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Tomb Raider (2018): The Game-to-Screen Struggle, Continued

Lara Croft has been a staple in the minds of gamers since the mid 90s, when the world of gaming, graphics and technology was still finding its feet. The original Tomb Raider game burst onto the scene in 1996 to critical acclaim, catapulting its protagonist Lara Croft into history as one of the most recognisable video game characters in the world. Since the release of the original game, the Tomb Raider franchise has spawned many additional games and even the infamous Tomb Raider films of 2001 and 2003, with the one and only Angelina Jolie.

The latest iteration of the Tomb Raider franchise comes in the form of a new film, featuring a talented cast, including Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander, Daniel Wu and Walter Goggins. The film is not only a reboot of the original film series with Angelina Jolie, but draws from the 2013 reboot of the original Tomb Raider game. The 2013 reboot (also called Tomb Raider) and the 2018 film reboot both follow the journey of a young Lara Croft prior to her ultimate final form as dual-wielding, gun toting, adventurous archaeologist.

Though the film comes forward with excellent credentials and all the tools (a strong cast, drawing from a critically acclaimed plot and large budget), somehow it seems to do what most video game films do: disappoint. For all its successful pieces, as a whole, Tomb Raider fails to create the great film it had all the potential to. Instead Tomb Raider is drowned by its obsessively paint-by-numbers plot, which varies strangely and then predictably from the original video game synopsis it draws from.

Many of the characters in the film are one-dimensional, seeming to exist for little reason. Maddeningly, the film also takes a developed antagonist such as Mathias Vogel and somehow squeezes him into an unflattering, average box with little actual purpose. Additionally, any character other than Lara carries little development or thought, leaving the film uninspiring. Even Alicia Vikander, whose dynamic performative chops shine strong throughout the film, is unjustly burdened by the film’s listless plot. Instead of allowing Lara to grow organically as the 2013 video game does, the film only shows her to be outmaneuvered and used by the male characters around her.

That is not to say the film is a complete disaster. The tone and atmosphere of the film somehow capture the strange tenseness of a game as viewers watch Lara physically work through obstacles and tasks. There are parts which feel like gameplay to anyone who has played the 2013 reboot. And when it comes to action, the film feels as raw and honest as its inspiration. Alicia Vikander is fantastic to watch on-screen as a young, reckless teen being forced to leave her childhood baggage behind on a terrifying, cursed island.

Really, the first half of the film is pretty good. After that, the second half is just a bit sad. Ultimately, it refuses to deliver any sort of deeper subversive meaning or story, making it as one-dimensional as each of its supporting characters.

Sadly, in the end, there is little to remember Tomb Raider for. Perhaps the film is worth a watch if you’ve been a fan of Alicia Vikander and the franchise for years, but otherwise its 2013 inspiration rises above, providing actual story, atmosphere, and experience in droves.

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1 Comment

  1. You are wrong on so many levels. It does not even feel like a video game movie at all. Pay attention next time you watch it. Film critics have the easiest job ever which is they do nothing but critic other people’s work in which they can not do themselves. And if you can not do such a meaningless job like this then why bother at all. Definetly broke the so called whatever curse. Not all video game movies are bad like you think and you are suppose to watch the movie not play the movie as a game. Failes to talk about how her character properly changes throughout the movie from a little girl into a powerful headstrong kick butt woman. #constructivecriticismnotnegativeopinions


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