Tomb Raider Review – It Might Be The Best Video Game Movie to Date But It’s Still Heavily Flawed
There's a lot to like or at the very least appreciate about Tomb Raider. Having recently rewatched the 2001 mess of a film, I can appreciate this film for at least taking the time to try to put together a character and film that doesn't revolve around gratuitous shots of the lead actress's boobs. Tomb Raider takes itself (and the source character they're pulling from) seriously and you can tell that a real effort was put into trying to make this a good film. And while the CG might be spotty in places, with only a $90 million budget, I think it was pretty well done. The action can be intense and will have you genuinely worrying for Alicia Vikander’s safety at times.
But the film does have its pitfalls (like every video game movie unfortunately).
Alicia Vikander is a good enough actress and has enough personality that she could have really bloomed as Lara Croft. Sadly it seems she was directed to play a more muted and dull personality instead. I also wasn’t feeling the decision to make this a complete origin story and have Lara need so much help. The appeal of Lara Croft is that she does all this stuff on her own yet the movie at times felt as if they needed to keep her in training wheels.
A lot of the problems with this film can be boiled down to it being written as if it’s the first in a trilogy of films and not a film that needs to knock it out the park and really grab the audience. Instead of jumping right into the action/island like the 2013 game this movie is based off of, this film opts to subject the audience to 60-90 minutes of boring build up. It’s not a good sign when your film is called TOMB RAIDER and the first time Lara steps foot in a tomb is with about 25 minutes left in the film. The last 30-45 minutes of this film is the film I wanted. Unfortunately all the time before that I spent annoyingly checking my watch.
That’s not to say that the beginning of the film is bad or unwatchable. It’s just not what I was sitting in the theater to watch. I think the makers of video game movies should take some lessons from what comic book movies do. The core group in the audience for a video game film are fans and they’re going to already know the characters and the backstories. You can fill in the rest of the wider general audience set with well-placed flashbacks and strong writing. Tomb Raider makes the mistake of taking the long route to explain all of Lara background and why she’s motivated to search for her father. It’s long, unnecessary hand holding that drags the film down. But again, it could have been much worse.
At this point, being the best movie based off of a video game is like being the tallest person standing in a puddle of human feces. You might be better off than everyone else around you but you're still in deep shit.
That pretty much sums up Tomb Raider. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either and saw a lot of potential. I’d watch this again over just about every other video game movie that’s ever been made. That doesn’t say much but, it’s a start.