Tomb Raider (2018): ‘Video Games as Films’ – A Film Review

 

Introduction

Tomb Raider, the iconic game about Lara Croft, a millionaire adventurer who excavates tombs for ancient artifacts – an inescapable female Indiana Jones. The game builds wonder in its surroundings and the puzzles used to unlock different areas and find these artifacts. This successful videogame series started in the 90s in 1996 and quickly became a staple of PlayStation gaming and entered pop culture mostly as a young boy’s fantasy. It was inevitable that it would enter the film world and become one of the main reasons that video game films aren’t respected a la Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. This 2001 entry got the sex appeal of the boy’s fantasy but ignored many aspects of the character and lazily put together a story to construct fast fight sequences – missing the nuance of exploring the games. Now, in 2018, we’re treated to another take on this character with Tomb Raider and another attempt to bring this game and Lara Croft’s story to the screen. Is this going to be an example of a bad video game film or will this break the mold? Well…

 

The Differences…

In 2013 Crystal Dynamics rebooted the franchise with a new origin story for Lara Croft (here played by Alicia Vikander) and the subsequent game Tomb Raider formed the basis of this film. To this the basic premise feels appropriately adhered to. Despite a focal shift to the survival instincts and endurance of the central character in the game, this film rushes through these elements for pacing – which could have been a bit better. The strangest differences lie in characters that are missing and characters that are put in. Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) is an entirely new character and appears to replace the group that Lara Croft went to yamatai island with to begin with. Where keeping the group could have helped the journey of endurance and strength that the Lara Croft story could have appropriately been about, they instead favour a different emotional stimulus, that feels like a desperate inclusion, of a daddy issue. This was a similar problem with 2001’s Tomb Raider. Though closer to the 2013s game, the inclusion of Richard Croft (Dominic West) through more of the story feels done for an emotional pull only.

 

Forgetting Lara Croft and Tomb Raider

As a film in its own rights, however, Tomb Raider offers a strong but broken underdog who follows a The Da Vinci Code like plot point and through an Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade inspired (and relied upon) search for a MacGuffin. The danger of the island is lost when it is quickly explored, allowing characters to always feel close to each other and never really be in danger or too lost from each other. SPOILERS: This is at its worst at the end in The Eagles Are Coming type end. END OF SPOILERS. However, giving a strong performance that shows a dark sense of endurance and producing an effective action hero, Alicia Vikander makes for a good and modern Lara Croft. The plot, despite many holes (another being Lara’s disappearing wounds), keeps audiences entertained and engaged, making for a fun little film.

 

Conclusion

Abound with problems but with enough entertainment to perhaps ask that the obvious cliffhanger be continued. Making for a better Tomb Raider than the tongue in cheek joke of basic kiss, kiss, bang, bang that was 2001s Tomb Raider, though never quite being an equal to the games. Tomb Raider (2018) is, at least, a step in the right direction, but with strong questions pointing at the need for a daddy issue, that is quite forcibly referred to and emphasised throughout; and another finger to the lack of exploration or tension built between scenes – Tomb Raider was always about the environments and tombs to raid. Perhaps just above average is where Tomb Raider 2018 should fit.

 

Synopsis

Lara Croft is the Black Sheep of her family and about to win an inheritance left by her father assumed dead. Tthis inspires her to search for him and prove that he is alive. Using some of his old research she is able to uncover a lead that brings her in search of a lost and dangerous island with the son of a sailor who knew her father – Lu Ren.

 

 

Ratings

Entertainment:

 starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Performances:

 starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Predictability:

 starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Technical:

 starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

 

A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.

 

Films Mentioned

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (d. Steven Spielberg USA 1989)

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (d. Simon West USA/UK/Japan/Germany 2001)

The Da Vinci Code (d. Ron Howard USA/Malta/France/UK 2006)

Tomb Raider (d. Roar Uthaug UK/USA 2018)

 

Further Reading

rottentomatoes.com

metacritic.com

Official Site

Interview with Roar Uthaug

Interview with Alicia Vikander

Interview with Alicia Vikander on Lara Croft

Easter Eggs

Bloopers

Behind the Scenes

Tomb Raider Timeline

Tomb Raider Differences Film and Game

Lara Croft Sex Symbol

Evolution of Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider 1996 All Cut Scenes

Tomb Raider 2013 All Cut Scenes

 

If you liked this…

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017): ‘The Game Film’ – A Film Review

Kong: Skull Island (2017): – A Film Review

Wonder Woman (2017) – A Film Review

 

This was an analytical review of….

 

Tomb Raider (d. Roar Uthaug UK/USA 2018)

 



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