This weekend, Kristen and I had a chance to see a number of films. We went to the drive in theater and saw Incredibles 2 and Rampage, but the movie that I wanted to write about first is fairly recently released out of theaters (what do you call it now, released on video, DVD?) with the Alicia Vikander led Tomb Raider. We watched it on the home big screen, which is great, because it always has a bit of a movie quality to it because of that anyways.
A quick summary of the movie. Lara Croft is living a fairly simple life. She comes from a rich family, but can’t access the money completely because her father has gone missing, and is assumed dead, but she hasn’t signed the paperwork for it. Instead she’s barely scraping by with a bike courier job. Things change when she runs into trouble with the police on a biking game. She goes to complete the paperwork and finds that her father has left her a puzzle box which soon leads her to finding out what her father was really up to. That launches her into her first adventure to figure out if her father is really alive or not. Then action and adventure ensue.
My initial thoughts are that the movie is quite enjoyable. There are some near shot for shot scenes from the game, which is a fun nod to the people who have played the reboot of Tomb Raider. The reboot changes it from pixels with boobs and guns into a more realistic character who struggles and is still able to kick some ass. That turns it into a movie that can have a coherent plot, for the most part, and while you still get the action, she is now more of sympathetic character.
Along with more of a plot and a better plot than the original Tomb Raider movies, this movie also carries with it a lot better acting. Alicia Vikander does a very good job in the role of Lara Croft. I know there was some talk that she didn’t look enough Lara Croft like, but she matches up nicely to the video game reboot rendering of Lara Croft. We also get nice performances surrounding her role. Seeing Nick Frost in there as a cameo was a ton of fun, and a great role for him. Dominic West and Walton Goggins do a nice job in their roles as well as Lara’s father, whom we see a lot in flashbacks, and the villain of this movie. Daniel Wu in some ways steals the show in his scenes. He’s a very sympathetic character throughout the film. I don’t know that I’d really knock any performances in the movie as even those who maybe didn’t have as much screen time or weren’t as good actors, they didn’t detract from the film as often happens in action films.
Finally, I want to talk about the production quality of this film. As compared to another bigger budget action film in Rampage, which I may review later, Tomb Raider has very high production standards. The aesthetic throughout the whole thing is well done. It also doesn’t have any of the goofy moments where you look at the scene and just blatantly tell that something was green screened in there. I’ve noticed with too many decently budgeted movies as of late that we’re seeing that happen, and it’s something that shouldn’t be happening in a film. So I’m grateful that Tomb Raider doesn’t do that. I also appreciate that it kept the aesthetic very close to the games aesthetic. As I said, there were some scenes in the movie that reminded me so much of scenes in the game, and while that made bits of it predictable for me, it didn’t hurt the enjoyment of watching the movie for me.
In closing, Tomb Raider is an enjoyable film. Is it a masterpiece of modern cinema, certainly not. But it’s a fun movie that deserves a sequel in my opinion and compared to the original Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider movies, it is a masterpiece. This movie won’t be for everyone, but someone looking for a good female led action flick, this movie hits that nail on the head. And, I think, one of the strengths of the film, is that it treats it just as an action film and doesn’t make a big deal about that it is female lead, so the movie stands on its own as a movie.
Overall Grade: C+
Critical Grade: C
Casual Grade: B