‘Tomb Raider’ review

Tomb Raider

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

Tomb Raider is in cinemas worldwide now!

Synopsis

Lara Croft is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished years earlier. Hoping to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance, Croft embarks on a perilous journey to his last-known destination — a fabled tomb on a mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan. The stakes couldn’t be higher as Lara must rely on her sharp mind, blind faith and stubborn spirit to venture into the unknown.

Review

I’ve been a fan of the Tomb Raider franchise from the very first game. I played the first handful of games on PC before switching with the series to Xbox later in life. I’ve played right up to date with Rise of the Tomb Raider.

This new reboot of the movie arm of the franchise had me intrigued from the beginning. How would the game which inspired it translate to film? Following a younger, greener Lara through the harrowing experience of being stranded on an island and forced to fight for her life could easily have made for torture porn on screen.

The result of Roar Uthaug’s efforts to bring the game to life is an interesting mix of proto-Indiana Jones and a direct adaption of the game itself. Screenwriter Geneve Robertson-Dworet has done a good joke of evoking the overall feeling of the game albeit with some narrative diversions to the source material.

Sadly some of these narrative diversions weaken the strength of Lara’s character. It seems there was a difficulty in balancing the homage to the video game with crafting a narrative worthy of a Hollywood movie. Unfortunately a more palatable narrative comes at the cost of its characters.

I’m talking specifically about the plot surrounding Lara’s relationship with her father and how this plays out particularly through the films third act. Though it makes sense to the story it does feel like one compromise too many for the franchise main character.

Speaking of Miss Croft, Alicia Vikander is perfect for this contemporary version of the character. She embodies the 2013 version of Lara Croft with ease. At times it was difficult to remember I was watching a film and not cut scenes from the game itself.

The voice is near perfect and her characterisation is a little more comedic for the sake of the films tone. Most importantly she is able to portray the action with a level of conviction which helps ground a story of this nature in reality.

The prerequisite screams and she drops off cliffs or over the edge of waterfalls is befitting of the video game hero.

Dominic West comes off a little overly posh as Richard Croft. This is possibly the biggest role we’ve seen for Lord Croft in any version of the franchise. Their relationship comes off as fractured but with enough heart to keep it believable even in the more fantastical moments.

Walton Goggins gives the scenery a good chewing as Vogel. For the films villain he’s surprisingly short on screen time. At times his motivations are a little thin. For instance: why was he on the island in the first place? As an audience we have a vague idea what Trinity wants but not before we’ve travelled across the globe to find it.

Supporting cast members Daniel Wu and Kristin Scott Thomas are the only others given much development. Their roles do help to flesh out this new Tomb Raider world but at the same time they feel a little two dimensional. Whilst Wu fills in for the group of friends Lara heads to Yamatai with in the game he too suffers from a lack of screen time. Scott Thomas will clearly be an important player in the expected sequel so hopefully the writers have in mind a lot more for her character down the line.

Amazingly this is not a CGI heavy movie. Scenes of the Endurance ship crashing on to the rocks of Yamatai are overly dark, possibly to hide some bad imagery. What we do see was perfectly convincing to me. My heart was in my throat watching Lara leap from the boat before it was ripped to shreds by the waves.

Aside from this CGI is mainly used to augment the scenery to add to the films aesthetic. The traps in the caves of Yamatai are suitably ripped form the video games. Likewise the underground temple is impressive whilst another slightly under-lit moment in the film.

The action scenes are well choreographed and equally well executed. There’s not as much action as I would have hoped so would like to see more in the sequel. What we do get is enough to whet the appetite. Moments like Lara’s first kill evoke the same feelings are playing the games which helped me empathise with Vikander as Lara.

The score is provided by Junkie XL. Here he is truly channelling his mentor Hans Zimmer and it definitely works in the films favour. The music lifts ever-so-slightly above the doldrums of random Hollywood blockbuster to create something a little more interesting. It’s never strays too far in to the electronic and doesn’t rely on heavy beats to punctuate the action.

There’s no definite themes here though. Also don’t expect the classic Lara Croft theme from the first games to make an appearance.

Verdict

Tomb Raider is a perfectly enjoyable piece of escapism. It’s not going to win any Oscars but it’s a well acted, well made adventure piece. It could have been more exciting and it could have been ground breaking. But it could also have been awful. There’s not wrong with just simply being okay.

6/10

Checkout our YouTube playlist for Tomb Raider below! (AppleNew users click the link)

About Neil Vagg 1566 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG