Tomb Raider - 2018
Director(s): Roar Uthaug
Writer(s): Geneva Robertson-Dworet & Alastair Siddons (screenplay) / Evan Daugherty & Geneva Robertson-Dworet (story)
Cinematography by: George Richmond
Editor(s): Stuart Baird, Tom Harrison-Read and Michael Tronick
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu and Kristin Scott Thomas
Synopsis: Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared (IMDB).
Movies are in a weird spot right now. Before, movies just came out and people liked them or not. Word of mouth spread and it either became a box office hit or a miss. In the past decade or so they come with a pre-built expectation, pre-built love or hate and, in this case, pre-built baggage. Even though Tomb Raider has nothing to do, production and talent wise, with all the video game movie adaptations that came before it, they are still carrying the baggage of the likes of Assassins Creed or Super Mario Bros. This is because it’s a video game adaptation and for some reason there is a collective goal among the fandom that a chosen one will appear amongst them to finally lead them to movie success. This is not the chosen one.
Video game adaptations are a tricky genre to tackle. If you recreate too much from the video games, the critique will be “why don’t you just play the video game?”. But, if you change the source material too much people will hate that “it’s not the thing they like”. Making movies is fun. Tomb Raider in this case went for a healthy balance of both. The problem is that what they changed or added to the character was cringe-inducing and added nothing to the overall story. The movie opens up as if it was a sequel to 2012’s Premium Rush (a movie that, according to my wife, I love, but I don’t recall). You know, the Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie in where a dirty cop picks the WRONG bike messenger to screw with? Anyway, we see Lara running around in her bike with her cool friends and colleagues. Do they play a role in the end? Does her biking play a factor in the movie? Nope. It’s just a long-winded set up for the movie we already came to see, in which she raids a tomb.
Once we finally get to the tomb raiding, in Tomb Raider, the movie is fun. The action is entertaining and the puzzle solving, something very prominent in the games, is quite enjoyable. Sadly, the tomb raiding is probably 20-25 mins in a 2hr and 2min movie. If you cut out the incredibly long set up and have her start at the beginning of the adventure I would’ve probably enjoyed it a bit more. Just sprinkle a few flashbacks, very few, and some exposition dialogue to clue in the audience as to why she is going to the island.
Quick note: I absolutely hated the score of this movie. It tried to manipulate me into believing everything was exciting. All scores manipulate the audience, I’m fully aware of it, but many do it subtly or with a different style of score you don’t see coming. This one was generic and loud, almost screaming at the audience “THIS IS EXCITING!”. It wasn’t. She just picked up a piece of paper.
Director Roar Uthaug (2015’s The Wave) and cinematographer George Richmond (Kingsman 1&2) decided not to go for a steady cam shot and the movie suffered for it. There are moments where Lara is just having a conversation and the camera won’t stop moving as if the cameraman had to pee. This adds absolutely nothing to the movie outside of calling attention to the camera. I just kept getting distracted from the plot because I was trying to figure out why the hell is the camera moving so much. The action sequences were handled better, as Richmond has good experience shooting them. The CGI at times is extremely noticeable, but overall they handled the integration very well.
Quick note: If there is no future for Lara Croft in the raiding of tombs, she should consider a career move to the WNBA. Because she has a mean vertical. There are moments where she jumps and it’s as if a team of people are behind the scenes pulling on wires to elevate her through the air.
The acting is ok I guess. I feel they were betrayed by the script. Alicia Vikander is an Academy Award winning actress and she is capable of elevating a script, but this one was too much even for her. There are countless cliched lines, unnecessary use of voice over and overuse of flashbacks. There is a line that made me chuckle at the screen when she said it, and it was supposed to be the climax of an encounter. I hated how they treated Walton Goggins. He is the bad guy of the movie and all he does is repeat how long he has been on the island, that he wants to go home and that he has nobody to talk to despite having a small crew of soldiers with him. What? Does his company have a strict no fraternizing between management and their employees?
Tomb Raider is a generic action-adventure movie that was adapted from an action-adventure video game that was a riff on an action-adventure movie (Indiana Jones). You are better off either playing the video games or watching the far superior source of “inspiration”. Alicia Vikander tries her best, but ultimately doesn’t fully become the Lara Croft fans know and love. The action and the dialogue is cliched and trite, leaving audiences laughing at the ending’s attempt to set up a franchise. Premium Rush is why I love movies.
Tomb Raider is currently playing in theaters. It’s a great Netflix movie.
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