Tomb Raider (2018) Review

In this reboot of Tomb Raider movie, Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) discovers the truth about her missing adventurer-father (Dominic West), in which she ends up on the island with the help of a Hong Kong sailor named Lu Ren (Daniel Wu).

Over the last decades, many fans from the original 1990s Tomb Raider video-game series have forever associated Lara Croft as a sex symbol, complete with her signature tank top and short shorts. Her legacy continues with the big-screen adaptation of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001. Despite poor reviews, the movie went on to become a box-office hit and made Angelina Jolie an instant sex icon for successfully portraying the live-action title role. Then came the 2003 sequel, which again featuring Jolie in the title role but the movie itself failed miserably, albeit the fact it still managed to make a decent amount of money.

Fast forward to 2018, the brand new Tomb Raider reboot is a far cry from the sexed-up Angelina Jolie’s version where most of us have grown accustomed to. Instead, the reboot is inspired by the 2013 video game of the same name, itself a reboot that re-introduced Lara Croft as a more grounded character. This is where Alicia Vikander excels in her role as Lara Croft. She surprises me a lot with her physically-demanding performance, given the fact she’s barely known as an action star. But above all, she sells her character well because the way she injects emotional vulnerability to make Lara Croft a relatable human being. Like the video game reboot, Vikander’s Lara Croft is depicted more of an origin story and how she’s being developed as a young and reckless person who is still rough around the edges. I know most people would prefer Jolie’s version over Alicia Vikander’s toned-down reincarnation of Lara Craft. After all, sex always sells, right? Which is too bad, because Vikander really nails the role and deserves a praise for not making Lara Croft a mere live-action avatar.

While Vikander steals the role in this movie, the supporting actors are equally adequate in their respective roles. Daniel Wu made the most of his screen time playing the charismatic Lu Ren, while Dominic West delivers a decent support as Lord Richard Croft. Walton Goggins, who is no stranger to playing villain roles in the past, is perfectly typecast as the movie’s main antagonist, Mathias Vogel. Nick Frost, in the meantime, shows up in a brief but effective comic relief as the pawn shop owner, Max.

Norwegian director Roar Uthaug, best known for his movies in Cold Prey and The Wave, does a serviceable job directing his big-budget Hollywood debut. The pacing may have been uneven in some parts but he still manages to inject a few worthwhile excitements over the course of its 2-hour running time. That includes an elaborate set-piece involving a waterfall and a plane wreckage, which made quite an impression emulating the feel of the video game reboot.

But the story itself is largely a mixed result. Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons’ screenplay started well enough, taking their time to establish Lara Croft as a character before she learns the truth about her father’s mysterious disappearance. However, once she is set for a daring adventure to track down her father’s whereabouts, the rest of the scenes that takes place entirely on the island feels like a second-rate Indiana Jones movie. It lacks a certain sense of adventure and mystery, even though the movie does contain puzzle-solving scenes and overcoming booby traps. The CGI, in the meantime, tends to be inconsistent in some scenes.

Despite its few shortcomings, this Tomb Raider reboot remains decent enough for a movie based on the video game. But most importantly, Roar Uthaug’s version is a vast improvement over the two previous Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movies directed respectively by Simon West and Jan De Bont.

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