Joining a slew of rebooted films, we have Tomb Raider heading back to theaters 15 years after its last appearance on the big screen, at that time Angelina Jolie starred as the title character Lara Croft. Not only is this a reboot, but also a movie from a genre that typically does not do well in theaters and that genre is video games. Does this movie break the video game to big screen curse? Let’s find out below.
In 1996 Core Design & Eidos Interactive released the first Tomb Raider game where we meet our Protagonist, Lara Croft. Now 22 years later and 16+ video games for the franchise have been released over various formats PS1 to PS4, Xbox to Xbox one, even mobile and of course PC versions of the numerous games have been released. Comic books, novels, soundtracks, even a short-lived tv series, produced by GameTap, were made for this franchise.
In 2001 Angelina Jolie portrayed our heroine in the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and in the 2003 sequel Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life. Now while my crush for Angelina made it possible for me to endure the first movie, the second one Cradle of Life was such a dumpster fire that I had to take a break from Angelina. This attitude is nothing new since over the years Video games that have been adapted into movies are usually not great, even if the game itself was. Such greats as Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter, Doom, Need for Speed, or any of the list of films done by that unholy demon, Uwe Boll. For the most part, all the games I mentioned were all good games right up to the point where someone decided to put that game on film and show it to the world.
Luckily for us, This Tomb Raider movie is one of the better game adaptions I’ve seen in a long time. The movie closely follows the 2013 game Tomb Raider game, which is also a reboot of the game series. And starts us off with how Lara becomes the globetrotting adventurer she is. In the game Lara, a young and ambitious archaeology graduate has some theories on the location of a lost island Yamatai, located in the Dragons triangle, and the civilization that once existed there. Yamatai was once ruled by a queen named Himiko named the “Sun Queen” who was rumored to be able to control the weather and would destroy any ships that came near the island. Lara convinces descendants of the people from Yamatai to fund her expedition to find the island and unearth its secrets. While on her journey a storm strikes and destroys the ship that Lara and the rest of her party are on and she is separated from the rest of her crew and must now fight for survival on the island against animals and a secret cult called the Solarii that worship the Sun Queen Himiko to this day.
In the movie, Lara (Alicia Vikander) is trying to make it on her own and hasn’t claimed the fortunes that is her birthright … yet! After some prodding by a family friend, she learns about her father’s, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West) last trip and about Himiko and the lost civilization of Yamatai. She finds her way to Hong Kong where she seeks out ship Captain Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) to take her to Yamatai and very soon we get the storm that strands her and her new ally on the island where they come across our villain, Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) a man who works for a super-secret organization known only as, Trinity.
For an origin story, Vikander did a good job. You see that Lara was already trying to make a life on her own without having to rely on family money to get by. I mean honestly can you imagine someone worth millions of dollars doing odd jobs just to make ends meet, refusing to accept their inheritance? A bit of the game history has changed in the movie, but seeing as how Lara’s history has changed 3 times over the past 22 years I had no issue with the changes they made to get the story moving along. Daniel Wu had a very small role and didn’t really affect much as did Dominic West, but these characters really aren’t supposed to do much. After all, it’s a story about Lara Croft and when problems arise she’s just gotta put her big girl pants on and deal with it, and deal with it she does. No damsel in distress to be saved in this movie, she’ll save herself. Walton Goggins as the villain, Mathias Vogel, was perfect as far as I’m concerned but I may be a bit biased because I really like Goggins as an actor. From his portrayals as Boyd Crowder in Justified, Billy in Django Unchained, or Venus Van Dam in Sons of Anarchy, Goggins has yet to disappoint me in the roles he plays.
The problems in the movie are minor and going into them would just be nitpicky and they are not so bad that they ruined anything for me. There is one part however between Richard Croft and Mathias where something Mathias said he had done pops up later in the movie and he’s surprised by it. Not only is he surprised by it but they just glossed right over it and moved on with the movie, and this is something that could have been fixed with one or two sentences. Again, this doesn’t ruin the movie for me but it was the one huge glaring plot hole I saw that could have been easily fixed. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed Tomb Raider and the movie already sets itself up for possible sequels later on. Seeing as how the current rebooted game series titles are Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and the recently announced third game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider I’m guessing we’ve got the titles for the next 2 movies we just gotta film them.