a critiQal film review Tomb Raider (2018)

Plot: Lara Croft (Vikander) is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished years earlier. Hoping to solve the mystery of her father's disappearance, Croft embarks on a perilous journey to his last-known destination - a fabled tomb on a mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan. The stakes couldn't be higher as Lara must rely on her sharp mind, blind faith and stubborn spirit to venture into the unknown.

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  • ...Vikander's Lara Croft is a more believable and down-to-earth action heroine - it's just too bad the writers gave up before they finished the entire movie.

When perusing the new releases, we ran across a film we had heard some good things about: Tomb Raider. Based on the popular video game of the 90’s, and a reboot of the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) series, this one had people saying good things about it back when it hit theaters in March.

But, would we agree this new Tomb Raider was worth watching? Or is this another case of a reboot just wasting our time?

Alicia Vikander takes over for Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. She’s got the same cocksure attitude as Jolie, but portraying a much younger character, where that attitude can be chalked up to some 20-something angst rather than the cold aloofness that Jolie brought to the role.

So Alicia manages to bring the attitude with more realism than Jolie did. But can she match up when the action heats up? Thankfully, she’s not bad. She’s nowhere near the ace combat-heroine-in-heels that Jolie was, but she manages to make it through her action sequences almost in spite of herself. She does have a few skills (which are fleshed out in the intro section of the film), but she uses her rudimentary skills to full advantage when in peril. She’s definitely not a match for Jolie’s Lara in the kick butt department, but she’s much more believable as an everyday gal caught up in something bigger than she was expecting. And that makes Tomb Raider feel a little more down-to-earth.

Unfortunately, the other characters don’t really match up in Tomb Raider. While the previous films had a decent – if generically bland – villain, Walton Goggins is better served as playing a secondary villain, rather than the primary one. He just doesn’t quite have enough screen presence to make him truly an antagonist for the hero, even if the hero is a slim gal like Alicia.

Another major difference in this Tomb Raider is the money situation. Whereas Jolie’s version was part of the reckless rich, Alicia’s Lara is just a normal young woman with a job. Sure, she’s a bit reckless, and still going through a rebellious phase, but she doesn’t have her own mansion – yet. That part is explained rather well also, although the fact they would hold the money for over 7 years seems a bit of a stretch.

Thankfully, this time around, it seems like the creators got Tomb Raider right. Rather then the superheroine she was portrayed as in the previous films, Alicia’s Lara is much more down-to-earth – and therefore more relatable. In a world that has recently become inundated with superheroes in every medium, it’s nice that Tomb Raider hearkens instead to the classic Indiana Jones series.

This happens to be beneficial for the viewer on two fronts. Not only does the film manage to remove the aloofness that Jolie’s version couldn’t shake, they manage to present the viewer with something that can make up for a disappointment that everyone hasn’t quite gotten over yet: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). By making Tomb Raider more of a throwback to part of the original Indy trilogy (notably Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)), viewers get a taste of the new Indy film they wanted.

Unfortunately, it’s only a taste. Obviously, there’s no Harrison Ford. But more to the point, the puzzles aren’t nearly as intricate or thought-provoking as those showcased in the third Indy film. Instead, these puzzles are here more for something for the heroine to get through, rather than really there to stump anyone. Which is too bad, since the film seems to be going along pretty good up to that point. It’s like the writers just gave up, and wrote in whatever bland action sequence they could to fill the rest of the time.

Alicia seems to have stumbled across something pretty good here. Hopefully, they’ll work harder on the script the next time around (like, maybe, the whole way through), and this Tomb Raider series may survive past a lone sequel.

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