I’m not certain how to even review a film like this. How do you a judge a film such as this which measures itself by its earnest mimicking of a videogame? In order to justify its existence, it has to fulfill particular criteria such as having tombs/action/stunts/mysteries/ancient evil/a race against other ‘raiders’ whilst it also manages the franchise trope of being an origin story that establishes characters (such as they are) and sets up parameters for a whole series of future films, box office willing. Not so sure this film ticked that last particular box but on the whole it managed the rest with some aplomb. That there is my issue though- while it does what it says on the tin, so to speak, and manages to be what it clearly wants to be, whether that also means that its a good movie is another matter.
I mean, it doesn’t surprise, it doesn’t really shock or particularly thrill. You get a clear sense of the script ticking boxes: this is Lara, this is her (missing) father, this is her inheriting her fortune/quest, with ensuing exotic locales and chases and stunts and action and villains and oh, look, her father’s popped up again, he’s not dead after all etc.
Its certainly faithful. It looks and sounds like a Tomb Raider movie and Alicia Vikander certainly looks the part of a very modern Lara Croft- in the same way as the videogame persona of Lara has changed/progressed over the years, she’s now more of a role model for girls than a sex-object for boys. At least, that part has been toned a fair bit, certainly compared to the powerful and sultry presence of past Lara, Angeline Jolie (of the 2001 and 2003 films). Not that Vikander isn’t beautiful or sexy, its just heroines aren’t quite as ‘buxom/powerful/intoxicating sex goddess’ as they used to be- now they are more, well, Rey I guess. There is something more serious and honest in this incarnation, which is a Good Thing, surely. But maybe something a little more duller.
Of course the main point of contention is the fun factor, and why anyone would prefer to watch a fairly pedestrian film such as this than actually play the videogame that it so faithfully/slavishly mimics. We have the gun fights, the leaping over chasms, climbing up obstacles, solving mysteries, exploring old tombs of the games but its much more fun to simply play those games, surely. This film isn’t really bad, it just doesn’t really have much reason to exist, sadly.