“Tomb Raider” strikes gold

Released in the United States on March 16, 2018, “Tomb Raider” is directed by Roar Uthaug, and stars Alicia Vikander as its titular heroine. It’s the third film inspired by the classic video game franchise of the same name; famous for its action, puzzle solving and entertaining story. Despite the bitter history of most video game movies, the film proves to be an exciting and impressive romp, and a faithful adaptation which I am confident will make fans smile.

The film is directly based off of the 2013 reboot of the video game series, also titled “Tomb Raider,” which beyond the gameplay made its mark on the series by giving its story a more mature, serious edge and crafting an origin story for the revamped Lara Croft character. Both the game and the movie depict Croft as a young woman, forced to fight nature and human adversaries after being stranded on a mystical island off the coast of Japan; starting simply as a survivor, until ultimately becoming the bold heroic figure that she is famous for being. Being a fan of this game, I was rather impressed by the ways that the writers and director of this film captured what made the game’s narrative so beautiful.

The plot is not identical to the original’s, but it uses visual storytelling and impressive performances to effectively show Croft’s journey. Many elements carry over from the game’s story, including wounds she receives, important lines of dialogue that reflect her character and the changes she experiences throughout the story, certain trials and tribulations that she must overcome and even the terrible decisions she is forced to make which define her as a three-dimensional person. Vikander is given a great range of emotions to work with as she pulls off her dramatic moments, as well as her action-packed and comedic moments, with skill and a surprising level of realistic, touching subtlety.

There are problems with the film, but none that bother me. Its story doesn’t hold up to the story of the video game it’s based off of, but I wasn’t expecting it to–what’s impressive is that it holds up on its own. There are also plenty of plot holes, and the film has what I like to call a “physics issue.” Croft—and the other characters—survive an unbelievable amount of pain. Getting stabbed, falling down waterfalls, slamming into trees and more don’t seem to deter the tenacious heroine, and she pulls off stunts that aren’t possible under the laws of physics. But this doesn’t really matter to me. It doesn’t hurt the progression of the story in any way, and it’s really more of an issue with fiction than this movie in particular.

All in all, “Tomb Raider” is not a life-changing or perfect film, but it is a good action-thriller that should entertain fans of the series and general audiences. And while it isn’t quite as engaging or even thought-provoking as the 2013 game it takes influence from, it isn’t without heart of its own. It has a compelling protagonist, a well-paced and plotted story, impressive (albeit unrealistic) stunt work and effects and a sufficient amount of fun packed in it. It’s an adaptation that gets a recommendation from me at least–especially if you’re in the mood to kick back, relax and watch something fun that can turn your brain off.

Film: “Tomb Raider”
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu
Release: March 16, 2018
Rating: 4/5 stars