Tomb Raider is the latest choice in the ongoing pursuit of the perfect video game to movie transition. From Resident Evil to Prince of Persia to the recent Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed, attempts have been made to varied results. Every time a new video game based movie rolls into theaters, moviegoers ask themselves, “Is THIS one gonna be any good?”
Tomb Raider is no different. And my answer to that question? Yes and no.
About the Film
Academy Award-winning actress Alicia Vikander takes on the role of Lara Croft from the 2013 Tomb Raider game that rebooted the series. That Tomb Raider introduced a more vulnerable Lara, new to the world of adventuring. The game enables players to watch one of video game’s most recognizable heroines become the famous figure she is today.
Similarly, in this film, Vikander’s Lara is a troubled young woman unable to accept that her father is dead after his years-long absence. When she finds a clue that suggests her father was up to much more than just business as usual, she embarks on a quest. This quest seeks to find the mythical Himiko, and perhaps her father as well.
Now you’re probably wondering, “How does this go? Is it any good?” Well, I’ve got an answer for you: yes. And no.
If you’ve been waiting for a game to capture the magic of a video game, look no further. Fans of Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Horizon: Zero Dawn will recognize many of the mechanics at play here. There’s a scene where Lara looks up in the wreckage of an airplane and sees bars over her head. What’s she going to do next?
If you’ve played one of the aforementioned games, you know exactly what’s coming – of course, she’s going to use those like monkey bars to pull herself out of a mess. Of course, the plane is going to come crashing down while she manages a series of insane stunts to escape. You wouldn’t have it any other way.
I had a great time watching a live action video game. But that wasn’t what I’d come to see. What I’d come for was a film. And therein lies Tomb Raider’s biggest flaws. It’s lacking in most of the movie mechanics. Vikander is known for powerful performances in The Danish Girl and Ex Machina, but there’s not enough material here for to churn out another poignant portrayal.
Daniel Wu shines as Lu Ren, a ship captain who assists Lara in her travels but isn’t onscreen enough to do much. Dominic West and Walton Goggins, as Lara’s missing father and the villain of the film respectively, have some lines to chew on but turn out mostly forgettable performances.
At some point, the dialogue was corny enough that people were laughing – and not at scenes that were meant to be funny. There’s little substance in this plot that’s clearly more suited for a game than a film – but, with better writing, could have been improved.
Tomb Raider: Overall Movie Score: 6/10
Tomb Raider proves to be another video game turned movie that succeeds in bringing the joy of a video game to the big screen, but still suffers from the usual faults. It’s a fun time but doesn’t have enough substance to keep you coming back.