Movie Review: Tomb Raider

Tomb-Raider-posterIt’s a good video game movie! Will wonders never cease?!?

Don’t set your expectations too high, but Alicia Vikander fully brings to life the character of Lara Croft. Taking its cues from the recent successful game of Rise of the Tomb Raider, it suffers from some of the tropes inherent in any hero origin story and from the source games themselves. But mostly it plays out like an updated Indiana Jones with the trappings of Tomb Raider added in, which is both a good and a bad thing.

Our story follows a young Croft, orphaned when her father disappeared on a hunt for an ancient tomb of the “Death Queen” Himiko. When Lara inherits puzzles that her father left behind, she finds his research and takes up the search for herself, convinced that her father may still be alive.

It’s this grounding in humanity, grief and sorrow Lara feels that makes this so relatable to us as an audience, even if the plot is somewhat predictable.

Vikander is also joined by Walton Goggins as the story’s antagonist. Goggins always brings a gleeful sociopathic vibe to whenever he inhabits a villain, and he does this incredibly well here as well. There’s also a brief cameo from Nick Frost, who gives the film one of its funnier moments– even in a movie with lots of humor used to cut the tension.

On top of all of that, the film is action-packed. We barely go ten minutes ever without something happening. Even more impressive is Vikander’s commitment to the role and doing her own stunts, which director Roar Uthaug uses to give us crystal clear close ups of her face during some of the film’s most harrowing moments.

So, yes, it does feel like it treads a lot of the same ground as the Indiana Jones movies. But coming from a video game franchise that has been doing that for decades, that’s not entirely unpredictable — or even a bad thing. It’s sort of like complaining a band ripped off The Beatles. Yeah, so does everybody. It still sounds good.

In a genre which includes Assassin’s Creed, Super Mario Brothers, Street Fighter, Double Dragon, Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, Hitman, Warcraft, and the other two Tomb Raider movies starring Angelina Jolie, the question you always ask yourself is “Would I have rather spent those two hours playing the video game?” In literally every other video game movie, the answer is a profound yes, making them failures as films. This film made me want to go play Rise of the Tomb Raider. Congrats to everyone involved.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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