Tomb Raider hits cinemas today and finally the review embargo has lifted. Whilst the reviews are decidedly mixed, as of writing the films holds a score of 52% on aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.
Here are some excerpts from major reviews:
Plot and character development fall off a cliff between crazy action — Lara goes flying down a waterfall and through a rusted aircraft in one scene and runs an obstacle course later on that would make Indiana Jones flinch. But there are some fun moments that are welcome when they come, and Vikander boasts amazing abs and insane traps for a highly physical role that diversifies her résumé compared with the more thespian-ready stuff (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl). That said, her leaping in superhuman fashion over a crumbling crevasse tests the limits of belief suspension. Tomb Raider isn’t subtle in planting seeds for sequels. With this fumble as the first outing, though, it’s game over already.
The Los Angeles Times
Most significantly, perhaps, this “Tomb Raider” arrives at a moment when female protagonists are far better represented in mainstream American action cinema than they were when the Jolie movies were released. Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor may remain the most venerable examples of this tradition, but fans now have Wonder Woman, Imperator Furiosa and Katniss Everdeen — who, like Lara Croft, wields a mean bow and arrow. They have the women of “Black Panther” and “Annihilation,” plus Alice from “Resident Evil.” They have Captain Marvel to look forward to. None of this abundance dilutes the basic satisfaction of watching Vikander’s Lara shed her nice-girl inhibitions and embrace her destiny, even if that means predictably swinging, leaping, hacking and punching her way through another assembly line of perils. It’s hardly the first or last time Hollywood has plundered one of its own long-dormant properties, but it’s also a reminder that not every resurrection has to feel like a desecration.
In its lesser moments, this revival of Tomb Raider feels as ill-advised as that of the recent Tom Cruise vehicle, The Mummy. Neither brings anything new to franchises that would have better been left undisturbed for a few more years. Vikander is striking enough as Lara Croft to make the role her own, to banish memories of Angelina Jolie (and perhaps to justify further instalments) but the film itself is strictly by the numbers.
Since the genre of video games-turned-into-feature films has inflicted some real doozies on audiences, “Tomb Raider” towers above most of its peers by being merely OK. By any other measure, this is a saga of fits and starts, and we can only hope for smoother sailing if the film inspires the sequels it clearly hopes to engender.
Uthaug also manages to work in a few genuinely cool visual tricks, though the dialogue, from a serviceable script by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons is strictly standard; a mix of clunky action-movie exposition and winking Indiana Jones-style humor. The final revelation easily leaves room for a sequel, which has already been floated (Vikander herself has said she’d be honored to reprise it). Though that, of course, will depend on something far more unpredictable than any Death Queen: the fickle whims of the movie-going public.
In the course of all this, Lara will undergo all sort of Indiana Jones-esque challenges and ordeals, a borrowing so casual and widespread that it’s easy to forget that it is actually derivative. There is hardly a stone surface anywhere in the film that will not grindingly reveal a trapdoor, a recessed panel, or a large metal spike – and all with a certain mysterious engineering that provides for a considerable amount of movement without a power source, in the much-loved and time-honoured manner. And throughout Vikander maintains a kind of serene evenness of manner. Blandness is Lara’s theme.
It’s a shame to see the trend of poor game-to-movie adaptations continue with a character as great as Lara Croft. In this new Tomb Raider origin story, Lara’s singular drive to find her father falls flat because their relationship isn’t interesting, and that failure is compounded by a lackluster story and characters. The MMA-style fight scenes and her more adventurous action sequences do give Alicia Vikander a great chance to show off her physical prowess, but without a convincing motive, Lara comes across as shallow. A few interesting puzzles and death traps are too little, too late to save Tomb Raider from mediocrity.
Tomb Raider sets itself up neatly for a sequel. Part II needs to switch gears and hone in all the crowd-pleasing thrills that come with an A-level adventure franchise. Think Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Marvel movies. Jumanji. Otherwise, the film should stay buried.
The Hollywood Reporter
When all the one-dimensional supporting characters and familiar action moves fall by the wayside, the one thing left standing is Vikander. Slim and not tall, she doesn’t cut the figure of a muscled powerhouse, but here she fully embodies physical tenacity and grit, along with absolute determination not to give in or up. The film strains credulity even for a vid-game fantasy by letting the leading lady recover awfully quickly from bad injuries, but other than that Vikander commands attention and is the element here that makes Tomb Raider sort of watchable.
“Tomb Raider,” let’s be clear, is hokum: brisk but derivative, a compendium of jungle-chase pulp spun into something stylishly watchable. Yet when a movie like this one is made with a semblance of the human touch, and when it gives an actress as alive as Vikander a chance to carve out a true character instead of just inhabiting a series of stronger-than-life poses, you walk out feeling honestly entertained rather than jittery with overkill. It’s something that shouldn’t be so rare: escapism that breathes.
Tomb Raider stars Alicia Vikander (‘The Danish Girl’) as Lara Croft. Vikander will be joined by Daniel Wu (‘Warcraft’), Walton Goggins (‘Django Unchained’) and Dominic West (‘300’) as Lord Richard Croft. The film is directed by Roar Uthaug based on a script from Geneva Robertson-Dworet and will hit cinemas on March 16th 2018.