June 01 2018

Tomb Raider (2018) Guest Movie Review

The 2018 reboot of Tomb Raider is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 12 June so it’s probably a good time for a belated review. It’s the third film based on the hugely popular video game franchise but the first with Oscar-winning Alicia Vikander playing the titular role. Tomb Raider scooped up just shy of $275 million at the global box office but has seen a mixed reception from fans and critics. It’s an entertaining film with a standout performance Vikander but problems with plot and character have allowed the video game movie curse to fight another day.

Core Design’s Tomb Raider was one of biggest video game franchises of the 1990s with a string of bestselling titles. Popularity continued and in 2001, the franchise got its big screen debut with Angelina Jolie playing the role of Lara Croft. Distributed by Paramount, the film performed well at the box office and spawned a sequel two years later. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 2003’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life was better received by critics than its predecessor but box office performance disappointed and the franchise was shelved.

That was perhaps not a surprise. The video game franchise was itself suffering from a decrease in popularity with titles like Core Design’s Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness disappointing fans of the previous games. There was also displeasure critically with a 2003 IGN review calling for a ‘return to its original heyday’. Change was needed and that same year, production for future games was taken away from Core Design.

In 2013, Square Enix released Tomb Raider, a game which saw a reboot of the franchise as well as rave reviews from fans and critics. It spawned a 2015 sequel as well as a revived public interest in the franchise. Suddenly, Tomb Raider was everywhere. There was a puzzle game called Lara Croft Go, a mobile game called Lara Croft: Relic Run and, according to Betway Casino Casino, Croft was even used in a popular online casino game. There was a huge amount of popularity for the new Tomb Raider so it was not a surprise that production began on a new big screen adaptation.

So, we come to the film itself. Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander plays the main character in a film which uses many of the elements which made the 2013 video game so popular. The title is far more grounded and realistic than previous efforts with more emphasis on survival and exploration than supernatural gun-touting sex symbol.

“I’m not that kind of Croft,” Vikander’s Lara insists and that is certainly evidenced when we are introduced not to a wealthy upper-class heiress, but to a London-based bike courier. Things change when Lara happens upon a message left by her long-missing father as a globetrotting adventure ensues. In a not-so-subtle nod to the 2013 video game, Croft is shipwrecked and stranded on a desert island with a band of creepy inhabitants and no means for escape.

There are some fantastic action set pieces in a film which Vikander’s performance is truly the best part of. She does a lot with what she’s given and delivers the most balanced and believable interpretation of Lara Croft we have seen on the big screen. When jumping over chasms and running through a jungle, this a truly solid film but things unravel in the parts in between the action.

A major revelation is so telegraphed that it could have been a double bluff, while nods to a potential wider universe feel a little undeserved given its characters with fewer dimensions than the 1996 video game. Walton Goggins plays bearded villain Mathias Vogel but it’s hard to do more than scowl with dialogue this cheesy.
Overall, it’s an entertaining adaptation which has taken on some of the elements which made the 2013 franchise reboot so popular. Alicia Vikander’s Lara Croft is the best we’ve seen on screen and, hopefully, is good enough to justify another chance. Let’s just hope it’s in a better movie.

3 good things about this movie
The best Lara Croft we have seen on screen
The action sequences are great
It takes many of the aspects which made the 2013 video game so good

3 bad things about this movie
The plot is thin and unconvincing
The dialogue ranged from forgettable to bad
The film looked bad doing anything other than action

Rating: Tomb Raider (2018) gets 2.5 cookays and Vikander earned two of them.


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