So, we just came home from the movie house to catch the last full show of Tomb Raider. My husband, Speedy, slept through most of it. Sam says it has too much “intro-y feels”; Alex thought the script was not as good as the script of the original film. Me? I thought it was too intense, there was too much adrenaline and, sad to say, too many gaps in the story.
That’s not saying it is that bad (well, for Speedy it was, obviously). It isn’t. Not really. But it’s a lot different from the original—which is not a bad thing, per se, because every reboot doesn’t want to be a mere replication of the original and most seek to be better than what it is remaking.
Note that I never played the video games. My daughters did but that’s irrelevant here. I am writing this from the perspective of a movie goer who tremendously enjoyed the 2001 film and who has just seem the 2018 reboot.
From the looks of it, there will be a sequel—sequels, even—and the 2018 film is more of an introduction. A backstory and origin. But it is a weak backstory and origin. Lord Richard Croft studied archeology at Oxford. He was already a tomb raider during Lara’s childhood. That Lara would grow up well versed in everything archeology, even if her father had been absent much of the time, was easy to understand.
In the 2018 film, Lord Richard Croft was primarily a businessman with diverse interests (the sign “Croft Holdings” on the lobby of his office building makes that clear). Although nothing implies a departure from the Richard-Croft-is-an-archeologist history, archeology did not seem to be his primary activity in the film. Only after the death of his wife did he start researching on resurrection and immortality.
Lara had never seen the documentation of her father’s research until after seven years from his disappearance. It makes one wonder how she could easily decipher the writings he left behind and, even more significantly, the images on the walls of the tomb that they desecrated toward the end of the story. If these gaps can be explained in a sequel, I’m looking forward to the explanation.
In a generation that’s screaming woman empowerment, it feels strange that in the reboot, everything that Lara Croft achieved, she achieved essentially as a result of wanting to find her father. Not that love for a parent is a sign of a weak female, but Lara Croft is Lara Croft because, on her own, she is an outstanding archeologist. And no one becomes an outstanding anything without having an intense passion for what one does. Passion for archeology is glaringly absent in Lara Croft’s persona in the 2018 film.
If the absence for such passion is because the timeline depicted in the 2018 film happened before she became THE Lara Croft, then, just a little explanation on how she could so easily analyze and interpret archeological jargon when she had been a delivery girl who never set foot in her father’s secret library before would ease my discomfort.
From a technical perspective, Tomb Raider has more plusses than minuses. The action sequences are well choreographed, the sets are stunning and the visual effects are magnificent. But in terms of editing, I found the pace too visually exhausting. The action is good but there has to be an occasional respite—hills, valleys, mountains and plateaus, so the speak. Tomb Raider is mostly hills and mountains, and there were moments when my eyes felt too tired that my focus waned and I found myself wishing that the film would be over soon.
But is the film worth watching? Overall, oh yes, if only to witness the splendid performance of Alicia Vikander. In terms of their portrayal of Lara Croft, Alicia Vikander is a much better actress than Angelina Jolie. Her Lara Croft is more realistic which gives the video game heroine a lot more human quality. When she is hurt, she grunts, she moans and her face shows the intensity of the pain she is feeling. When she tumbles, she gets dirt on her skin. Physical exertion makes her perspire. She’s human. But she’s not half as fun as Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft who could exhibit sarcastic humor, tease, flirt and be blatantly female.
Alicia Vikander’s Lara Croft is no lightweight who gets by on cuteness and sex appeal (which one may easily accuse Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft of). Vikander succeeds in turning a two-dimensional character into one that’s larger than life. No mean feat considering the not-so-good script and the not-too-clear storyline. So, yes, by all means. Go and experience Tomb Raider. It’s quite a ride.