Thursday, March 15, 2018

Tomb Raider Review: An Adventurous Adaptation

Video Games and movies tend to have a mix relationship. The transition from console to the silver screen can get  messy as more often than not it leads to adaptations that are either mediocre or just tedious. However that is not to say that every video game movie turns out to be unsuccessful. A cased point would be none other than Tomb Raider. The hit video game series made its cinematic debut in 2001 where it found some semblance of success. However, one sequel later, Tomb Raider quietly bowed out of the movie world as the series discontinued its celluloid adventure, that is until now. Lara Croft returns to the silver screen in a brand new adventure directed by Roar Uthaug. Rather than continuing from where it left off Tomb Raider is a reboot and based on the 2013 video game-which also was a reboot. Being a fan of the game, and never saying no to an adventure, I checked out the new Tomb Raider and found myself quite satisfied with the experience.

The story of Tomb Raider centers on Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) who journeys to an uncharted island to find out what happened to her father (Dominic West). What she discovers is a group of mercenaries searching for the tomb of Himiko and the secrets within. When comparing it to the game’s story the plot managed to true to the ideas of its source; although it did take many liberties but that was to be expected. Looking at it for what it was the story of Tomb Raider was an effective adventure. The origin concept  worked for the movie as it gave a clear understanding of who Lara Croft is and what kind of adventures she deals with. A surprising element to the plot was that it took its time to build up Lara’s journey. Granted the pacing could be quick, particularly in the film’s climax, but this still worked  to the movie’s advantage by keeping things exciting. Along with a few surprises the plot of Tomb Raider was adventurous to say the least; and though it could be too straightforward it did not take away from the exciting execution of this adaptation.

Because of her popularity the character of Lara Croft can be a task to interpret correctly, but I think both filmmakers and Alicia Vikander were up to the challenge to bring Ms.Croft to life. The depiction of Lara Croft was different, even from the latest rendition of the character, as the film showed off Lara’s vulnerable side. While this may seem off putting this direction was effective as it made Lara a believable protagonist and helped balance out the character’s more heroic traits. Bringing all of this together was Alicia Vikander who had a fantastic performance as the young heroine. Along with the solid portrayal of Lara Croft was a supporting cast that was surprisingly effective in their delivery. The supporting characters felt just as important as Lara as they were able to stand out in their ways. This was notable in the villain Mathias Vogel who, rather than playing to type, had an intriguing sense of reason to him which was brought out through the performance from the underrated Walton Goggins. Even the likes of  Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), who had limited screen time, was a good addition to the cast as he was able to support Lara while being his own character.  Adding icing to this cake were appearances from the likes of Derek Jacobi and Nick Frost-and in my book that is never a bad thing to to add your cast.

The technical elements of Tomb Raider were nothing to be stunned by, but they were still effective in their presentation. The effects were adequate as the use of practical and spectacle techniques gave a fitting balance for this adaptation. The score by Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL) was hard to get into at the beginning, but as things played the music of Tomb Raider was solid as it featured memorable compositions that enhanced the movie’s sense of adventure. Last and not least was the movie’s action which ended up being an stellar factor for the movie. While it may not have featured the most dynamic action this element was still efficient as it incorporated both keen spectacle and good choreography to create several standout moment; such as the chase sequence in London and the climatic tomb scene.

Tomb Raider turned to be a solid blockbuster. The movie could be too simplistic for its own and this took the reboot only so far. However with its strong presentation in the likes of storytelling and performances Tomb Raider had many merits to it that made it a fitting adaptation as well as fun film to see this season. If this is to be the start a series of films then I believe that Tomb Raider is a good place than any to start for a new adventure.

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