MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Tomb Raider’ (2018)

It's not the worst video game to film adaptation, but that's not saying very much...

Review by J.T. Johnson

DIRECTOR: Roar Uthaug
CINEMATOGRAPHY: George Richmond
WRITERS: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons
MUSIC: Junkie XL

For years now, we have been plagued by bad video game adaptations. The last one that comes to my mind was “Assassin’s Creed”, which had a bankable star in an absolutely atrocious film. Now, “Tomb Raider” returns with a film that is based on the more recently rebooted video game franchise and while it does remain faithful to the source, it cannot get past an uninspired story that sees the rise of Alicia Vikander’s Lara Croft.

When Lara was a teenager, her father Richard Croft (Dominic West) disappeared. Lara spends her adulthood as a bicycle carrier learning to fight and shoot bows and arrows. She is also avoiding the moment that she has to sign for her inheritance, thus claiming that her father is truly dead. She soon finds clues to what he was searching for and learns that he led a double-life, one as a businessman and the other as a seeker of the supernatural.

Lara decides to chase after her father and soon hooks up with Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), a man whose own father went with Richard in search of an ancient tomb on an uninhabited island. Once on the island, Lara meets the creepy and crazy archeologist Mathias Vogel, played by Walton Goggins. After escaping from Mathias’ soldiers, she finds herself on her own as she goes about trying to stop Mathias.

From the start, the movie suffers from one absolutely mind-numbing thing and that is atrocious dialogue that couldn’t be more cliché if it wanted to be. Yes, come to this movie and you’ll get to hear all the classics such as “You Never Should Have Come Here” and “You Messed with the Wrong Family”. Seriously, there are moments when it looks like this film might actually turn into a decent little adventure film, but then someone speaks and ruins everything.

The actors do try their best and I think that Vikander is absolutely perfect as Lara, but even the performers struggle a bit with the script’s terrible lines. It also doesn’t help that the movie is filled with some pretty big logic holes as well. One of them happens pretty quickly during the film’s first act.

It is set up that Lara could sign some papers that will give her access to a massive inheritance. Instead of simply signing the papers, she pawns off her priceless neckless to get some cash in order to get to the island. Now, I understand that she thinks that her father could still be alive, but go ahead and sign the damn papers and get the proper funds for your trip. If you happen to return with your father alive, then you can deal with the paperwork later.

Of course, we can’t really deal with signing the papers right away, can we? This is because the film, once again on the verge of being a perfectly okay adventure film, is dealt a death blow by a quick cliffhanger which is an obvious setup for a sequel and little else. Yes, everything needs to be a franchise these days, but set up a good first film that can stand on its two legs and then we can talk about a sequel afterwards.

This version of a big screen “Tomb Raider” film is definitely a marked improvement over the original Angelina Jolie films. It even has a few decent action scenes that made me want to go play the video game. Unfortunately, it can’t quite shake the curse of being a lackluster adaptation of a video game despite a confident lead.

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