Movie Review: “Tomb Raider”
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) idolized her father as a child. He was immensely successful and owned Croft Holdings. He traveled a lot, but one day, he never came back. Several years had passed, and Lara had not given up hope. In his unlikely demise, Richard Croft (Dominic West) left his company to his daughter. Once Lara was old enough she decided to sign the papers that would make her the owner of her father‘s company. As she was signing the contract, Lara receives a mysterious clue that could give her 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 when he traveled 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 travel to this island to find her father. 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.
The Pros & Cons
Lara Croft (+6pts)
Richard Croft (-4pts)
The Island & The Tomb (+6pts)
Mathias Vogel (+4pts)
Pro: Lara Croft (+6pts)
Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft was easily one of this movie’s biggest strengths. Alicia Vikander is a great actress that any film franchise would benefit from and she got into incredible shape for the role. This character goes 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, she played this character in a very natural and believable way. I could feel the character’s pain (both physically and emotionally), which is a credit to this great actress.
I was nervous, going into this movie, that Lara Croft would not be believable. How could a normal, everyday person, be physically prepared for what she would inevitably go through on the island? Fortunately, Lara Croft was awesome! She practices kickboxing, archery, and extreme bicycling. This, mixed with Alicia Vikander’s physique and Lara Croft’s natural desperation, made her a force to be reckoned with. I liked how stubborn this character was, how determined she was to find her father when everyone else assumed him to be dead, and how desperate she was to find her place in the world. This was a great character with cool skills and interesting depth that I would definitely like to see explored again.
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 impacts Lara’s life greatly. I liked what this character meant for her. Is he alive or is he dead? Lara has gone so long without the slightest clue to Richard’s fate, but now she has a clue and it has given her incredible drive.
This was cool to see but Richard, himself, was portrayed as a scared and delusional man. After his wife died, he became driven towards finding paranormal artifacts and tombs with the intent of finding a hint to the afterlife. He then becomes scared and panicked that Trinity will 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 Richard was too much of a disappointment, to the point where it made the character somewhat annoying.
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’s as dangerous as any island (aside from the tomb) but it is made more dangerous for Lara through Trinity’s presence. Trinity was well aware of her father, as he new the secret of the location of Himiko’s tomb as well as how to get inside. As a result of this, Mathias Vogel sends his men after Lara in the hopes that she would do for him what her father would not. This is what made the island so brutal. As Lara is running from Mathias and his men, she does not have much room for caution. Nonetheless this is an uncharted island so it is not exactly the safest terrain to run away on foot.
Lara has some brutal falls, we get some cool stunts, and we get all of that with an awesome set. 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. Fortunately, we get just enough of the tomb in this movie. It feels relevant, has some awesome boobytraps and puzzles, and we are in there just long enough for it to leave an impact on the story without disappointing audiences. The tomb was awesome and we see plenty of it, we just get the island as icing on the cake.
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 mercenary-type figures who seemed to have skipped every day of target practice. Himiko is a mythical queen that could kill people with the touch of a finger. Trinity wants into the tomb for nothing good. They either want to unleash Himiko or use an ancient artifact as a mass weapon (for who knows what reason).
Trinity is bad without reason which just makes them boring. The henchmen are nothing special either. They are as generic and as incapable as the most stereotypical action movie. As an audience, we know that Lara is in quite a bit of danger, but the uselessness of the henchmen make it feel like this whole situation is nothing that Lara cannot handle. This removes quite a bit of the movie’s suspense.
Pro: Mathias Vogel (+4pts)
Mathias Vogel was the only exception in a movie filled with generic and uninteresting antagonists. Mathias is bad, sure, but he has his reasons. Trinity has tasked him with finding Himiko’s tomb and, because of Richard Croft, he has been unable to do so for the past seven years. Mathias has been stuck leading a never-ending mission for all this time and now that Lara has stumbled onto the island, Mathias’ desperation is at an all time high.
Walton Goggins played this desperation well. He works for Trinity so he is a bad man but I had a real sense for how irritated he was to have been stuck in this position and how far he would go to finally be able to leave the island. This character is bad, he is desperate, and he has a bit of a grudge against the name Croft. This is a dangerous combination and Walton Goggins was captivating in the role.
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 a 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”, meaning that it did what so many movies have done, but its plot and character development failed to give us anything special.
Grade: C+ (78pts)
I liked the character of Lara Croft and I liked Alicia Vikander in the role. Alicia Vikander got into incredible shape for this role, and she did a good job of conveying this character’s pain and determination. Lara Croft is tough, she is determined, and she has nothing to lose. She was easy to get behind as a movie going audience. The island and the tomb were both very cool locations. The island proved to be a brutal, unforgiving environment and the tomb seemed to actively be trying to kill everyone inside. Lara Croft was entertaining enough and the locations were a lot of fun.
The movie’s problems all seem 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 uncovers a secret that will change their entire life. Then we get an organization of nameless, faceless bad guys who are bad for no apparent reason. Mathias Vogel was the only exception to this rule. He was an interesting villain that I enjoyed watching. Tomb Raider had some cool moments and a couple of interesting characters but I, ultimately, thought it was a very average movie.