Review – ‘Tomb Raider’ is an affectionate reboot that hands Alicia Vikander a franchise role

Patrick Wilson is the main host of the weekly Popcorn Muncher Podcast and also writes as a regular guest contributor to The Popcorn Muncher.

Poster for 2018 action-adventure film Tomb Raider

Genre: Adventure
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 16th March 2018
Runtime: 118 minutes
Director: Roar Uthaug
Writer: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Daniel Wu, Walton Goggins, Dominic West, Kristin Scott Thomas, Nick Frost, Jaime Winstone
Synopsis: In search of her father, an adventurous young woman retraces his last known steps and finds something strange going on surrounding an ancient tomb on a hidden island.

 

 

Tomb Raider is back. This time around, filmmaker Roar Uthaug is taking inspiration from the 2013 game remake of the series, which favoured turning Lara Croft into a more rounded character than the big-breasted, gun-loving woman of the past. This game focused heavily on survival and Lara’s transformation into a stronger willed and more resilient person. The movie carries over a lot of these elements, as well as several of the game’s set pieces, but adjusts the narrative to suit a three-act movie structure.

The plot follows Lara, played by Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander, as she struggles to come to terms with the disappearance of her father (Dominic West). When she finds a last message from her father with clues as to his whereabouts, she sets of to a mysterious island in the hope of finding the parent she has always idolised.

The movie does a fantastic job of remixing elements of its source material into action set pieces, while also coming up with original ideas of its own. The action is fun and frantic at times and brutal at others, which keeps things interesting and surprising. This also helps build Lara as a character. The majority of things the audience learns about Lara are portrayed through action and the choices she makes, which is really refreshing to see and serves an action-orientated movie much better.

Alicia Vikander herself helps this tremendously. Vikander has stood out in movies like Ex Machina and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and here she really shows off what a presence she can be on the big screen. She physically embodies the character perfectly and manages to elevate the whole production through her portrayal. Much like Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman, a new action star is certainly born here.

Tomb Raider is, for the most part, a solid and gripping action movie but, unfortunately, it falters in the third act when the majority of the titular tomb-raiding happens. This stretch goes on for too long and starts to build on several aspects of franchise creation that come way too late in the game. Without spoiling anything, there’s also a manner of dealing with the game franchise’s supernatural elements in this new, more grounded take and it screams of trying to both have its cake and eat it. These elements are overly explained, yet barely make sense, and by this point in the movie, it’s just exhausting and a little too much.

Despite a weak third act, the new take on Tomb Raider is a thoroughly entertaining action romp through the majority of its running time and it features a long overdue star-making turn for Vikander. It’s one of the first times I’ve seen a video game movie that has been so faithful to its source material, yet restrained enough to know what to chop and change for the sake of adaptation. That is a commendable thing indeed.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Pop!

The new take on Tomb Raider is far from perfect. In its efforts to be a more grounded take on the character, the film short-changes some of the elements of its third act, undermining some of the brilliant work that had been done in the first half of the movie. Alicia Vikander, though, makes for a compelling Lara Croft and it’s great to see her finally slotting into the franchise role she has always deserved.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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