By Zachary Wright
“Tomb Raider” pierced its way into theatres two weeks ago – revitalizing a once dead movie franchise. Alicia Vikander takes on the role of Lara Croft, the brave heroin armed with a bow and arrow and survival instinct, who is on a quest to complete her father’s work and discover what has happened to him.
The story is primarily set on the island kingdom called Yamatai which was ruled by the mythical Japanese queen named Himiko. Much to Croft’s surprise, she is not only one who washed up ashore. The island is home to others who washed up on shore, as well as a private paramilitary sect seeking to use the supposed power from the ancient queen.
The story, which is influenced by the past two video games (Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider) is rushed and uninspired. The plot is also very narrow and tends to follow an ABC format that is so common in action adventure movies. It doesn’t stray away from the beaten path from traditional action formulas.
Croft struggles, but at no point does she seem in any real peril. It doesn’t feel like the bad guy may actually win and too one sided to have depth themselves.
Also, the movie doesn’t really show Croft exploring tombs. It’s more of a fight for survival, which given the circumstances, is understandable but too cliche. It doesn’t capture the balance between survival and action like “The Revenant.” If they followed the 2013 reboot, then it would’ve been different. The game was able to find the right balance between exploration, survival and folklore.
Almost immediately, Croft is presented as someone who is capable, strong and cunning. So, there is a lack of character development. The overall emotion of her character hardly changes. After killing someone for the first time, Croft takes a brief moment to comprehend what she has done.
Within the next five minutes of the movie, she doesn’t hesitate to kill another. She is somehow able to lead a band of prisoners to safety like an experienced war general. It just makes for awkward character development.
Except for a few times, the audience hardly gets to see Lara be vulnerable. The audience isn’t included in any inner monologue. It just goes one scene to the next, which the audience just has to follow.
Her character is an enigma, but the writers try too hard to make her be one. She’s tough, resilient and a survivor but the way the character is portrayed, you’d already believe she has gone through this same scenario before.
Further, her character is wickedly smart. For someone who wasn’t interested in exploring ancient puzzles, she just somehow understands how to solve them. It comes off as she’s just really good at solving puzzle. The film doesn’t allow the audience to be included with her analyzing her methods. We don’t really get to see her think or analyze, nothing.
However, there are things that this version gets right compared to the two with Angelina Jolie. The overall production is nice. The surrounding nature setting is beautifully bleak. There is a sense of dread from the set. The use of grey, stormy clouds along goes a long way. So does the dark and dirtiness of the only tomb in the film. The audience can lose the sense of time because the island does feel lost and time doesn’t move.
While Croft is weirdly superhuman, she is more presentable. Of course, she’s actually a rich girl who earned her old money the old fashioned way. She inherited it. But, she has a hard time coming to terms with the disappearance of her father. Until then, she has no money. She takes a simple job of being a food delivery driver. She does a sport (MMA) that many people actually do. In a way, these smaller details make her more relatable. She’s not over the top like Jolie’s character.
Also, another notable aspect is that they hardly focus on her gender or sex appeal. In previous incarnations, Croft was a sex symbol. There was a gross sexualization in game and in the movies that attracted people to it.
This time, Croft is dressed realistically. She wears the tank top she floated ashore in, cargo pants that are necessary to work on a boat and combat boots. After all, she isn’t going on this trip for a vacation. Unlike the previous versions, Croft gets dirty quickly and doesn’t come out clean.
Also, they hardly ever refer to her gender. There is one time that she is called a little girl mockingly by the main villain, Mathias. Within the first minutes of being captured, she is put to work alongside the men. She carries the same weight. She’s treated like one of the boys. In a way, if Croft was a guy, the story would’ve hardly changed if at all. That is probably the biggest improvement compared to Jolie’s versions that embraced the character’s sexualization. She’s more human with more human features. In the movie, she proves that the story doesn’t change if she was a man or woman. They focus on her resilience and finding strength without limiting her because she’s a woman.
It’s not the best action film and not the most compelling. Alicia Vikander is what makes the movie memorable. She does a wonderful job playing a character many fans online said can’t compare to Angelina Jolie’s edition. It’s more of a movie you turn on when you want something mindless but fun to watch.