Tomb Raider – Movie Review – Entertaining adventure, elevated by Alicia Vikander.

Back in 2013 a brand new Tomb Raider game was released which served as a reboot to both the story and the character of Lara Croft. It chose to depict a more human and vulnerable Lara, as we witness her become the Tomb Raider we knew her to be. It was a great game, in actual fact it was my favourite game I played that year. Now the same approach has been taken with the Tomb Raider films. This is an attempt to reboot the franchise after the previous two films we received in 2001 and 2003 starring Angelina Jolie.

This film follows Lara (Alicia Vikander) as she tackles her struggling every day life, whilst constantly declining to sign for everything her missing father (Dominic West) left for her in his will. But after a series of events she is pushed beyond her limits, when she travels to the same island where her father disappeared.

Alicia Vikander absolutely is Lara Croft. She was fantastic. Her physicality is very impressive. She got into immense physical shape for this role and it completely pays off on screen, especially in her action sequences. She very naturally grounds the character making her feel like a real person. She also brings dramatic nuance to the role in a way only an actor of her calibre could. The more dramatic sensibilities were lightly sprinkled through out the script, but it’s her talented capabilities as an actress that elevated the material written for her on the page.

The script is a bit of a mixed bag, the first act of the film is great. It’s loaded with energy as we witness Lara in her day to day life whilst we learn more about her. I was throughly enjoying the film during the first act. As the film moves forward the pace does begin to slow down a little too much during the second act once she gets on the island. Whilst the film does follow the same story as the 2013 game it’s adapting, it does deviate from the games story at certain points. There’s a twist revealed in the second act that I wasn’t initially fond of, but I eventually grew to accept it because it helped develop Lara even further.

As for the rest of the cast, I liked Daniel Wu’s portrayal of Lu Ren, a man Lara befriends and persuades to venture out to the island with her. He left a great impression in his earlier scenes and his chemistry with Alicia was fun to watch. Unfortunately once they get to the island he is sidelined, and pretty much forgotten about for the rest of the film. I would’ve liked to see him feature within the more adventurous aspects of the film, particularly during the third act. Walton Goggins is essentially wasted as the villain, Mathias Vogel. He lacked a compelling motive and was clearly underwritten. Walton just about managed to stop him from feeling too generic, and all that credit certainly deserves to go to Walton not the script.

The action set pieces were well staged and shot pretty well. They managed to recreate some key sequences from the 2013 game and as a fan of that particular game, it was great to see those moments translate to the screen in such an exciting manner. When we finally get to the scenes within the tomb, the film really begins to hit it’s stride again. There’s a handful of subtle visual references to the games once we get to that point, and the puzzles along with the mystery surrounding the myth they are trying to uncover was interesting. Despite that there were still improvements to be made. The puzzles could’ve been better by allowing the viewer to try and uncover them along with Lara. Instead we just end up watching her attempt to solve them, without being able to even test our own minds at the same time. I was also quite underwhelmed with the conclusion to the myth in this tomb and what we learn about it. There’s a supernatural element to the game that I hoped this film would follow, but the script doesn’t really commit to it.

Overall Tomb Raider is undoubtedly an entertaining film. Alicia Vikander embodies this new take on Lara Croft very well, whilst also bringing a layer of depth to role that isn’t fully written within the script. The action is exciting and the moments being pulled from the game are plentiful. The film is just let down by a poorly written villain, and a sluggish second act that slows down the momentum the great first act had created.

★★★

(3 Stars Out of 5)

-T.Graham.

Tomb Raider – Starring Alicia Vikander, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu and Dominic West.

Directed by Roar Uthaug.

Now showing in cinemas.

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