Roar Uthaug’s Tomb Raider is a great homage that both fans and regular movie-goers will enjoy.
Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft was superhuman, trigger-happy and well, voluptuous. The movies weren’t great, but at least they stayed true to the older games where the titular character was concerned. Alicia Vikander’s Lara Croft, however, is based off the 2013 Tomb Raider game, which is considerably different from its predecessors. This time they’ve done a little more than staying true to the game character. They’ve made a great movie that’ll captivate both fans of the franchise, and regular movie-goers.
Roar Uthaug’s Tomb Raider finds Lara Croft as a fiercely independent but struggling bike courier who’s been on the streets since her father went missing years ago. Lord Richard Croft had left his young daughter in search of the tomb of a powerful sorceress to prevent her powers from falling into the wrong hands. After years of searching for him, the authorities had given up, but Lara refuses to accept his fate. Just as she’s about to sign a document that legally acknowledges his death, she receives a puzzle with a clue in it from him. She then discovers his secret office and learns about his final mission. Going against his explicit orders, Lara sets out to uncover the mystery behind his disappearance, and ends up on and island straddling myth and reality. Amidst numerous firefights, gravity defying leaps, and life-threatening injuries, the she learns what it means to be a Croft.
Warning! Spoilers ahead.
As a fan of the game, I absolutely loved that there were so many Easter eggs planted in the film. Every time I saw one, I turned to my partner and whispered “That was in the game too!”. From swinging on hooks, to stealthily creeping about camps, and even escaping a rust bucket of a Japanese WWII plane, fans of the game will feel like major parts of this movie feel like extended cuts of the 2013 Tomb Raider.
It wasn’t just all about Easter eggs though. Alicia Vikander’s Lara Croft was just as vulnerable, scrappy and inexperienced as the game’s character at the start of game play. When she ends up choking and killing a baddie, you physically feel her fear and remorse, but then she hardens up because she knows she’s going to need it if she’s going to make it off the island alive.
Another thing I noticed that was very similar to the game was how lonely Lara was during a lot of the narrative. In the game you’re exploring the mysterious island of Yamatai on your own, occasionally receiving some assistance from an NPC (non-playable character). The movie is pretty similar too. For extended periods of the movie, Lara was left to fend for herself, but she did have a little help from Lu Ren (played by Daniel Wu) from time to time.
Towards the end of the movie, it’s evident that Lara has become a more hardened adventurer, and as I sit there watching, I can’t help but ignore the fact that she had basically “leveled up”.
Of Plot Lines and Action
Like I mentioned before, the film is enjoyable even if you’ve never played a Tomb Raider game in your life or caught the Angelina Jolie iterations. The plot is uncomplicated, with a very interesting twist at the end of it. I feel like they could’ve played on the mysticism a little more, considering the plot is centered on a powerful sorceress buried alive on a mysterious island, but that’s just my opinion. The action in the movie is also well-choreographed. Unlike the older movies it isn’t just a flurry of bullets, somersaults, and more bullets. There’s unarmed combat where Lara shows off some impeccable MMA moves, some heart-stopping leaps, and of course some bullets.
The thing that disappointed me about the film was Daniel Wu’s character. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that there was some Asian representation in the film, especially since it supposedly took place on a Japanese island. But why did the character have to be of Hong Kong decent instead of Japanese? It seems like a loose bid to appeal to the Hong Kong and Chinese market at large. Furthermore, Wu’s character did not have much of a development, which I found more disappointing than the aforementioned economical ploy.
In any case, apart from this issue, I found the film thoroughly entertaining, and recommend that you catch it too. I’m glad that the writers were faithful to the game, but also did their level best to make it an all-round great film. It’s the perfect time to watch it too, it being International Women’s Day and all.