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Tomb Raider (2018) | Film Review | Discussion & Spoilers

March 22, 2018

 

Tomb Raider is a 2018 action-adventure film directed by Roar Uthaug and stars Alicia Vikander.  The film is based on the video game character Lara Croft and is loosely based on the 2013 video game of the same name.  

 

The film follows Lara Croft, a young woman who is trying to make it on her own.  She participates in mixed-martial arts at a local gym and delivers food for a local restaurant to make ends meet.  She seems to have a playful, nonchalant attitude until she gets in trouble with the police for participating in an illegal bike race and crashing her bike into a police car.  As she sits in jail after her altercation with the police, we learn that her family is very rich, yet she isolates herself from them for an unknown reason. 

 

It is revealed that Lara Croft's father, Richard Croft, is a very successful businessman who went missing seven years prior to her arrest.  Her father's business associate, Ana Miller, comes to get Lara out of jail, and while doing so requests that Lara sign papers that officially state Richard Croft as deceased.  Ana tells Lara that she will have access to her inheritance if she does so. 

 

Lara takes some time and eventually decides to sign the papers declaring her father dead.  As she is doing so however, she discovers that her father has left her clues to a secret room in his mausoleum.  She leaves Ana Miller and a lawyer in the Croft offices before she signs the papers declaring her father deceased and heads to the mausoleum at her father's estate.  While searching her father's secret room, Lara discovers that her father had a secret passion for archaeology and finds clues that point to his last known whereabouts.  Using this information, she sets to the South Pacific in order to find out if he is still alive or dead as everyone believes.  

 

The rest of the film follows Lara as she tries to discover the whereabouts of her father and trying to solve the mystery of the location her father was investigating when he disappeared.

 

If you love this movie, you might also love: 

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

The Mummy (1999)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

The Goonies (1985)

 

Below, I've included information about film content (disturbing scenes, violence) and spoilers (spoilers are located at the very end).  

 

Film Content:

 

Any disturbing scenes?

 

Not really; I found the movie to be fairly mild.  There is a scene where a woman is impaled by a stick or piece of metal and she pulls it out of her abdomen.  A man stitches a woman's stomach but the camera does not linger on the wound for long.  There is a scene where some men are infected by a disease and their skin becomes rotted and black, but it is not gross or gory.

 

Violence? 


Yes.  A woman flips her bike over a car and is hurt.  A woman is hit on the head with an object.  People are shot with bullets and arrows, but there are no close-ups or gory shots of their bodies.  A woman is impaled with a stick or long piece of metal in her abdomen.  A woman and a man fight with their fists and legs.  A woman force-feeds a man a severed finger.  A man falls to his death off of a cliff.  A bomb causes a large explosion within a tomb.

 

Spoilers: 

 

After discovering her father's secret room and learning he was last headed for Hong Kong, Lara goes to Hong Kong and seeks out a boat captain named Lu Ren, who she believes can help her.  Lara pays Lu Ren to take her to the island where her father was last destined for, and on the way reads her father's detailed journal.  She learns her father was seeking answers to the mystery of the legend of Himiko.  Himiko was a woman who was rumored to have power over life and death.  Himiko supposedly abused that power and killed so many people that her own army set out to stop her.  After her army overpowered her, they took her away from the mainland, took her to an island in the middle of the Devil's Triangle and buried her deeply underground.  Lara believes she has pinpointed the exact island and she and Lu set out to discover if her father is on the island.

 

Lara and Lu travel for several days and one night, encounter a severe storm.  During the storm, Lu tells Lara he believes they have discovered the island, but the boat is in trouble due to the storm and has begun to sink.  He tells Lara they must abandon the ship.  Lara grabs her belongings and meets Lu at the front of the ship, but soon loses track of Lu in the storm.  Lara finally makes it to shore, unsure where Lu is.  As she looks around, she sees blurry figures and is abruptly hit on the back of the head.

 

Lara wakes up the next day to find herself in a tent with a strange man.  The man acts strangely, which alarms Lara.  The man tells her that his name is Matthias Vogel, and that he is searching for something on the island.  Lara makes a dash for her backpack and begins to search her backpack for her belongings.  She soon discovers that her father's journal, which contains clues about Himiko's whereabouts, is missing.  Vogel shows her that he has her journal and tells her that she has brought him exactly what he has been looking for.  Lara learns that Vogel has killed her father because her father would not tell him where Himiko's tomb was.  

 

Lara is devastated by this revelation and leaves the tent without her belongings.  She looks around outside of the tent and discovers that she is in the middle of a work site.  Lara sees that there are many people who have been enslaved to search for Himiko's tomb, including Lu Ren.  Lara is bound at the wrists and enslaved as well.  Vogel comes out of the tent and tells his men that they are to move out to a different location in order to find Himiko's tomb.  After getting to the location, Lara escapes with the help of Lu Ren, and eventually makes it to the beach although Lu Ren remains enslaved.

 

She hides out in a cave and is discovered one night by one of Vogel's henchmen.  She fights him to the death, and as she is sobbing over what she has done, sees a shadowy figure watching her.  She runs after the figure, who disappears into a cave.  She soon discovers that the figure is her father, who has not been killed by Vogel after all.  Lara reconnects with her father and tells him that she came to the island to find him.  Richard Croft assumes that Lara has destroyed all of his notes on Himiko, and when Lara tells him she did not destroy any of his notes, Richard is understandably terrified that Vogel will release Himiko and destroy the world.

 

Richard and Lara leave to try to stop Vogel from opening Himiko's tomb.  Richard is soon captured by Vogel, and Lara opens the tomb for Vogel in order to preserve her father's life.  Lu Ren and the other slaves escape while this is going on, but head back to the site to save Lara once Lu Ren convinces them that Lara helped them, so they must help her too.

 

After entering the tomb, the group of people have to dodge traps and solve puzzles in order to get to Himiko.  They finally get to Himiko's coffin, and Vogel tells his henchmen to open the coffin.  The men are hesitant, but eventually open the coffin.  

 

After opening the coffin, the men see that Himiko looks young at first, but soon looks old and mummified.  Himiko sits up in the coffin, scaring the group, but after looking behind Himiko, the group sees that Himiko is propped up by a contraption and assume it's a farce.  However, as the henchmen try to lift Himiko out of the coffin, one man touches Himiko's hand and begins to rot.  He screams and seemingly goes insane, trying to kill others in the group until he is killed mercifully.  

 

Although Richard and Lara argue that Himiko carries a virus that could kill everyone in the world, Vogel decides that the risk is worth the power, and cuts off Himiko's finger in order to bring it to the organization he works for.  Richard is attacked and infected by one of the infected henchmen, and tells Lara that he has to blow up the tomb with explosives in order to keep the world safe.  Vogel leaves, and after saying her goodbyes to her father, Lara chases after Vogel.  

 

Lara fights Vogel and finally defeats him after shoving Himiko's finger into his mouth, thus infecting him.  She throws Vogel off of a cliff and runs out of the tomb just as the explosives go off.  

 

Lu Ren and the rest of the slaves are seen digging for Lara after the explosion, and soon hear Lara calling for help.  Lu digs Lara out from the fallen rocks and they catch a ride on the helicopters Vogel called for before he died.  Lu, Lara, and the rest of the slaves leave the island for safety.  Later, Lara goes to the Croft offices to sign papers declaring her father deceased.  She looks through a large book that shows what companies Croft Holdings own, and discovers that the company owns the organization Vogel was working for.  Lara figures out that Ana Miller is working for the same organization Vogel was working for (Trinity) and that Trinity was trying to take over Croft Holdings via Ana.  Lara decides that she will need to investigate other leads her father had before he died and investigates the secret room again.  

 

 So what did I think about this movie?  Discussion time:

 

I didn't really like this movie, which was surprising to me.  I have played every Tomb Raider game, starting from the original Tomb Raider games for the PlayStation One to the most current Tomb Raider games.  I can't say that I liked all of the games, but I did like learning new things about Lara Croft's history and solving complicated puzzles. 

 

I watched both Tomb Raider movies starring Angelina Jolie, and although they weren't necessarily good, I liked them because they were about Lara Croft and Angelina Jolie was Lara Croft. I believed in her interactions with other characters and her motives in the film, even if the scripts weren't the greatest.

 

I liked Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., so I figured I would like this movie too.

 

The first thing I noticed about the film was that Lara Croft wasn't strong or particularly adept in fighting.  She practiced mixed-martial arts, but in the first scene she gets choked out by another woman, which didn't give me a lot of confidence in her fighting skills.  She was also much less subdued than she has been in the games.  Lara Croft in the games comes across as a sort of proper English woman who can fight, solve complicated puzzles, and is a deeply emotional and serious character.  Alicia Vikander played Lara Croft as more mischievous and somewhat less deep than how Lara has been portrayed in the past.  There didn't seem to be a lot of deep emotion when Lara was talking to her father both in the first cave where he was living and the last cave when he was about to die.  I felt that the actors didn't have a connection where they really felt like they were father and daughter and I didn't feel that much when they had to part ways. 

 

I did feel that Alicia Vikander portrayed Lara somewhat like she was portrayed in the Tomb Raider game the movie is loosely based on (from 2013) because that Lara was supposed to be portrayed as a survivor who grows stronger throughout the game.  Well, at least at first.  In the first half of the movie, it seemed like she was building up to that, but then it just kind of fell flat in the second half.  I never felt like she fought and struggled that much to become stronger both physically and mentally.  She went through some struggles, but it was nothing like the game.  I felt like there wasn't really any significant change from the beginning to the end; she just became less serious as the movie went on.  There wasn't a change in weapons or anything either.

 

All Alicia Vikander had in the second half of the movie was a bow and arrow (I thought at some point she'd get a gun or two guns).  The bow looked so flimsy, like something you get as a toy or something.  It seemed out of place too; where had she been practicing how to use a bow and arrow in London?  It seemed like all she did was mixed-martial arts practice, food delivery, and occasional illegal bike races.  I can't really picture her going into an archery range and practicing with a cheap-looking plastic bow.  I understand that they wouldn't want to show her using guns because they are illegal in England, but some backstory with the bow and arrow (as an adult) would have made more sense than all of the sudden putting it in her hands and acting like she is a professional archer.  Even knives would make more sense for her to practice with and be good with than a bow and arrow, considering the backstory they gave us about her in this movie.

 

Also, I'm not really sure why, but Alicia Vikander wasn't exactly right for the role of Lara Croft.  It seemed like it'd be a good fit.  When I heard she was playing Lara Croft, I was excited because she looks a bit like the Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider (2013) game and she was good in the movies I've seen her in.  In the movie, her acting was fine but nothing spectacular.  I never really felt like she had any real connection with anyone in the movie; I would have rather she didn't talk to that many people because every time she interacted with someone it took me out of the movie.  I think it really was just miscasting because Dominic West did a great job portraying Richard Croft, and Walton Goggins was great at portraying Vogel.  Daniel Wu was great as Lu Ren.  I found myself wishing he was in the movie more than he was; he seemed like an interesting character with very little time to develop his backstory. 

 

I also think that Alicia Vikander is very subtle in her acting and maybe that's why I couldn't connect to the way she portrayed Lara Croft.  In the 2013 game, you really feel for Lara Croft.  You are with her in every situation and you feel a great deal of empathy for her because she's very emotive.  She cries, she fights, she struggles every bit of the way, and since Alicia Vikander seems to be more subtle in her emotions, it just doesn't match the Lara in the 2013 game.  The lines in the movie were sometimes joking or sarcastic, which didn't fit with how much Lara Croft was supposed to have struggled and fought to become a survivor. 

 

Every time Alicia Vikander made a comment like that, it made me think of the Tomb Raider (2013) game and how that Lara Croft wouldn't talk like that because it was a serious situation.  In the movie, there was never really a part where I was worried that Lara was going to die.  I just assumed that she'd make it because nothing was really taken seriously.  In the game, you worry for Lara because she finds herself constantly threatened and you worry about her getting hurt or killed.  I believe the reason the game revamp was such a success was because Lara Croft was portrayed as a survivor.  You're there with her from the beginning and you help her grow stronger.  You see her transformation and feel proud of her; this movie took that premise and turned it into sort of a joke.  I mean, if you were Lara Croft and you were worried that every second your life was threatened, you probably would have a lot of trauma and therefore wouldn't be making jokes.  The movie was way more lighthearted than the game, which I think was a mistake.  

 

As far as how the movie compared to the 2013 game, there were very few puzzles in the game and the movie was no different.  There was one puzzle to figure out in the movie and it was lame.  The movie set in the tomb looked completely fake to me.  In the movie Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), there was one part in the beginning of the movie where the columns inside the tomb fell, broke apart, and floated on the water.  It was so obvious they were not heavy rock that it was laughable.  The tomb portion of this movie felt like that.  There was a part where Lara puts colored pieces in a hole to solve a puzzle and they looked like cheap plastic.  Whether they were cheap plastic or not, I don't know, but they looked it and it took me out of the movie.  I kept thinking, they couldn't find anything better?  I thought the tomb portion looked cheap for the most part and was poorly done.  

 

All in all, I thought the movie was okay.  It's definitely not something I'd watch in the theater if I had known what I know now.  I'd watch it at home as a rental because I like Lara Croft as a character, but putting the kind of money towards it that a movie theater requires is too much for what it is. 

 

 

If you have any questions about this movie, please feel free to ask.

 

Thanks,

A

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