Tomb Raider (2018) Review

director: Roar Uthaug

writers: Geneva Robertson-Dworet & Alastair Siddons

starring: Alicia Vikander, Walton Goggins and Daniel Wu

genre: Action | Adventure 

released: 15 March 2018 (Australia, Germany  & Greece), 16 March 2018 (USA)

If you want action, a little bit of adventure, even romance and a touch of the occult then you should head on over and see the original 'Tomb Raider' or better yet the 'Indiana Jones' trilogy. As the new 'Tomb Raider' takes realism to its core, making it inherently lack any spark of hope in its exploration of the world and instead goes down the plot path of countless other TV series and movies where there is an evil corporation that has their hands in everything and they messed as expected with the wrong person.

story:

Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) lost her father on one of his secret expeditions leading her to still not sign his death certificate to inherit the fortune he had left behind for her. Because of this she has been learning to live on her own and push herself by having hobbies of pure adrenaline, stamina and strength.

What changes it all is when she finally takes the step to sign the certificate and a clue is revealed with a trail of bread crumbs for Lara to follow and solve. This will eventually lead her to the island of 'Death' where she will find out what happened to her father and for the first time in her life be truly over her head.

thoughts: 

For the past lets say twenty to twenty-five years there has been a videogame curse. No videogame film has been able to make supposedly a healthy profit or generate sequels to a large scale. There might have been a few exceptions to the rule, but even those weren't of the highest quality or seen by many. One of those exceptions was the 'Tomb Raider' series with Angelina Jolie that were silly, supernatural, adventure films that were faithful enough to the games and still had a good story to tell with some decent action in the mix. Ten or so years later the company who owns the videogame series decided to reboot its film counterpart with a new incarnation of the Lara Croft character from the latest videogame. This time around though her entry point into Tomb Raiding is more an emotional and coincidental with its realistic plot. However, its also at the same time more reminiscent of the other hit video game franchise 'Uncharted' then its first games that had Dinosaurs and mysterious dimensional openings and other fun ideas that even the first films played around with. While this change does make the series go on a new path, it does lose its charm of having a world where magic was possible. Also, lets not forget when you make your story more realistic you better get your characters to sometimes sulk and contemplate their place in the world. Something the film didn't do and should have.

Moving on, while the film isn't as bad or ridiculous as most of the 'Resident Evil' films, it is still fairly empty in its attempt to make you love the world and its characters. In a way, its a slightly better 'National Treasure' film, but still had a way to go. For one, everything does happen pretty fast for Lara to get on her journey and everything that happens before it seems to be only there so the audience doesn't get confused about her backstory and her special skills that will come into play later on. Because god forbid we were dropped into her adventure while on the boat to the Island of 'Death' and saw that she was fully capable of taking her of herself without the prestigious "training" scenes.

Additionally, and coming back to having Lara sulk in her misery. There is one scene in the film in particular that should have been its most defining moment and that is the one where Lara kills a man for the first time. This should have been a longer and more tense scene for Lara who never thought this would have happen to her and finally realizes what she's gotten herself into. Rushing to be something more than she is to please her father or herself. And before we even get that moment to sink in with her breaking down and understanding she is in hell. The movie rushes the plot forward with a big reveal immediately afterwards devoiding Lara from a character building moment that would have defined her separately from the other important moment that happens later in the film. Which was worthy of inclusion, but happened so early on and close to Lara's personal moment that it didn't allow the twist and her killing scene to reach its potential high point.

Besides that the film in its conclusion solidifies the fact that this 'Tomb Raider' world doesn't give any reason for the supernatural to exist and that is kind of sad. What Lara's father believed and his quests were about were for the supernatural to be real and it seems with his death that the quest is gone and only for Lara to debunk it. Leading the series down not necessarily a Tomb Raiding path, but a revenge tale. Which gives the character purpose granted and drive for the later films, but not sure how much that is going to keep the Tomb Raiding series going overall. As people didn't play the videogames for the archaeology or for her struggle with a fictional greedy enterprise alone. But, because their was a force for good and evil fighting over artifacts that could lead to a better or worse world due to the supernatural elements we thought to be only of myth and fairy-tale. While, also incredible locations, death defying acts and cool action set pieces that may include Dinosaurs. Here the series is going down a path of lacking those special characteristics that made it cool and its action was minimal at times and with no real stand out moments.

Naturally, that is not to say nothing right was done with the film, but nothing was done that you are going to tell another person to go out and see this film. The film's origin of Lara is too much of the time concerned with her skills and backstory that will be needed on the island than who Lara is. Instead, the actual best part about it is her being a delivery person and an adrenaline freak. Through this we get the idea that she likes having fun, pushing the limits of herself, even though she knows it might get the better of her and it's also the only part of the film where she interacts with other characters without it being about the plot or her drama. The film I accept has to provide the backstory and her skills potentially at some point, but the excessive use of flashback seems especially to ante it up in that regard, with the film going overboard once she reaches Hong Kong which was tedious. With the screenwriters of the film for example choosing instead of a potential funny scene of her having to con her way on the boat or get herself to get to know the captain better and then finding out who he is and creating a bond between each other. The production chose to go with the film jumping right into a mini action scene where someone steals her bag. As if someone read the script and believed no one would believe she is capable of handling herself if we don't see it before things gets even worse for her on the island or because some test audience member said it was too boring as there wasn't any action for the past 10 minutes. Either way it was a bad call and in these situations patience is required for the action to be savored for later on and the character should always come first and in this film it didn't.

verdict:

The new 'Tomb Raider' will be quickly forgotten of and maybe due to its international box office we will get one day a sequel, but not many though will be interested after this first showing. As its heightened realism compared to the previous incarnation didn't do much to make audiences believe it was a worthwhile project to be made. And while the exploration and mythology parts of the film where at times interesting, they weren't many and were inter-cut with some personal drama scenes that weren't beefed up enough and without the required emotional weight in order to accept the said added realism.

Personal Rating:

review by Paul Katsaros

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