The widely popular video game franchise “Tomb Raider” was transformed into a feature film on March 16. The film featured Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, Daniel Wu as Lu Ren, Dominic West as Lord Richard Croft, and Walton Goggins as Mathias Vogel.
“Tomb Raider” tells the story of Lara Croft, a young, adventurous woman who takes a journey to an uninhabited island to discover the mystery behind her father’s seven-year disappearance. She takes Lu Ren as a guide and travels to the mysterious island where she fights against greedy grave digger Mathias Vogel to protect the world from a curse.
Structurally, the film felt a lot like a Marvel movie, without the franchise attachment. It was action packed and entertaining with very endearing and comedic moments interspersed throughout. There wasn’t much substance to the film, but there didn’t need to be. Much like the Indiana Jones movies, “Tomb Raider” was meant to be a mindless two hours of fun.
For a video game adaptation, “Tomb Raider” is shockingly entertaining. After major flops like “Warcraft” in 2016, video game fans were not expecting much from this film, but “Tomb Raider” received 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, a high score for a video game movie. The biggest issue with video game movies is that the films take player’s choice away from the franchise, but “Tomb Raider” fills the gap by perfectly recreating the tone and feeling the game provided players. Alicia Vikander leaps large gaps, swings from wires and tumbles from great heights, much like in the games.
However, when compared to the games, the movie does have several other significant differences. It mostly follows the storyline of the 2013 “Tomb Raider.” In the game, Trinity, the order of people searching for artifacts in order to control them, is not a business like it is in the movie. The game also describes the Crofts (specifically Richard Croft) as not being business persons while they are portrayed as such in the film. The film also eliminates the element of magic. The artifacts Croft searches for aren’t actually cursed and so don’t have magical properties. Instead, they are grounded in reality. The film includes Richard Croft as a character and is a significant part of the plot, yet he is only mentioned briefly in the games.
Lara Croft’s character was super refreshing to see. She’s a fiercely independent, skilled and intelligent woman who is still human and emotional at her core. Several times in the film, Lara is in seemingly inescapable trouble and viewers continuously expect someone to save her, only for her to get out of each desperate situation completely on her own. Lara isn’t sexualized like many other women heroes in Hollywood, and there isn’t a forced romance in the film that detracts from Lara’s strength as a independent hero. As if this wasn’t enough, her physical strength is still not her only redeeming quality. The film uses her relationship with her father to give Lara a softer side which balances out her superhero-like qualities.
One big misstep in “Tomb Raider” was replacing the small group of Lara’s allies from the video games with one character, Lu Ren. His character is added to give Lara a sidekick, but his personality and relationship to Lara is underdeveloped and confusing. He is introduced as an angry drunkard who isn’t fond of Lara’s natural charm, but, once Lara bribes him into helping her, he suddenly becomes her best friend and would die for her. In the entirety the film, he is the least important of the characters and could have easily been written out. The one good thing about Lu’s character is that he allows Lara to be the main character. Since he is rarely in the film, he has no opportunity to overshadow the heroine. Even in the scenes where they are together, Lara continues to feel like the sole main character.
Although “Tomb Raider” is definitely not the next Academy Award Best Picture, it’s an easy and entertaining film to watch. Lara Croft is this generation’s Indiana Jones: witty, cunning and amazingly skilled. Whether or not you’re a fan of the video games, “Tomb Raider” is worth a trip to the theaters, even for just a bit of mindless fun.