Review – Tomb Raider (2018)
Directed by: Roar Uthaug
Written by: Geneva Robertson-Dworet & Alastair Siddons
Produced by: Patrick McCormick & Denis O’Sullivan
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West & Walton Goggins
Release Date: March 14th 2018
I re-watched the 2018 Tomb Raider movie for review recently and I still believe that this is the greatest video game movie ever made.
Now, I know what you are thinking, “Dan, this is an unremarkable, often forgotten, half baked attempt at launching a Tomb Raider franchise; you can’t open your review with a statement like that!”
Well the thing is, all other video game movies that has been made are so poor, that this mediocre action-adventure flick is the gold standard in comparison.
If you played the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot game, then you will see a lot of similarities here, except most of it isn’t done as well as it was done in the game. First of all, they spend far too much time following Lara in London before she goes on her adventure. For some reason she lives a poor life as a delivery girl that can’t even afford to pay her gym membership, even though she has a massive fortune of inheritance money sitting there that is hers once she signs off on her father’s death certificate. Her dad is played by Dominic West, who is one of my favourite actors, but unfortunately he is kind of wasted here. He went missing seven years ago and is the catalyst for Lara’s adventure to begin.
So she goes to Thailand to look for the guy that her dad bought the boat from to go to the remote island with the treasure on it. The guy she finds from Into The Badlands, turns out to be the boatman’s son and he agrees to help her for some cash. He is actually pretty enjoyable in the movie and probably does a better job selling his character than his Oscar winning co-star, but we will get back to that later.
So the two of them go to this remote island and a storm hits the boat, forcing the two of them overboard. Lara wakes up with Walton Goggins’ character Mathias holding her at gun point. Mathias is nothing like he was in the game, where he was a mad priest type character, here he is a tired faithless mercenary that just wants to get the job done and go home. Walton Goggins, who again is one of my favourite actors, does his best with the material that he is given. The issue being that the material is pretty garbage, which is the case for this movie’s script in general.
From here, Lara goes through the motions of becoming more of a bad-ass survivor. This leads us into some exciting action set pieces that call back to the original game and are probably the best parts of the movie, so I won’t spoil them here.
Let’s talk about Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft. I have liked Alicia Vikander in every other role that I have seen her in and I was looking forward to seeing her performance as this iconic character. However, she just doesn’t sell the character for me. I’m not sure if it’s the material that the filmmakers gave her to work with, but she is totally underwhelming and never defines the character in any major way or makes it her own.
You could have cast any young actress in this role and you would have gotten the same result. The other rumoured names before Vikander was officially cast were Emelia Clarke and Daisey Ridley. Any one of those would yielded the exact same results meaning that while Vikander was perfectly serviceable, she brought nothing special or original to the role.
Next I want to cover some of the movie’s technical elements. The special effects were actually pretty impressive overall. The CGI backdrops all looked pretty convincing and even the use of character animation that was sprinkled in here and there looked pretty good and didn’t distract or take me out of the movie too much. However, everything else was totally unremarkable. From the direction, to the lighting, to the cinematography, to the score, it was all just passable and nothing more.
Before I conclude this review, I want to briefly touch on something that this movie does that I hate seeing in movies. For some reason this movie repeatedly shows us flashbacks of something that happened just minutes beforehand. It is so frustrating and totally breaks the pace of the movie. It also feels as if the filmmakers are treating their audience like complete idiots that can’t piece their predictable plot together without explicitly spelling it out by showing us the same flashback for the fourth time. Hollywood please stop doing this, it totally breaks any flow that your movie almost had and is so painfully unnecessary it hurts, give us some credit as moviegoers.
Overall, this is a decent action adventure romp that works okay if you don’t think about it too much. It isn’t anything special in any way and doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done better by other franchises before. You will have a decent time with this as long as you don’t expect something that is going to bring the video game movie into legendary status.
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