Tomb Raider– 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Tomb Raider – 3/5 – Film is a subjective medium.  You and a friend can go into a theater and come out with two different experiences.  Even if you disagree, the one universal trait is that video game movies suck.  For all their shortcomings, there are times when some (Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil) can be bearable as B-style entertainment.  Tomb Raider is another attempt to adapt a well-known video game franchise.  From the brass and fortitude, this is a film that barely reaches it mark.  For all the basic storytelling and generic characters, the action and main lead is enough to make Tomb Raider a fun adventure film.

Premise:  Lara Croft, with clues left behind by her father, travels to a mysterious Japanese Island.  As things occur, will Croft be able to find the truth before island unearths something unimaginable.

In the lead role of Lara Croft is Alicia Vikander.  This actress does the best she can to capture the essence of the video game.  Vikander is able to ground the character to something believable.  From her interactions, subtle fortitude and strong wits creates a human element for the audience.  From the auspicious fight scenes, crazy scenarios and will to survive, Vikander takes the ‘heroic’ trope and adds a certain candor to the development.  For the rest of the cast, please refer to the film’s IMDb page.  The secondary characters are all ripped from any adventure film.  From the sidekick to the villain, it is basic interpretation with no depth.  The dull execution and obvious dialogue creates a mind cringe scenario for these actors/actresses.  What keeps the audience focused is the main character.

The direction takes all the elements you find in an adventure film and molds it into an adaptation of the video game.  By laying the groundwork of ‘finding/searching’ for a ‘mystical item,’ the only thing that makes this different is:

Main character – Lara Croft

Setting – Mysterious Island off the coast of Japan

Macguffin – a priestess of Japanese lore

With these guiding the story, it lays a linear but predictable ‘hero’s journey’ to find the truth and save the world.  After a prologue to introduces the main character, setting and Macguffin, the first act follows Lara Croft as she uses clues (left by her father) to find the island.  Once we have a dramatic encounter, we head into a second act that links scenes through forced dialogue, convenient plot devices, standard action and unemotional character development.  The generalities make the grand set pieces feel empty.  After this, the film takes a turn to focus on the character of Lara Croft.  This takes the monotone direction and adds some fervor to the mundane, creating some ‘heart’ where you believed none existed.  Once we have a purposeful anchor, the film quickly uses dialogue and some unresolved exposition to lead Croft the tomb.  Once the location is revealed, the third act brings in the foreshadowing elements of the Japanese Priest.  Random puzzle pieces, death defying scenarios and a unique revelation brings out the best of the adventure tropes.  Once at the climax, it is a predictable showdown between ‘hero’ and ‘villain’.  In the epilogue, the film wraps up in a way that you feel you weren’t completely disappointed.

The visuals are a mixture of grounded aesthetic with outrageous set pieces.  Bringing elements from the game, the cinematography blends CGI with actual locations.  From vast forest and aging tombs, you get a great sense of wonder and peril.  The score is nothing out of the ordinary, but it is worth noting music is there.

Tomb Raider is an average adventure film.  With a strong lead and some enjoyment in the third act, you will find something that is entertaining.  If you’re a fan of the games or like adventures, this is one for you.  At best, this is worth seeing at a matinee.

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