This will be a spoiler filled review, check out my IMDB account for my review if you want to see this movie with out knowing some big twists.
Alright, seeing as you’re still here let’s dive into this. I’m going to break this review down first with the film as its own story, then how it compares to its source material, and finally my recommendation on it.
Keeping in mind I have played the video games I will do my best to give this a review based on it’s story telling, acting, script, and visual effects. When we compare the movie to the games I’ll dive into the problems I had. Seeing as in my opinion, had I not played the games, I wouldn’t have been bothered by things that did bother me.
Alright, let’s talk about Lara Croft. (It’s not too late to check out my IMDB account and watch the film before you read the rest of this. Still committed? Okay..) This is a great origin story about a young woman struggling with the disappearance of her father. We are shown plausible reasons why Lara is as athletic and strong as she is, and how she is emotional and in need of closure. The script is moderate and you get the occasional cheesy line but nothing that distracts from the narrative of the film, and the actors work the script pretty well. My only complaint (related strictly to the movie) is that Alicia Vikander is the only woman on screen for the majority of the film. She strong and she saves herself most of the time but it would have been nice to have her interact with other women more.
Alright, Film Vs Source Material. I will say my expectation was for the film to be a touch more like Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider, where it wasn’t a retelling of the video game’s story but a companion to it, and it started out that way. First twenty five to thirty minutes super solid adaptation that was its own thing (there is a funny difference, I think, in how people expect book adaptations to be verses video game adaptations. But that’s a post for another day).
Then comes Himiko. Here’s the thing, I both loved and hated that nothing was a new experience for me after that point. I saw this movie with my mom, so it felt like taking someone to see a film I had already seen. I loved it because it’s similar to showing someone a show you’re really into, you know what’s going to happen so you’re excited to see how they like it; however, because I hadn’t seen this film this feeling is also something I hated, I wanted to experience something new.
There is one thing though that I have had the hardest time getting over, it’s important to note that if this was the first time I had ever heard of Tomb Raider or if I had only seen the films this wouldn’t bother me, and that’s Lara’s father being alive. It is a key thing for a lot of Lara’s development as a character that she is an orphan, she loses her parents at a young age, regardless of the reboot.
This is the best way I can think of comparing it: it’s safe to say that everyone knows about Batman, that said, imagine a world where Bruce Wayne is still the Batman we all know, but one of his parents is alive. It changes the narrative completely; even if it’s introduced the way it is for Lara, where the parent is presumed dead for a number of years.
Now Jolie’s first Tomb Raider movie did a similar stunt where she tries to save her father’s life by using an artifact that is central to that movie. So, again, if I had only seen the films I wouldn’t be bothered. Seeing Lara so close to bringing her father home would have gotten the desired reaction from me when she fails; but this was predictable to me and therefor just frustrating. Her father didn’t add anything else to the story. You could have replaced his character with a lamp and gotten the same result. Not to say that Dominic West’s acting was bad, because it wasn’t, but his character being in anything “present day” for the story took away the emotional value for me.
At the end of the day this film accomplishes what it aimed to be, an entertaining story. As a long time fan, some stuff bothered me, but it didn’t take away from my over all enjoyment.
Was it worth seeing in theaters? Yes.
Would I pay to see it in theaters again? Probably not, but I’d watch it on Netflix again.