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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

‘Tomb Raider’ Review

“Tomb Raider” is a film that, from the outset, seems to have equal parts going for and against it. While it can boast a talented director and cast, the writing staff is less impressive, the concept of archaeological fantasy is inching ever so closely toward triteness, the previous films in the franchise have not endured so well, and, most dire of all, it is a video game adaptation. The result of this mixed assortment of pros and cons is an equally mixed cinematic experience, which at its best is an exciting emotional fight for one woman’s survival, and at its worst is a played-out barrage of predictable tropes. Yet despite the film’s glaring flaws, ”Tomb Raider” does not, like too many of today’s blockbusters, ever feel lazy.

Like any good adapter, director Roar Uthaug has taken the best parts of the 2013 video game his film recreates, while abandoning those aspects best left forgotten. Fans of the games will recognize the character Laura Croft and her fight for survival in the Japanese wilderness while trying to uncover the ancient mysteries of the island of Yamatai, but the supporting cast, story, and mythology of the film are entirely unfamiliar. These changes are most welcome, however, as the simplification of the story allows Uthaug to focus as much screen time as possible on the fantastic character that is Laura Croft and on Alicia Vikander’s fierce portrayal of her. Like the game it is based off of, ”Tomb Raider” puts Laura through hell and she comes out on top. It is a simple story of wilderness survival that keeps the familiarity of the plot from eclipsing experience.

Less stunning, however, is the films antagonist Mathias Vogel. Though actor Walton Goggins delivers an expectedly captivating performance, the writing just isn’t there in the same way it is for Laura. One step above the bland villains iconic to most Marvel movies, Mathias feels like a well thought out character whose development was cut for time. Similar to the 2013 game’s villain in name only, Mathias is set up to be a grim reflection of what Laura might become if she fails to escape the island, but never truly gets to challenge Laura’s beliefs, and his inner-conflict is only ever discussed, not shown.

Yet the real crux of the film is not found on Yamatai itself, but rather in the malicious forces which push people towards the island. Trinity—the Illuminati-esque organization hell bent on global domination through mystical powers—is so aggravatingly dull that if Mathias felt like a butter-knife, they must be a bendy-straw. While audiences can rest happily ignoring this contrivance of contrivances throughout the bulk of the picture, the film ends with Trinity pushing the otherwise fine story into cheap sequel set-up territory, which, if the film does poorly and no sequel is ever green-lit, will leave fans of the film eternally lacking closure.
“Tomb Raider” is about as far from perfect as a film can get while still being good. The action is mostly fun, the characters are mostly interesting, the plot is mostly effective. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing too bad. Uthaug has made something that fans of the game should all enjoy, along with anyone else who likes a good self-serious action-adventure story. And given the strength of the strengths of this film we should all walk away hoping for more adventures in this world, despite the film’s attempts to create such hope.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10.