Movie Review: ‘Tomb Raider’ Is A Step In The Right Direction For Video Games Movies

Much has been written about the supposed video game curse. Many say that there has never been a good movie based on a video game and some even argue that it’s not possible because of the nature of the medium. This is actually bullshit if you trace the history of these adaptations or look at the potential games that could be adapted. Most have certainly been poorly adapted, but movies like ‘Final Fantasy:The Spirits Within’, ‘Mortal Kombat’, ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’, and even the second ‘Tomb Raider’ movie were all pretty entertaining movies. They were critically bashed, but some well respected critics also enjoyed them.

The real video game curse lies with these films inability to win a favorable rating with enough critics to be labeled as a good movie. Part of the reason for this is that critics seem hell bound to dislike these movies just for being made at all (I swear if I read it’s like a game without a controller one more time I will go Lara Croft on somebody). I even read a review today that complained that the movie was bad because it was a reboot of a franchise that was based on a reboot of a game. What the hell does that have anything to do with the quality of the film?!

I hoped this statistic would end with this reboot of the ‘Tomb Raider’ franchise, because it’s a pretty good movie. It has a few little issues with the character development of the supporting characters, a couple of poor decisions that might make you roll your eyes a bit, and it’s clear they exchanged some of the better set pieces from the game for weaker ones because they didn’t have the money, but mostly it’s a pretty good movie.

Lara Croft is well rounded and given the proper amount of time to develop as a character. The story is pretty straight forward, but it has a dash of classic ‘Indiana Jones’ like fun to it. And there is one action set piece in this film which will probably be one of the better you see all year. Most importantly, Alicia Vikander gives the role of Lara 110% and she comes off as a truly kick ass role model for anyone (boy or girl) that goes to see this film.

The story of the film follows pretty closely to the 2013 reboot of the game series. In that game, there was an island called Yamatai that an evil queen name Himiko had been entombed on centuries before. The legends told that if released she could spread evil around the globe. So, Lara goes to find it as part of a search to understand her father. This is pretty damn close to the movie, but with a few deviations that are quite surprising.

Once on the island, the real point of this movie and that game is revealed. The tag of the game was “A Survivor Is Born” and that’s exactly what the movie accomplished well. Lara goes from scared and unsure to confident and kick ass. She learns how to kill for survival. She learns how to accept loss. And she learns how to use her training to become a lethal weapon. In essence, she becomes the tomb raider and the bad ass Lara Croft from the 90’s video games is on the way to being born.

Hopefully, this movie will make enough money to justify a sequel. If so, I’m cool with them adapting ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’. I would just suggest that they trust in their source material. The biggest problem with this movie is the missed opportunity to create some wonderful set pieces from the game and build the character through the struggle. I’m sure it’s because of budgetary constraints, but if they get another opportunity I really hope they deliver something stunning and finally break the video game curse.

Nathan Ligon

Film / Theater / Music Critic at Red Carpet Crash
The son of Executive Producer Jon Ligon, Nathan has spent his life in the company of filmmakers and some of the best musicians in Dallas, TX. He has since become a highly viewed critic and short filmmaker for Red Carpet Crash and Shot & Cut Films.
Nathan Ligon

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