Tomb Raider movie review: Alicia Vikander plays a bland Lara Croft in this VFX-heavy, tedious film
Even the action sequences in Tomb Raider feel synthetic and mass produced, giving you the experience of watching someone else play a video game as opposed to you being in control,
The new Tom Raider movie almost feels like a time capsule of sorts – taking us to an era when the game of the same name was in its heyday, nonsensical action set pieces were enough to drive the plot as long they were big enough, and the villain of the film a plan to end the world for an unclear reason. While nostalgia can often work in favor of a film, in this case however it becomes a grating and tedious element that reminds you of better times you’ve had at the cinema.
The curse of the video game-based movies continues to foil Hollywood’s plan as Tomb Raider becomes yet another doomed entry.
After Assassin’s Creed, this was the first time a video game movie had a genuine chance to be an interesting story rather than forgettable schlock but as with every prior game adaptation it crashes and burns.
The film is directed by Norwegian Roar Uthaug who made the interesting The Wave a couple of years ago. The big reasons why that film worked were the well written characters and the fairly realistic approach to disaster movie clichés. Unfortunately, none of those things are found in this movie.
An origin story of sorts, we’re introduced to Croft (Vikander) who goes on an epic journey in the sea to find her missing father, but ends up on an island full of ruffians. As she battles the many dangers of the island she evolves into the kickass heroine we know from the games.
This reboot is mainly targeted towards today’s teens, but the problem is simply this: you cannot make a new generation of audiences interested in a film by simply increasing the quantity of the VFX and still having all the narrative pitfalls of the earlier movies. Like the Angelina Jolie movie, this too has the boring celestial mumbo-jumbo that propels the plot, the cringe worthy father-daughter dynamics that seems straight out of a soap commercial, a side kick that does not add anything substantial to the plot, and the sheer predictability of it all.
The latter is especially frustrating because this movie is very obviously a franchise starter – so you know nothing fatal is actually going to happen to Croft. Because of this kind of execution every time Croft finds herself in a dangerous situation there is absolutely no tension or thrill – we already know she is going to make it out alive and well. This is supposed to be an origin story and the stakes are supposed to be sky high, but there’s little to care about in the barrage of CGI trees, water and arrows.
Even the action sequences in Tomb Raider feel synthetic and mass produced, giving you the experience of watching someone else play a video game as opposed to you being in control, or at the very least swept away by the adventure.
Vikander, although impressively muscular is a rather bland Croft. The only thing the filmmakers manage to do is make her less sexually objectified than Jolie’s incarnation, but there’s a coldness to Vikander’s presence that makes her much less interesting. This is ironic given that Croft from the game reboot that this film is based on is actually a pretty interesting character who showcases vulnerability and heroism in fairly engaging ways.
Goggins is the only bright spark here, channeling a little bit of Vaas from Far Cry, but his villain is too stereotypically written to care much. The search for the genuinely good video game adaptation continues, and you’re better off playing the Tomb Raider game at home rather than expecting something decent from this film.
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