Tomb Raider suffers from unfortunate poor pacing choices throughout the entire film....although it succeeds with it’s strong performances, character motives, ability to relate to the internal motives of the villain, exciting set pieces (although on the verge of being overdone CGI in most instances), and a fantastic small cameo by the legendary Nick Frost.
The design played well off of the games’ visuals, along with a sense of the classic Indiana Jones atmosphere. The visuals feel artificial but in a ‘videogame’ sense, as there are clear green screen presence in some scenes. This makes it more of a cheesy and fun adventure than an overly realistic dramatization of Lara’s story. The jungle where a majority of the film takes place is visually simple but that’s because the scenes are not overly utilizing the backdrop for action setpieces. The iconic “leap” from the new games to several action set pieces are visually fun in their execution. Vikander’s makeup after several brutal beatings really displays the damage well, with the artists clearly capturing the pain she was going through and the people she attacks are just as visually stunning. The set design and overall team behind the scenes with the visuals knocked it out of the park.
This newest rendition of the Tomb Raider franchise happens to be the first time I’ve ever seen anything in the series in its entirety. That being said, I have some knowledge of the character Lara Croft, although not a whole lot besides the simple facts that in the previous versions of the character she wore short shorts and a tank top, most likely raiding tombs. Alicia Vikander’s Lara Croft design seem to be much more influenced by the newest video game reboot - which works wonderfully for the actress over the prior designs.
I admire the direction Roar Uthaug (The Wave) gave this newest Tomb Raider. It held the fun storytelling of a modern day Indiana Jones and with this being the director’s first Big Screen Wide Release feature, it comes as a surprise that Tomb Raider is actually a pretty impressively fun time, minus a few creatively directed moments. But some absurd choices do remain in the final product; most notably being a sequence with a bike race that leads nowhere in the forward moving plot. The director utilizes CGI and the talents of those involved to help improve the stylistic decisions he makes on this new and improved Tomb Raider.
Lara Croft isn’t a master of the bow, or a master tomb raider at the start of this 2018 rendition of the character, but is instead just a young woman on the search for her missing father, trying to find distractions where she can get them. After a tip is given to her, she seeks out a ride to a mysterious, unmapped island that she believes her father may be trapped on. After her rapid voyage comes to a disastrous end, she must try to survive on the island amongst the inhabitants that reside there, while continuing to search for her lost father. The film has a rough but interesting beginning that luckily transforms into a fun, Indiana Jones style film once Croft hits the water. The dark mythology created around the tomb is full of twists and turns, following through with what could have easily been made cheap. Instead it is luckily concluded with its full potential - this being one of the pure Indiana Jones elements of the feature (and no, it’s not aliens).
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft may be one of the most perfect castings of an iconic character recreated on the big screen. Vikander nailed the role, even when the script failed her. She delivered the enthusiasm and charisma that we, the audience, were glad to see from the origin of the Croft legacy. Walton Goggins plays the menacing villain to Vikander’s Croft, kidnapping her father and searching for a hidden tomb to please his mysterious boss. Forced to stay for years and years on the distant, uncategorized island without his wife or kids, the pain of being without them has slowly gotten to him. Goggins brings a great personality to this typical evil villain, with a little bit of humanity to his horrific actions. Now while the two main characters really capture the fun and excitement of what you’d expect from this Uncharted/Indiana Jones style adventure, the other side characters fall way into the background. None of them are particularly bad, just forgettable due to their lack of screen time. This falls mainly on the shoulders of Daniel Wu (Lara’s new friend) and Dominic West (Lara’s Father). Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) even shows up for a total of two scenes, so basically a cameo, and is fantastic, making the audience wish he was in much, much more of this relatively humorless film.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
There’s a lot less to say about the sound design so let’s begin with that: it’s great. The fights, the jumps,and the weapons being fired all sound authentic and never unregistered from their originators. Now the score I found to be marvelous, perhaps one of the best video game movie scores ever created, and it’s from the ever growing composer, Junkie XL. Junkie XL has composed some phenomenal things including Mad Max: Fury Road and Deadpool, but while he has his accolades, he also has his failures. Luckily for us, Tomb Raider is not one of those failures, composing a passionate score that perfectly embodies the whole of Lara’s adventure. The similarities it accompanies with other wonderful scores, make it one to sit down and listen to - just to try and dissect the different motivations for each musical placement. The score may be great, but even with a great score, it can be sucked into the backdrop of an oddly fitting scene and make the scene feel out of place. This triumphantly succeeds in making a scene like the ‘pointless’ bicycle race at the beginning of the film into something that will make any heart race.