With the first run at a Tomb Raider Franchise resulting in the enjoyably ludicrous Angeline Jolie films, this 2018 reboot aims to ground Lara Croft in the real world; dark and gritty with a more progressive take on the iconic character. While this takes some inspiration from the more recent games, it, unfortunately, leaves the film feeling restrained with the moments of stupidity causing the audience to simply laugh at the film, not with it.
Opening on a young and broken Lara, still suffering from the disappearance of her father, the film acts as a prequel of sorts to the confident gun-toting protagonist we know and love. Her transformation is the focus of the film as her adventure and ordeals on the uninhabited Yamatai island allows her to close old books and start a new chapter raiding tombs and wielding dual pistols. While her arc is compelling enough to keep your attention it is strangely the films only real storyline with supporting characters and villains given very little screen time to develop; a big hindrance when we are expected to care about who lives and dies. The film is strongest when it embraces its ‘Indiana Jones’ style moments, solving puzzles and dealing with traps laid by ancient civilisations; it offers simply cheap thrills but they still remain the most exciting parts of the film. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to get to these and to the island in general; the pacing lags significantly in the first half as Lara puts off the inevitable quest to find her father and reclaim her inheritance. In contrast, the closing moments of the film feel bloated with forced exposition and unnecessary setup for a sequel which frankly seems unlikely to happen.
Visually the film also suffers from a general ugliness, bland colours and poor special effects make it extremely unappealing to look at though I can commend at least the stunt work and Vikander’s commitment to the physical demands of the role. She really is the saving grace of Tomb Raider; an incredible new star whose talents are above bland blockbusters like this yet at least her performance keeps the film watchable in its slower scenes.
By grounding Lara Croft in a mature, modern reboot, Tomb Raider may no longer be the ridiculous, campy blockbuster that was made to cater for Angelina Jolie’s cleavage but instead has become something much, much worse – boring.