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Movie Review: “Tomb Raider”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Tomb Raider

Theatrical Release: 3/16/2018

Theatrical Release: 3/16/2018

Synopsis

Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) idolized her father as a child. He was immensely successful and owned his own company, Croft Holdings. He traveled a lot, but one day, he never came back. Several years have passed, and Lara had not given up hope until now. She feels like she can finally accept that her father has died, and in his unlikely demise, Richard Croft (Dominic West) left his company to his daughter. However, as she was signing the contract that would make her the owner of Croft Holdings, Lara receives a mysterious clue that could lead to answers about what happened to her father.

She quickly discovers that her father was much more than the CEO of a multi-million dollar company. He searched the globe for ancient tombs and sacred artifacts, and he disappeared after traveling to an island where he searched for an especially important tomb. He was searching for the tomb of Himiko, a mythical queen who was said to have been able to control death and could kill people by simply touching them. Her tomb is located on an island in the middle of the Devil’s Sea, and while it would not be an easy journey, Lara is determined to find her father. She travels to the island, but instead of finding her father, she finds Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) who is leading a covert operation to find Himiko’s tomb and unleash her power upon the world. He has been unable to locate the tomb for many years, but he thinks that Richard Croft's daughter may be the key to locating the tomb.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Lara Croft (+6pts)

Richard Croft (-4pts)

The Island & The Tomb (+6pts)

Trinity (-4pts)

Mathias Vogel (+4pts)

Generic (-5pts)

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Pro: Lara Croft (+6pts)

Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft was easily one of this movie’s biggest strengths. Alicia Vikander is a great actress, one that any franchise would be lucky to hire, and she clearly got into great shape for the role. This character went through some pretty intense physical trauma and adversity, but I had no problem believing that she was able to get through it. While this role was not the most dramatically demanding, Alicia Vikander gave Lara Croft the depth to make her intriguing anyway. I could feel the character’s pain—both physically and emotionally—which is a credit to this great actress, as I do not think the writers gave her a whole lot to sink her teeth into.

Before watching the movie, I was nervous that Lara Croft would not be believable. How could a normal, everyday person, be physically prepared for what she would inevitably have to go through on the island? Fortunately, I thought Lara Croft was awesome. She practiced kickboxing, archery, and extreme bicycling, all as hobbies to distract herself from the loss of her father. This, mixed with Alicia Vikander’s physique and Lara Croft’s natural desperation, made the character a force to be reckoned with. I liked how stubborn this character was, I liked how determined she was to find her father when everyone else assumed he was dead, and I liked how desperate she was to find her place in the world. This was an interesting character with cool skills and I would definitely like to see the character explored again.

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Con: Richard Croft (-4pts)

I was pretty torn when it came to this character, because I liked what he meant for Lara’s story, but I thought that this character was developed poorly. He was a very important character in Lara’s life, and his presence was necessary as he greatly impacted Lara’s story. I liked what this character meant for her. Lara has gone so long without the slightest clue to Richard’s fate, but now she had a clue and it gave her a lot of drive.

This was cool to see, but Richard himself was portrayed as a scared and delusional man. After his wife died, he became driven toward finding paranormal artifacts and tombs, with the intent of finding a hint of the afterlife. He then became scared and panicked that Trinity would unleash Himiko from her tomb. Lara idolized her father, but once she learned more about who he was, she saw her idol in a disappointing light. I liked this element of Lara’s story, but I thought the two different versions of Richard—the version Lara remembered and the version we saw—were too different, and the second version of the character was even somewhat annoying.

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Pro: The Island & The Tomb (+6pts)

This movie took a bit longer to get to the island than I would have liked, but it was worth the wait. It was as dangerous as any uncharted island, but it was made even more dangerous for Lara through Trinity’s presence. Trinity was well aware of her father, so Mathias Vogel sent his men after Lara in the hopes that she would do for him what her father would not. This was what made the island so brutal. Lara had to run from Mathias and his men, and she did not have much time to be cautious. This was still an uncharted island, so it was not exactly the safest terrain to run around aimlessly on foot. The result was Lara winding up in a number of dangerous and precarious situations.

I was worried that this movie would be mostly set on the island after the success of the video games, and that there would not be enough tomb raiding, but I thought the filmmakers did a decent job with balancing these two things. The island was great, but the main objective on the island was finding the tomb, which made the tomb feel important. Then we got into the tomb, and it was filled with all the mystery, and the exciting boobytraps and puzzles that fans will be hoping for. The tomb was used sparingly enough that you never have time to get bored while the characters are in there, but it was not used so sparingly that fans of the franchise will think that the filmmakers lost sight of one of the franchise's key elements.

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Con: Trinity (-4pts)

This was probably the intent, but I thought Trinity was a little to generic for me. They were bad for the sake of being bad, and other than Mathias Vogel, they were made up of nameless, faceless mercenaries who seemed to have skipped every day of target practice. As an audience, we knew that Lara was in quite a bit of danger, but the uselessness of the henchmen made it feel like this whole situation was nothing that Lara could not handle, and this removed quite a bit of the story's suspense. Then there were the vague, generic goals of Trinity.

Himiko was a mythical queen that could kill people with the touch of a finger. Trinity wanted into the tomb for nothing good. They either wanted to unleash Himiko or use an ancient artifact as a mass weapon, for vague, unexplained evil reasons. Trinity was bad without reason, which just made them boring.

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Pro: Mathias Vogel (+4pts)

Mathias Vogel was the only exception in a movie filled with generic and uninteresting antagonists. Mathias was bad, sure, but he had his reasons. Trinity had tasked him with finding Himiko’s tomb, and because of Richard Croft, he had been unable to do so for the past seven years. Mathias had been stuck leading a never-ending mission for all this time and now that Lara had stumbled onto the island, Mathias’ desperation was at an all time high.

Walton Goggins played this desperation well. He worked for Trinity so he was a bad man, but I had a real sense for how irritated he was to have been stuck in the position he was stuck in, and I felt how far he would be willing to go in order to finally be able to leave the island. This character was bad, he was desperate, and he had a bit of a grudge against the name Croft. This was a dangerous combination and Walton Goggins brought all of that complexity to the role.

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Con: Generic (-5pts)

I liked Tomb Raider, but I thought it was a bit too typical. It had a very average plot that felt like it was following a formula for the first movie of an action franchise. It gave a generic origin story to an iconic heroine and the whole plot felt like something I have seen many times before. It had generic side characters, generic comedic reliefs, generic antagonists, and generic teases to future sequels. It did everything a first movie “should” do, meaning that it did what so many movies have already done, but its plot and character development failed to give us anything special.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C+ (78pts)

I liked the character of Lara Croft and I liked Alicia Vikander in the role, as she did a good job of conveying this character’s pain and determination. Lara Croft was tough, she was determined, and she had nothing to lose. She was easy to get behind as the primary protagonist of this story, and I enjoyed seeing her exploring this island and the secret tomb located on it. The island proved to be a brutal, unforgiving environment, and the tomb seemed to be actively trying to kill everyone who journeyed inside it.

The movie’s problems all seemed to stem from it being too generic. Tomb Raider did everything you would expect from the kickoff movie of a new action franchise. We got the generic origin story where the main character uncovered a secret that would change their entire life. Then we got an organization of nameless, faceless bad guys who were bad for no the sake of being bad. Mathias Vogel was the only exception to this rule, as he was an interesting villain that I enjoyed watching. Tomb Raider had some cool moments and it had a couple of interesting characters, but I ultimately thought it was a very average movie.

Comments

Hammad112 on April 11, 2018:

I love tomb Rider film and actors if I have a change in film then I agree on it