For What it’s Worth, ‘Tomb Raider’ is the Best Video Game Movie Ever Made

Tomb_Raider_(2018_film)Between this, “Batman v Superman” and “Kong: Skull Island,” I could get used to this “summer blockbuster season starting in March” thing.

“Tomb Raider” is the reboot of the film franchise that starred Angelina Jolie back in the early 2000s, based on the long-time video game series of the same name. Alicia Vikander steps into the boots of the title character Lara Croft, as she tries to track down her missing father on a mysterious island. Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu and Kristin Scott Thomas also star as Norwegian Roar Uthaug makes his Hollywood debut.

The original two “Tomb Raider” films starring Jolie are a bit of a cultural staple, as they were the some of the first action blockbusters to feature a woman in the center role. They weren’t critical successes by any measure but they made some money and have gone down as cult classics. This new film tries to be a little more boots-on-the-ground realistic with its take and while Alicia Vikander may not have the looks of a typical action star, she is a joy to watch in a film that is pretty enjoyable in its own right.

I have been a fan of Vikander since her career took off in 2015 and think that she is one of the most charming and stunning actresses working today (not to mention talented). She could have easily hammed it up for this sort of film, especially if you look at it from the “I have my Oscar now I am going to do the big paycheck movie” perspective. But she gets to do a surprising amount of actual acting, a lot of it with her eyes. Whether it is looking with anger into the eyes of the man who possibly killed her father or her reaction to the first time she is forced to kill another human being, Vikander delivers and goes all out.

As far as the physical aspects of the role she runs around, outwits bad guys and shoots arrows. A little bit of Wonder Woman, Katniss and Princess Leia all rolled into one, this is just another of the long growing list of women on the big screen that young girls can look up to and enjoy.

As the villain, Walter Goggins does solid work and there are a few attempts to humanize his character. There are lines about him longing to return to his family and just wanting to go home, which makes us slightly empathize with him but then the film will have him do something completely inhumane just to remind us he’s mean and somewhat hinder itself.

The action overall is pretty fun, and I admired how they tried their best to pay homage to the fact this is based off a video game without actually awkwardly forcing sequences to play out like it is one. There is a sneaking mission, a few long jumps and a puzzle here and there; it felt a little like a knockoff “Indiana Jones” but I was still digging it.

There are a few plotting and pacing issues (I enjoyed Lara at the start as a bike messenger but some may just want the action to begin) and the plot can feel a bit contrived at points. It all pays off in the end but there are definitely a few parts that could have been trimmed or edited better.

Look, “Tomb Raider” is a fun movie with a talented and beautiful star at its center, and those are two of the biggest reasons people love going to the movies. It sets itself up for a sequel and I for one hope they get it because now that the world is established and Lara has begun raiding tombs there are a lot of fun places that her character can take us. Movies based on video games have a long history of being horrible and/or not loyal to the brand so the bar for this film was never very high but it’s worth saying: “Tomb Raider” is the best film based on a video game ever made.

Critic’s Grade: B–

Warner Bros.

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