Kyle J. Steenblik

Tomb Raider is Fun Fantasy Action [Review]

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Tomb Raider
Directed by: Roar Uthaug
Screenplay by: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons
Story by: Evan Daugherty, Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Based on Tomb Raider by Crystal Dynamics, Square Enix video games
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas
Production companies: GK Films, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Square Enix, Warner Bros.
Release date March 16, 2018
Running time 118 minutes
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some language
3 stars out of 5
Lara Croft is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished when she was scarcely a teen. Now a young woman of 21 without any real focus or purpose, Lara navigates the chaotic streets of trendy East London as a bike courier, barely making the rent, and takes college courses, rarely making it to class. Determined to forge her own path, she refuses to take the reins of her father’s global empire just as staunchly as she rejects the idea that he’s truly gone. Advised to face the facts and move forward after seven years without him, even Lara can’t understand what drives her to finally solve the puzzle of his mysterious death. Going explicitly against his final wishes, she leaves everything she knows behind in search of her dad’s last-known destination: a fabled tomb on a mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan. But her mission will not be an easy one; just reaching the island will be extremely treacherous. Suddenly, the stakes couldn’t be higher for Lara, who-against the odds and armed with only her sharp mind, blind faith and inherently stubborn spirit-must learn to push herself beyond her limits as she journeys into the unknown. If she survives this perilous adventure, it could be the making of her, earning her the name tomb raider.
—Warner Bros. Pictures

This iteration of Tomb Raider may be the most successful film based upon a video game to capture the critical elements that make a game successful.  While at the same time it also suffers from one of the most damning problems any film based upon a video game will face.  The story, and the actions of the primary character that allow that story to unfold.  This problem is evident to anyone familiar with how a modern video game narrative unfolds in response to the actions of an individual player, given that a film does not have an autonomous individual player the translation from one medium to another will never be fully successful unless the roots of the game are abandoned for a completely unique story.  That said I do feel Tomb Raider is a good film, while it was serious it never took itself so seriously that it felt over-inflated, but it took itself seriously enough to stay away from becoming campy.  I had the distinct impression that when it was silly, it was entirely intentional, as a bit of a wink and a nod to the audience that this was really just a bit of fun entertainment.

As a bit of fun entertainment, I enjoyed myself, although not too enthusiastically.  It is not that I found any of the performances lacking, in fact the performances were all quite good and enjoyable.  Even the scripted dialogue was solid and respectable.  What kept me checking my watch was the plot, it was a little too contrived, but like I said before it felt intentionally contrived, and that is because it was being faithful to the original material.  Fortunately, I don’t need everything to be Ulysses to have a good time and find something to enjoy.

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