoping for things to pick back up. Thankfully the movie ramps up towards the end and has enough satisfying moments to make you forgive the slow pacing.
Alicia Vikander is incredible as Lara Croft. This younger and more vulnerable version of the character was established in the 2013 rebooted game and Alicia nails it. She didn’t quite look the part but she was so bad ass throughout the film that it didn’t bother me. They did a great job of establishing her strengths and abilities before she gets to the island. This movie really focuses on Lara as a steadfast, courageous, ass kicker and Vikander is an amazing action star. Even though the character doesn’t exist in the games, I really liked the addition of Lu Ren (Daniel Wu). He was a strong and occasionally comical character that added another layer to the story. Without his character a lot of moments in the film wouldn’t have felt as impactful. Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) was a fantastic villain as anticipated, but they really could have amped up his insanity even further than they did. He is such a great actor that I would have loved to see him completely off the rails. The only casting I disliked was Dominic West as Lara’s father Lord Richard Croft. Something about his character felt really out of place and almost ridiculous at times. Most of the scenes with him felt awkward and unnecessary. He didn’t add much to the story at all aside from some convenient motivation for Lara.
Overall “Tomb Raider” isn’t going to change anyone’s life but it is entertaining and fun, and what else can you ask for from an action-adventure movie. If you are a fan of the game series or adventure films you will find something to enjoy about this movie. If there is a sequel I will gladly pay money to see Lara Croft in action again. I give “Tomb Raider” a 7 out of 10.