Tomb Raider (2018)
Critic Consensus: Tomb Raider reboots the franchise with a more grounded approach and a star who's clearly more than up to the task -- neither of which are well served by an uninspired origin story.
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Critic Reviews for Tomb Raider
Vikander, who can balance flinty charm with sympathetic humanism, helped keep me invested, but Tomb Raider could best be described as a solid step forward, away from past wrongs.
"Tomb Raider," stuffed though it is with curses, vaults, and locks that cry out for secret keys, is not really about a legendary quest, or family honor. It's about Alicia Vikander.
There's no way to hate a movie that has spiked poles, booby-trapped caves and zombies, but you can fault it for not trying as hard as it should.
[Vikander] invests herself in Lara Croft, and the filmmakers, unlike the ones Jolie got saddled with, frame her with awe rather than lust. Now if only they could bring some of that awe to the tombs...
For a while, it looked like director Roar Uthaug was going to deliver a video game movie that transcended the genre, mostly through the neat trick of having his ass-kicking heroine be driven by the thoroughly human desire to be Daddy's little girl again.
Audience Reviews for Tomb Raider
Lara Croft was best known for her exaggerated physical assets (rendered as Madonna-worthy pointed polygons) and short shorts than as any sort of character. She was realized on the big screen in 2001's Tomb Raider as an elite physical specimen portrayed by Angelina Jolie, where the filmmakers went the added step of padding Jolie's bosom to better reflect the source material's image. The filmmakers literally thought this aspect would be make-or-break with fans, as if Jolie herself was not naturally vivacious enough. As you can imagine, Lara Croft was primarily seen as a sexy avatar, whether on the small screen or the big screen. This new Tomb Raider aims to better ground its story, tone, and central heroine, and it mostly succeeds. This is a solid, pleasantly enjoyable mid-tier action movie that might also qualify as the best video-game-to-film adaptation so far (sorry Uwe Boll). Lara (Alicia Vikander) is struggling in the wake of her father's (Dominic West) disappearance. It's been years but she holds onto hope that dear old dad is still out there. One day, she discovers her father's secret study and a video message he recorded confessing why he left. He's seeking a fabled tomb on a hidden island off the coast of Japan, a tomb devoted to a powerful goddess of myth who sacrificed her admirers. Also looking for the tomb is Vogel (Walton Goggins) and a team of armed mercenaries. Lara must stay ahead of the mercenaries, find her father and the long-lost hidden tomb. This is a Lara Croft stripped down and absent the male gaze, which has defined her travails just as much as the treasure hunting adventures. There's not a single shot in the movie that seeks to ogle Vikander's lean body. Even her outfit, as mentioned a staple of Croft's early appeal, is a modest take top and khakis. The emphasis this time is on what she endures and overcomes rather than the curvature of her body. This is an attempt at an origin tale, rebooting Lara for a new generation of fans. She's less the cool buxom sexpot with the twin pistols than a struggling young woman facing her fears. This is the first time Lara Croft has been envisioned as a character. There's a level of broader realism that the movie holds onto, positioning this Croft as less the gun blazing super cool badass and more as a stealthy, plucky, and scrappy figure of moderate action. There are moments where she hides and moments where she runs, as they are the best recourse. She's not imposing in her build and poise like a Gina Carano (Haywire) but Vikander's got some serious moves. With all that in mind, let's not get too carried away here. Lara Croft may have some extra dimensions but she's not exactly a fully formed, three-dimensional character or boasting the kind of magnetic personality that drew us to Indiana Jones or even a Nathan Drake. She's capable but also limited in interest and charisma. The action is invigorating enough and given a clear scope of play. Norwegian director Roar Uthaug (The Wave) orchestrates the action in clean long shots and precise edits, allowing the audience a clear sense of what is happening. A frantic bicycle chase and foot chase in the first act are given extra vitality by a roaming camera that takes in the full view. There's enough variety in the action and natural consequences to keep things interesting. This is a movie that doesn't feel overpowered with CGI, even though I know it's present. Uthaug makes a point of emphasizing practical effects and sets, which adds a further level of realism to the excitement. I'd call it a more pared down, realistic version of an action adventure but it still has outlandish set pieces like Lara finding refuge atop a crumbling WWII era bomber that just so happens to be wedged atop a rock face overlooking a steep waterfall. Even during these moments, and the last act takes place almost entirely within the ancient tomb and its traps, the movie keeps things relatively credible. It's fun without being too flippant and serious enough without losing its sense of amusement. Tomb Raider reminded me a lot of a big-screen version of an Uncharted game, a rollicking adventure that also feels rooted in our own world, but with a hint of the supernatural creeping along the edges. The conclusion has a few nice surprises following this pattern even with the possibility of actual zombies emerging. Vianker (The Danish Girl) acquits herself nicely in the realm of action-adventure. She gained twelve pounds of muscle and has a pretty impressive six-pack. Vikander is a smaller actress by nature but the filmmakers do a fine job of placing her in believable action scenarios that rely upon her athleticism. Her Lara is a stubbornly independent protagonist who refuses to give up, which makes her a winning force even when her personality fails to sufficiently light up the screen. Vikander hurls herself into the role, performing an impressive array of stunts, and yelping along to the genre demands. There are some plot holes that are hard to ignore, mostly pertaining to motivations. In the first act, we learn tat Lara is heir to a vast fortune of money and a big company that owns many other subsidiaries. However, she refuses to essentially inherit the company because it means having to sign papers declaring her missing father as deceased. I understand the character's rejection of wanting to accept her father's death, but when taken to this extent it becomes almost comical. Lara is seen scraping by for enough money to survive on her own. She's forced to pawn her heirlooms and work as a bicycle messenger. She's struggling to get by and yet her pride is standing between her and a massive fortune. This is just stupid. What's to stop Lara from signing the paperwork, inheriting the fortune, and using said fortune to continue the search for her father? There's also the motivation of her absentee father, who left to thwart the bad guys from finding the special tomb. However, he inadvertently leads them there because he was tracked. Had he not even left, the bad guys would not have found the island's location and he could have been in Lara's life. This is transparent potting to simply move the pieces across a board. Another example is Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) a ship captain ally she picks up that serves no real purpose other than ferrying her to the island. One character that benefits from motivation is the villain, Vogel. He's not some mustache-twirling rogue but rather a guy hired for a job that wants to go home and see his kids again. It's a nice, empathetic touch that makes Vogel grounded and a better fit. Tomb Raider is a smaller, leaner, and enjoyable little action movie of modest ambitions. That sounds very conditional, I'll admit, but it's a scaled-down version of an exaggerated character doing splashy, sexy, exaggerated action heroics. It's a stripped down reboot that grounds the action while still finding enough ways to have fun. It does get a little caught up in the edicts of an origin tale, overpowering moments with "First" significance (First Adventure, First Kill, First Fight, etc.). There are also some head-scratching plot holes that get glossed over to keep things moving along. Vikander is one tough cookie, and the film celebrates her brains as well as her brawn and absent any ogling camerawork. Tomb Raider is a suitably exciting action film that gives some hope for future Croft adventures. Nate's Grade: B
Over the years, many writers and directors have attempted to make solid films based on beloved video game franchises, but they've almost always failed. For that reason alone, the bar was already very low, so this review may need to be taken with a grain of salt. For what it's worth, Tomb Raider is easily one of the best adaptations ever made. It's riddled with many of the same issues that previous attempts have, but these movies need to have a sense of fun and adventure, which I believe this film provides. This movie isn't going to be remembered as great, but it will almost always be present when speaking about the best films to come from a video game. If you're a fan of the games or just want to have a fun (even if disposable) time at the movies, then here's why I will absolutely recommend Tomb Raider to you. It's many years after the disappearance of her father and Lara Croft sets out on a journey to find a tomb that has been a mystery for years. Being the island that her father reportedly died at, she's faced with the sadness of her past. Filled with energy and fun action set pieces, this film clicks along at a fairly brisk pace, even though it does drag in some areas. It tries very hard to accomplish an emotional core in order to win over its audience in the third act, and for the most part, it works. The emotional core is one of the more enjoyable aspects about Tomb Raider, due to the fact that the performances here are truly what elevates this film from mediocre to good. Alicia Vikander continuously reminds audiences around the world that she's an actress who will be around for a very long time and I have zero complaints about that. Her portrayal of Lara Croft is far better than what Angelina Jolie brought to the role many years ago and the sense of adventure and story itself is also on a much more mature level. From Walton Goggins as the core villain to the short amount of screen time that Dominic West has as Lara's father, I can't commend this film enough for trying very hard with its characters. That being said, the screenplay itself could've used a few tweaks. Yes, as you can see, I was pleasantly surprised during my experience of Tomb Raider, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows I'm afraid. The dialogue definitely feels streamlined at times, not leaving enough clues for the audience to figure out the puzzles. They choose to allow the characters on-screen to reveal the answers after they've figured them out in their heads. On top of that, the climax of this film places every character in an impossible situation and it felt like I was watching someone try to accomplish an impossible task in an adventure-based video game. If you can forgive that, then the climax can be quite entertaining, but it's also very ridiculous and out of place when comparing it to the rest of the movie. In the end, Tomb Raider definitely won't make any top ten lists for 2018, nor will it be remembered as a great movie, but it's without question one of the best adaptations from a video game that's ever been made. It's not without a few glaring issues and the dialogue can be slightly generic and cringe-worthy at times, but I'd be lying if I didn't call this a fun adventure flick with some terrific and devoted performances all around. For action junkies or fans dying to see a decent adaptation for once, I feel no shame in recommending this one. I'm happy to say that this isn't a bad film and I would actually love if they're able to make a sequel. That may not be saying much for some people, but that seems like a fairly strong statement to me.
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