Just when you thought Assassin’s Creed suffocated any remaining chance of a good video game movie, Tomb Raider comes along to rectify that. Well, mostly. Gone is the focus on Lara’s bust from the 90’s and more on her enduring hardships like the 2013 reboot. This also has the advantage/disadvantage going up against the 2001 Angelina Jolie version, which garnered a warmer audience reception to the point of escaping most lists of worst video game movies. So what new things does this have to offer?
How about a well casted, Alicia Vikander as Lara for one. Her training to get the look and feel of the character down really pays off whether on a bike, running in the jungle or pulling off the impossible physics. And then there’s the video game references that never feels like you’re waiting for your friend to hand over the controller, although a lot of cronies in here seem to have graduated from the Storm-Trooper school of battle training. But the action in and out of the tomb is intense on land and sea thanks in part to faith in locations that mask the sets and not an over reliance on the computer. But with that comes the “always popular” video game movie cliffhangers. It happend in Super Mario Brothers, Street Fighter and even TV shows like Sonic SATAM. Can we not get this old cliché turned new when the Dark Universe already failed to launch? Stand alone entries can be as important without sequel bait, especially for this sub genre that’s only now starting to make money. And as grounded as this incarnation is, the familiar origin story really bogs down the pacing, even when solving puzzles on a disappearing floor. I don’t know if it’s the writing that barely gives Dominic West and Vikander little time for connecting or because that it doesn’t go more out of the box. Even the villain looks really bored throughout the adventure even with his three-dimensional background, but this has the opposite Warcraft effect in never getting in full motion because of the origin story checklist. Of course for a sub-genre like this, characters will be simplified to a fault, but as long as they have some charm like Daniel Wu as the sea captain, they’re more than welcome on the adventure.
This Tomb Raider is what it is: a small diamond in the rough on its own. But that’s only because I’ve encompassed all of Lara’s legacy and therefore can’t speak for the general public. I will say don’t judge video games based on their movie counter parts, less you miss out on the better alternative. It’s not flawless and the Angelina Jolie edition is the better adaptation for pulling no punches in the action and character banter before the action genre was changed forever by real world tragedy. But to this ones credit, a lot more questions answered, it does try to connect the characters more (tries to) and the grounded realism is as fresh a take as it was back in 2013. It’s no Castlevania, but for all its faults it starts off this year’s video game movie countdown better than 2016.
Pros: Alicia Vikander, unintentional comedy, faithful game moments, solid action,
Cons: basic origin story, video game movie cliffhanger, slow, bored villain
Meanwhile in the city…..