I recently had the opportunity to see the newest Lara Croft reboot movie: Tomb Raider. It was a mostly pleasurable experience. Let me give a warning that I am a huge fan of the rebooted video games, both Tomb Raider (2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015), though I was never a fan of the game series before those. I also hated the original movies starring Angelina Jolie (though they did have some cool action scenes).
I had little knowledge of this movie before seeing it. I saw the trailer (once, months ago), but I haven’t watched or heard any reviews of it outside that.
While I’m going into this review assuming most of you at least have general knowledge of what this movie is about, I’ll give a brief synopsis for anyone who knows nothing of it.
Synopsis: Lara Croft is the wealthy daughter of famed British archeologist Richard Croft, who went missing seven years ago in search of the mythical queen of Yamatai (for history lovers, this is the real life capital of 1st century Japan whose location is still debated by historians). Now Lara discovers the clues that her father left behind and, in hopes of proving to everyone he is not dead, travels to the ocean around Japan to find the legendary queen Himiko (real shaman queen of ancient Japan) and possibly figure out what happened to her father.
For those of you who have played the game, yep, that is pretty much the plot of the first reboot. However, the movie vastly deviates from the plot of the original game, also incorporating Easter Eggs from other games (like more info of the hidden corporation of Trinity or the character of Ana). Now, unto the review.
It is a beautiful film. Every shot is well-done. Some of the action scenes early on (especially the bike race) were a bit jolting, but for the most part I was in awe of the beauty of this movie. Whether it is on the island, in the sea, or London, everything was so pretty!
The action scenes were also amazing. Whether it was Lara running (she ran A LOT) or fighting, everything is so strategically choreographed. Although there is a fair amount of action, it never feels old or boring. Saying that, it is quite violent for a PG-13 movie, and if you are queasy about violence, stay away from this movie. However, this is based on a game rated M (for mature, or over 17), so I understand that violence is part of the franchise. You certainly have to suspend disbelief about that violence. I mean, there is no way Lara will survive half the things she leaves with merely a scratch. But the games are like that too, so I’ll suspend disbelief.
Saying that, there were some issues I had with the film. The first thirty minutes felt pointless. It’s pretty much about Lara struggling with not accepting her father’s death. I understand you need to establish some of the characters, like Lara and Ana. But most of the characters in the beginning (Nitin—this random guy who has a crush on Lara—and all the guys who challenge her to a bike race) add nothing to the plot.
When Lara decided to go the Hong Kong, the film got great. But a good film should not take 30 minutes to get to the good part. The filmmakers could have easily gotten rid of all the filler scenes and narrowed the beginning down to 5 to 10 minutes. I think the movie would have been so much better then!
I did like that Lara is introduced in this movie as being innocent. She’s not the hardened archeologist we meet in many of the games (and old movies). Instead, she is young and, while she has a lot of historical knowledge, she trusting and kind. I like that this movie showed a more sympathetic version of Lara Croft.
Now, unto the spoilers!
Just for reference for other gamers, the movie meets up with where the game starts about 35 minutes in. In fact, if I had started the movie at that point, I don’t think I would have lost any information.
This may just be me being petty, but why does Lara never take the time to read the papers Ana gives her to sign? The first time she certainly doesn’t and the filmmakers never give us any indication by the end that she does. She gives power to Ana to control the organization. Now, I knew Ana was a villain because I played the games, but if I hadn’t I would still be screaming at Lara through the screen. YOU NEVER SIGN ANYTHING WITHOUT READING IT, LARA! PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!
Okay, I feel better now…
Anyway, my favorite character had to be Lu Ren (played by Daniel Wu), the Hong Kong ship captain Lara hires to take her to the island. I loved him—he was both sympathetic and also strong. Though, I do wonder how a ship captain knows how to shoot a gun…just saying. I also adored Walton Goggins as the villain Matthias. Though, he was a one-dimensional character. He was evil. That’s about it. He wasn’t a complex character, but Goggins played him so well I had to enjoy his scenes.
So, now to the biggest spoilers—I did warn you. Lara’s dad is not dead. Yay! He’s alive; he’s just been stuck on the island for seven years. That’s amazing…until he dies an hour later…I mean, what? You got us so excited that he’s alive just to kill him. I get it that Lara’s dad is dead in all the games, so it makes sense that he would die in this, but still! His being in the film added nothing imperative to the plot besides stitching Lara up and getting captured so that Matthias could blackmail Lara to help him get inside the tomb. He did nothing that another character couldn’t have easily done. I’m just saying.
And the movie totally wasted Derek Jacobi. I mean, he was in two scenes. He’s one of the greatest Shakespearian actors of all time. You can’t just waste him by inserting him into two throw-away scenes!
While I enjoyed the movie, it was certainly nothing to write home to. It was fun, but not something I could really rave about. As for the adaptation between game and film, I thought the filmmakers did an excellent job. Ignore the first 30 minutes, and the movie followed the games well while still transitioning over smoothly from two very different platforms. If you are a fan of the games—like I am—you will enjoy this movie. It definitely feels like it was made for the fans.
However, as a movie in of itself, it was just okay. It was fun, but the emotions felt stinted and there were a lot of irrelevant scenes. Saying that, I’m glad I saw it.
My Random Two Favorite Quotes:
Wind flows from inside the cave…
“It’s just a change in atmospheric pressure.”
“Where’s the floor?”
Yep, there were some pretty funny lines in this movie.
If you’ve seen it, what are your thoughts (whether you were a fan of the games or watched it from a blank sheet)? If not, are you interested in seeing it? Let me know down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness, and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,