Lara Croft is back – this time fierce, yet still human: A ‘Tomb Raider’ (2018) film review

4.36 over 5 stars.

There is no dull moment with Roar Uthaug’s “Tomb Raider.”

The 2018 remake of the beloved video game movie is a full glass of adrenaline that is already at its tipping point. True enough, my heart never had the time to rest from pumping so fast whilst engrossed to every action sequence the film has to offer. It even seems that all the action was never enough – the story was given its fill of drama, with a dash of suspense and humor. The cinematography and score also added to the rush. Of course, all of these would not have worked without the superb performance of the lead actress herself, Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft.

The Story

3.88 over 5 stars

The movie’s story is based from the 2013 reboot of the video game itself. It introduces us to a young Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) before the peak of her adventure. At the beginning of the film, she leads a happy-go-lucky life, unmindful of her family’s fortune and legacy. However, due to a quirk of circumstance, she finds herself on the brink of accepting her abundant inheritance. She is given first an unexpected puzzle though from her father, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), who is presumed to be dead after his disappearance seven years earlier.

After being able to solve the puzzle, she soon learns the reason why Richard left her – he went on an expedition to unearth the legend of Himiko, a Japanese ‘Queen of Death’. With her curiosity sparked, she sets off to Hong Kong, following the trail Richard did not want her to follow. She enlists the help of a drunken sailor there named Lu Ren (Daniel Wu). Together, they navigate towards an uninhabited island in the middle of the Devil’s Sea where Himiko is suspected to be laying rest.

However, a raging storm batters their ship against the island, forcing them to abandon the floundering vessel. She swims to shore, but is taken by Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) into custody. The next day, she slowly realizes that Mathias is from Trinity, an organization which wants to take advantage of Himiko’s legendary power over death as a weapon of mass destruction. Thanks to her father’s notes that Lara brought with her, Mathias finally locates the door to Himiko’s tomb.

As they venture forth to the gate, Lara manages to escape from Mathias’ army with Lu Ren’s assistance. But the road to freedom proved to be a rocky one – she was badly beaten in the affair. As she tries to survive every passing hour, she finds herself on her first adventure, that is, revealing the mystery of Himiko and her mythical death touch vis-a-vis that of her father’s mysterious disappearance.

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Hurt, but determined to survive. Photo from the Internet Movie Database

Being a remake, the 2018 film’s story is obviously not entirely original. Of course, there is predictability everywhere – we all know for a fact that Lara Croft is not going to die, no matter what fate brings upon her. Heck, she is the main heroine in the video game after all! Yet, what I liked about the storytelling is that it still manages to give the element of suspense in all the death-defying acts that Lara had to endure in order to live another day. There is just so many of them that you will surely feel more than satisfied with all the action sequences.

Also, screenwriters Evan Daugherty and Geneva Robertson-Dworet attempted to give Lara’s backstory a little more depth. We get to know a female hero who shares a very intimate relationship with her father. It is Richard’s sudden vanishing that propelled her life. The film is not only about her stepping up to be a Croft, but also about her seeking answers to her insurmountable questions about her father’s whereabouts; and she reconciles with all of them towards the conclusion. Many dislike this aspect of the plot, saying that it dulled the supposed-to-be-action-filled-story, but I liked it regardless.

The Sights and Sounds

4.55 and 4.50 over 5 stars, respectively.

What I truly liked about the film’s visuals is how the cinematographers caught all the action scenes on camera. The swift panning shots and abrupt angle shifts were truly effective in inciting adrenaline rush, albeit being a bit disorienting. Also, the set and wardrobe felt genuine. The disarray of Hong Kong’s fishing port is indeed the perfect spot for a chase. Meanwhile, Lara’s grungy looks after being through so many things show the audience how fierce she really is.

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Dirty and fierce. Photo from the Internet Movie Database

Of course, the epic orchestral score added more weight to every sequence. Hearing those bold and dramatic notes while Lara tried her best to survive haf certainly jumpstarted my heart a couple of times.

The Starrers

4.50 over 5 stars.

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Daniel Wu and Alicia Vikander on set as Lu Ren and Lara Croft. Photo from the Internet Movie Database

Most of my praises to the cast are for our prima donna herself, Alicia Vikander. She surely had big shoes to fill, knowing that the role of Lara Croft was previously portrayed by THE Angeline Jolie; and she did deliver. Alicia’s take on our superstar is a different one – her Lara Croft is she who is just beginning her adventure. We see a Lara who still has a heart despite her raw, unadulterated bravery. This makes her feel much more human, compared to Angelina’s Lara who was somehow a superhero. When Alicia’s version trembled after her first kill, I felt for her. Her Lara is just relatable to the audience.

Daniel Wu gave a good supporting performance as Lu Ren. He just was not given a second or two under the lime light as it was solely dedicated to our lead character. Meanwhile, Dominic West’s portrayal of Lord Richard West felt kind of mediocre. I actually cannot decide if it was due to his acting, or if his character was written that way. Lastly, Walton Goggins was awful as the film’s antagonist. His Mathias Vogel seemed lost throughout the movie, and lacked the determination of a true villain. Walton was trying hard to match Alicia, but he just could not reach the bar.

Film Score Board_Tomb Raider 2018

Rebooting a franchise is no easy task. The filmmakers have to make sure that the renewed saga will either meet the audience’s expectations based from the prior franchise, or exceed them. I say that the 2018 “Tomb Raider” did a terrific job in satisfying its fans by taking us back to where her adventure all began. With this, the story was made more vivid – Lara is no longer the invincible woman, but a human being like all of us. Alicia undeniably pulled it off as the iconic heroine.

“Tomb Raider” went off to a good start, and I am hyped to see more of Alicia’s Lara Croft.

Tomb Raider (2018) was released on 8 March 2018 for the Philippine audience, and is still currently running.

This blog post’s featured image is from the Tomb Raider Collection.

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