Tomb Raider 2018 Movie Review

Tomb Raider, the movie version of the 2012 reboot of the video game of the same name, has hit theaters worldwide by this time. Clocking in at almost 2 hours in length and giving a lot of women yet another Wonder Woman type figure to look up to, does the movie succeed like the video game reboot or does it fail like so many other reboots do?

Tomb RaiderTitle: Tomb Raider
Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Bros. Pictures, GK Films & Square Enix
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by: Roar Uthaug
Produced by: Graham King
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu & Kristin Scott Thomas
Based on: Tomb Raider by Crystal Dynamics
Release dates: March 16, 2018 (United States) / March 15, 2018 (Australia)
Running time: 118 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (United States) / M15+ (Australia)

 

Following the disappearance of her father Richard, Lara Croft lives a reckless and carefree life. When she is arrested after a bike accident involving a police car, Richard’s business partner Ana Miller posts her bail and warns her that if she does not claim her inheritance, her father’s estate will be sold off. Lara reluctantly accepts and gains access to her father’s office. There she finds a pre-recorded message from Richard detailing his research into Himiko, the mythical Queen of Yamatai who was said to command the power over life and death. Richard warns Lara to destroy all of his research but Lara decides to investigate further.

Lara travels to Hong Kong where she bribes Lu Ren, captain of the ship Endurance, to sail to an island believed to have once been Yamatai. The ship capsizes in a violent storm and Lara is washed ashore where she is knocked unconscious. She is revived by Mathias Vogel, the leader of an expedition to locate Himiko’s tomb. The expedition has been funded by a shadowy organisation called Trinity that seeks to harness and weaponise Himiko’s power. Vogel takes Lara prisoner, claiming that he killed her father and intends to use Richard’s research to continue his expedition. Lara escapes with the help of Lu Ren, who also survived the storm and has been put to work with the local fishermen digging for Himiko’s tomb. She evades capture but is seriously wounded in the process and passes out from her injuries.

 

Lara regains consciousness after nightfall and is forced to kill a Trinity guard when she is nearly discovered. She follows a mysterious figure wandering the island and discovers that the figure is her father, who has himself been held captive on Yamatai. After convincing him that she is real, Richard treats her injuries and despite his protests, Lara sets off to recover his research from Vogel’s camp. Lara makes contact with Lu Ren and he, along with the fishermen, stage distractions, allowing Lara to infiltrate the Trinity camp and recover her father’s research. In the ensuing chaos, Richard makes his way to the tomb and is captured by Vogel, who persuades Lara to open Himiko’s tomb.

The party navigate a series of booby traps and locate Himiko’s sarcophagus. Two Trinity soldiers attempt to remove her corpse but become infected by Himiko’s “power”, which is actually a virus so potent that mere physical contact triggers immediate bodily disintegration. Vogel shoots the infected soldier, concluding that he cannot remove Himiko’s body; he instead settles for detaching a finger which he seals in a pouch. In the confusion, Lara and Richard overpower the remaining soldiers, though Vogel escapes and Richard becomes infected. Knowing there is no cure, he proposes destroying Himiko’s tomb to prevent the virus spreading across the world. Lara gives chase to Vogel as Richard sets off a bomb, killing himself and sealing the tomb. Lara confronts Vogel and the two fight and she force-feeds him Himiko’s finger before kicking him down a deep chasm just as the infection takes over. She is rescued by Lu Ren and the fishermen, who then commandeer a Trinity helicopter to escape Yamatai.

Lara returns to London, where she formally accepts her inheritance and inadvertently discovers that Trinity’s front company is actually owned by Croft Holdings. She proceeds to investigate Trinity further among her father’s files and begins to suspect that Ana Miller is one of their agents who manipulated her into accepting her inheritance in order to have Lara sign over control of Croft Holdings’ business operations to her when Richard stopped co-operating with Trinity. Having witnessed Trinity’s ruthlessness first-hand, she prepares for her next adventure to thwart their plans.

Tomb Raider

Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft
We all know Lara Croft by now, she’s the spunky badass raider of tombs all over the world… At least that’s what the character is meant to be. What we get in Tomb Raider is the whole “she’s a survivor, she has determination, she is strong, she is a modern badass feminist female! RAWR!!” thing that Hollywood has been bullied into showing in movies like this. Lara is shown more being this reckless girl who doesn’t care about anything but just happens to have everything mastered and nothing can stop her. I don’t know if it’s a very weak script or Vikander’s very wooden and boring acting that brings all this about. I have no idea why Alicia Vikander has been getting so much praise online by other sites for her performance. She has no facial expression to show emotion, her dialogue is just generic and delivered with a “I don’t care” tone at all times, and she goes from looking like a 25 year old to 16 years old between shots. I really don’t get it. This performance made me miss Angelina Jolie.

Dominic West as Lord Richard Croft
Here we have the absent father plotline lifted directly from the 2001 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie. In the beginning of Tomb Raider, he appears in flashbacks giving hints and foreshadowing for Lara to follow later in the movie. However he does return later in the film as a disheveled and dirty lost island man, who instantly through movie magic snaps out of 7 years of isolation and helps his daughter for most of the third act before sacrificing himself in the finale. West does what he can with the very limited time he has on screen, but at the same time his whole performance feels just wasted and wasteful at the same time. In one hand, he does well with the role, but the role is not needed in the overall story.

Walton Goggins as Mathias Vogel
Evil white man! He has a connection to the Croft family, is the family rival, and a member of the Illumin… I mean “Trinity”, an organization that controls the world from the shadows. But let’s be honest here, Vogel is just generic evil white man villain. How do we know this? Because he has black slaves, asian slaves, and other minorities working for him. He doesn’t value life at all and all his main henchmen are white! Again, this feels somewhat lifted from the previous movie, but warped to meet today’s social standards. Goggins however, kills it with his performance. He takes everything into the role and makes sure that you are going to remember his character as someone worth remembering once the credits roll.

Daniel Wu as Lu Ren
I have no idea what was happening with this character. When we meet Lu Ren, he is a drunken sailor who’s father helped Lara’s father in the past before he was killed at the hands of Mathias Vogel, the main villain. What we were going to see was a revenge sub-plot, but as soon as Lara and Lu Ren get captured, then whole sub-plot disappears and Lu Ren becomes a secondary background character before disappearing all together in the third act. As for Daniel Wu, he does what he can with the role, but I think a lot of what would have made him memorable is left on the cutting room floor.

Nick Frost as Max
Oh look, someone with a name and is entertaining… Better put in him 2 small scenes. One in the early movie where he does nothing interesting or entertaining, and then again at the end of Tomb Raider, where again he does nothing entertaining but we get a reference to the video games… Ho ho ho! How cool is that kids? Nope… Hated this. From what little we saw in the trailers, I thought Max was going to be a comedic sidekick character or some sort of comedy relief, thus allowing Nick Frost to shine, but nothing happens with him or his character. A complete waste of talent.

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider does one thing right, and that’s it. Tomb Raider looks like the rebooted video game. Nothing else but the look of things works. Vikander looks like the modern Lara Croft. Lara is in the jungle shooting arrows and fighting men. And that’s it… I seriously have nothing else to add. I tried hard to like Tomb Raider, and so did my girlfriend, but by the end of the movie we were just waiting for the credits to roll so we could get out of the theater.

Tomb Raider

What Didn’t Work in Tomb Raider was everything. Vikander’s performance as Lara Croft is wooden and terrible, the other characters are either a waste of time or a waste of talent since they are just walking stereotypes most of the time. I’ve already outlined the characters and their issues in the section above, so I won’t go over it again here, but I’d like to talk about the plot… Oh wait, 90% of it was taken from a much more entertaining Tomb Raider movie, the 2001 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie. Even using something that actually worked Tomb Raider couldn’t create a working overall plot. When it comes to the action, everything seems to follow the same formula:

1. Lara is in danger
2. Lara uses her “grit and determination” to force through issue
3. Lara escapes situation by some bullshit luck sequence

There are so many logic holes in Tomb Raider that I think that the deceased Stephen Hawking (RIP my dude!) could study them easier than he did Black Hole Theory. Tomb Raider feels like half the movie was left on the cutting room floor. Whole scenes and plot points disappear suddenly, others just jump from one point to another with no logical reasoning, and at times I felt like I was watching some weird fan fiction movie rather than a multi-million dollar Hollywood action film.

Tomb Raider

At the end of it all, I can’t recommend Tomb Raider to anyone in any form. However I can understand why it exists, and that is because of Wonder Woman. The whole “Badass strong solo female film” thing is becoming all the rage in Hollywood thanks to the demasculation of the industry thanks to movements like #MeToo and #HeForShe. It’s leaving a whole series of films being made where men are locked into the “evil white man” trope while the women are badass solo fighters who know everything and can do anything (aka a Mary Sue). Tomb Raider views as very badly done fan fiction. Even my girlfriend, who enjoys these types of movies, was falling asleep alongside myself and by the end of Tomb Raider, we both were missing the Angelina Jolie versions. While those movies were bad, at least Lara looked like Lara and Angelina made the scenes look exciting, plus she had a sense of humour. This Tomb Raider is just soulless and dull.

Lacking something, just like the game reboot

Summary

Tomb Raider is terrible. It’s going to make you wish for more of the Angelina Jolie series of movies. This Tomb Raider is generic and dull, plus it steals 90% of it’s plot from the first Jolie film. It’s hard to understand why Vikander is getting so much praise as Lara Croft from such a wooden and boring performance. Everyone else in Tomb Raider is either a stereotype or a waste of space. I was falling asleep during this movie. Avoid Avoid Avoid.

Overall
1

About The Author

Karl Smart
Senior Editor / Reviewer

The main "Australian arm" of The Outerhaven. Karl primarily spends time playing and reviewing video games while taking time to occasionally review the latest movie or piece of gaming technology.