Films based on video games have a rocky history and are often criticized extremely harshly. I go into a film like Tomb Raider expecting an action film that entertains me. It isn’t meant to be an oscar winner by any means and Tomb Raider certainly isn’t but it is a good adaptation from a beloved game franchise.
As far as adapting a game, Alicia Vikander does a fantastic job portraying Lara Croft and the film makers added many fabulous call backs to the games. From ice picks to Lara’s grunting, it felt very much like the reboot from 2013. Lara herself is not the same character as I would have liked and I don’t understand why they went a different direction than the games. It’s fine to make changes to the source material however Lara wasn’t previously interest in archaeology in this film which was a massive misstep. Additionally, the story is highly focused around her father to a fault. Lara’s relationship with her father was fine and developed well enough in flashbacks but it was the entire basis for the film and not as interesting as the games.
Despite a few character changes that didn’t make sense and the father-daughter dynamic being too much, the film had many great moments. Lara grunted and struggled as much as the games and it brought a smile to my face. She underwent extreme peril and performed death defying stunts that no one could survive and yet she does. It was so similar to the new franchise and was a beautiful tribute to fans. Further, Lara’s ice pick, though used too little, was great fun to see. Her prowess with a bow was a delight and she solved numerous puzzles throughout the movie. I almost wished I could have tried to solve the puzzles with her but then it wouldn’t be a film anymore.
The supporting cast is used enough but withheld so that we understand that this is Lara’s story. Vikander acted the part extremely well and I hope she gets to do so again in a sequel. Tomb Raider is certainly one of the best video game adaptations to date and deserves to be explored again. There are many moments that Lara find herself alone and vulnerable and she always comes out on the other end, generally with some degree of injury. It was extremely enjoyable to watch her get her first kill and Vikander acted the part expertly. It was a moment where the audience could tell that Lara did not want to kill but had no other option. Vikander expressed the emotion of someone who is fighting for survival and struggling with her morality.
The villain, Matthais Vogel (Walton Goggins), was not very layered but felt like he fit in the film where he should. As far as video game and comic book villains go, he was generic but no more so than Steppenwolf from Justice League or Darren Cross from Ant-Man. Matthais fought for his cause with ferocity and a determination to get home to his family. It was a worthy motivation and one that I found believable. It brought home the idea that a parent will go to extreme lengths for their children. Working for the evil organization Trinity, a gamer would understand that Matthias didn’t really have any other choice but to do what his superiors say or face the consequences. Someone who hasn’t played the games may feel that Matthias was a poor villain and lacked good motivation which is a minor issue since it can’t be expected that every viewer has played the game.
Tomb Raider is easily the best Lara Croft film if not one of the best video game films. It isn’t a masterpiece by any means but it brings a fun story, great action, good acting and a lot of fun to the table. Seeing ice picks, grunting, unrealistic action, death defying stunts, supernatural based story elements, a bow and arrow and more were a pure delight for this gamer guy. I genuinely hope the film brings in some good money so that we can get a sequel. I enjoy video game based movies and want to see more on the big screen. Congratulations to Alicia Vikander on her wonderful portrayal of a beloved character even if some of the decisions the writing team made with the character were disappointing. Overall, Tomb Raider, is a fun action flick worth a couple hours of your time.
3 out of 5 Couch Cushions and a throw pillow!!!