Review: Tomb Raider

In 1996 Toby Gard and Core Design created a character that revolutionized gaming. As one of the first 3D gaming characters Lara Croft not only holds the Guinness World Record as the most recognizable female video game character but has also become a cultural icon still beloved by Tomb Raider fans the world over.

Since this first introduction Tomb Raider has spawned several sequels and seen extension far beyond the confines of a screen to redefine gender in video games. It stands to reason then that any film adaptation of the legendary Lara Croft would have the responsibility of meeting the lofty regard in which fans hold her.

While Tomb Raider has been adapted to the big screen before it was more than a decade ago that Angelina Jolie, fairly successfully, stepped into the boots of Lara Croft. In 2018 the film franchise is rebooted with Roar Uthaug as director and with Academy Award Winner Alicia Vikander at the helm.

With undoubtedly high expectation fans of Lara Croft are likely to leave the cinema somewhat dissatisfied. Even if you were to ignore the bevy of plot holes the fact that the narrative is crammed with explosions, chases, and stunts from the get-go comes at a cost to the film as it fails to build to a genuine crescendo.

The tactic to dissociate the film from key game elements is ill conceived too. Even though she’s on the path towards becoming the great adventurer and archeologist there is no fizz to this Lara’s personality and there isn’t even a snippet of her characteristically caustic humour. And while the 2013 game did rejig the character’s backstory fans of the franchise may feel that Uthaug and his writers were too liberal with some aspects that should’ve remained untouched.

Unfortunately, Tomb Raider won’t surprise you with its plot nor will it elevate the gaming film genre to new heights. But it does have one thing going for it: Alicia Vikander. With this script she doesn’t have much to work with but she conveys the toughness and emerging fierceness that makes her worthy of portraying the iconic character. There is definite potential for Vikander to make Lara Croft her own.

But such an idiosyncratic and classic character warrants more than a string of action sequences that, in combination, produces a rather unexceptional and uninspired action film. If there is a sequel, which seems likely, Vikander and Tomb Raider fans deserve a story they can sink their teeth into.

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