Review: Tomb Raider (2018) — Mediocre even when not compared to the game

vikander lara croft tomb raider 2018 movie still

Tomb Raider

Movie review

Directed by Roar Uthaug (The Wave) and screenwritten by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons (Trespass Against Us), Tomb Raider is the live-action movie adaptation of the 2013-2015 action-adventure survivor video game series and is a reboot from the 2001-2003 films based on the first instalment of the game series’ reboot. The film’s plot follows protagonist Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) who goes on a dangerous trip to last known destination of her father, Richard Croft (Dominic West), who has mysteriously disappeared for years.

The film made a number of changes and trims off many characters from the source material just to merge two game’s plot into a two-hour movie while wasting a lot of time in the first act to develop the character in the most formulaic way before finally reaching the destination where the game almost immediately starts off at. It also dropped off the compelling survivor and supernatural elements of the game. Was it for the better? No, even the game felt grittier and less cheesy. Was it to at least make it a little unpredictable for the fans of the game? No, it’s frustratingly cliched. The game’s writing, narratives and characterisation are far more superior than this adaptation.

lara croft on plane tomb raider 2018 movie still

Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, Ex Machina) does well with the material she’s given but unfortunately the material is poor. The game’s young Lara Croft is humble, innocent, focused, serious and already an archaeology graduate on her first expedition whereas the film’s is a corny girl with daddy issues who did not go to college and recklessly goes on the journey to seek closure. Maybe the film tried to add a bit of the personality of the original Lara Croft but I certainly did not find the film’s heroine as admirable and engaging as the 2013 game’s. And Daniel Wu’s role as Lu Ren, well, he’s there, unnecessary to the story but necessary, perhaps, to attract the massive Chinese market. I don’t even want to get started on the lazy alterations made to the antagonist Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins), who’s more interesting in the game and just a typical stock villain in this film.

The game’s gameplay is a mix of stealth, action, inventory management and puzzles. In the film, we don’t get to see Lara make her own weapon and the audience are only given one puzzle to “solve with the character” (all the other puzzles are simply solved by the characters without clear clues given to the audience), and that one puzzle is easier than the easiest puzzles in the game. The action sequences are nothing to shout about and used a lot of cuts and closeups. But sufficient, perhaps, to satisfy action fans. While I do like the MMA choreography performed convincingly by Vikander, the fight scenes are no where near as impressive or ambitious as the ones in films like Atomic Blonde (2017) which was performed by the 40-year-old Charlize Theron. And the moments that’re supposed to be gripping — Lara falling, hanging and struggling — didn’t give me the thrills either.

However, to be fair, compared to most live-action adaptations of video games like Assassin’s Creed (2016) and Hitman: Agent 47 (2015), Tomb Raider is actually quite decent. It’s not as terrible and it’s definitely better than the previous live-action Tomb Raider films. But if we put those considerations aside, it’s just a formulaic, cliched mystery-action-adventure flick that’s not even as enjoyable as the National Treasure films (2004 – 2007).

What I would’ve named the film: “Don’t Want To Be Rich Until I Know My Dad is Dead For Sure!”

Malaysian censorship: I didn’t notice anything that needs to be censored. It’s rated P13 and it’s neither as sexy or violent as the games anyway.

Verdict: Better than most live-action adaptations of video games but still not good enough.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

Tomb Raider 2018 movie poster malaysiaBased on: “Tomb Raider” video games by Crystal Dynamics

Genre: Action, adventure, mystery
Running Time: 118 minutes
Director: Roar Uthaug
Screenwriters: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Derek Jacobi and Kristin Scott Thomas

Malaysia Release Date: 8 March 2018
Rated: P13
Local Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Malaysia
Production: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Bros. Pictures, GK Films

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