Tomb Raider (2018)
Her legend begins.
Never played most of the Tomb Raider games, if I’m going to be honest. I know of them, know a bunch about the character - enough that it always annoyed me when people complained about this fem-powered imaginary person being nothing more than a sex object - and even watched the older movies from it. Yeah, you know, the ones with Jolie in them? Man, did she look the part and get that nice level of sass - and for a person like me who enjoys cheesy flicks, I was more then entertained. Then came the reboot years, and I kept telling myself “you should buy that game when it goes on sale” - newsflash, I still haven’t. I did, however, get around ot watching the movie. Tonight, you find out that it was exactly this long until I realized there was an arrow in the title, let’s talk Tomb Raider.
Now, every good reboot really just needs to try and do something different with the material in my mind - whether it’s successful or not is a different story, but it should at least try. Where the last was dare I say a bit campy or overly cheesy, I expected based on the trailers that it wasn’t going to be a thing for this one - better or worse. We also get an actress that more matches the new game counterpart - perhaps a bit more “modern” in looks, although one could argue that it’s not so much more modern as much as just looking more average, like someone you could come across on the street going about your day. Just that change alone is enough to already temper my expectations going in - I’m not expecting a ton of puns, wit, and fighting tigers and mummies with two handguns. This is good to know - because honestly the movie fell right in line with those expectations over it’s course more or less, so I had started in the perfect mood to enjoy what it was going to give.
In it’s essence, it’s a adventure flick. Dad does secret things (set up by the preamble, which then further gets re-iterated a little while later when the adventure’s call kicks in, as it tends to do), goes missing, and years down the road the kid hears the call of adventure and discovery and goes after them only to get in way deeper than they every could have expected. Puzzles, chases, danger, traps, and baddies all away, with perhaps even the twinkle of a little romance. If you are already familiar with it all, then it won’t be too surprising or game breaking for you as far as plot and how things progress - although the spin on keeping it more grounded with the serious tone by relegating magic to contraptions and more scientific observations is perhaps a departure for some - certainly from what I understood of at least the old games at that. The last bit could be a bit of an abrasion point for those who really want that, but looking past it you’ve got all the trappings of an enjoyable adventure flick.
The actors do a decent job here too. Yes, some aren’t as good as others, and some scenes certainly aren’t stand-out award contenders, but on a whole it does feel like most the time people are trying and doing a good job. Vikander does a good job with the athleticism and smarts side of the character, although I do miss some of the wit and sassy joking banter. Is it accurate? No idea, for reasons already mentioned, but at least for on screen chemistry she’s quite likeable in the roll, and although she might not have muscles to rival a lot of wrestling women out there, the opening boxing scene does wonders towards showing off that although her frame may be unassuming she’s ripped like a roadrunner on red bull. That being said, although there isn’t really too many situations where it’s straight up “damsel in distress” despite her being the hero, there is a running theme of her just being incapable of winning a fist fight in this movie whether as a gag or intentionally. The enemies are a bit forgettable, but do a good job of plopping into their rolls with some gusto when they want, and the various allies, friends, and interactable non-plot characters all do a pretty good job of at least providing entertainment on the screen if they don’t provide a good level of acting.
The costumes are a nice mix of adventure movie and modern. Of course, the main pulls off her game counterpart’s appearance well, and we do get plenty of contrasts when it comes to the more militarized enemies and the random captured workers or good guys. Some of the fancier elements fall far more into the effects department, but the wardrobe leaves a good deal to be fun with it’s details, even if it’s just a slight fox tail tied on a bike for a little capture-the-flag bike action. The highlight for the costumes, in my mind and in pun, would be the baddies at the end when some actual tomb raiding is happening, as they have these lights on the shoulder straps of their gear - which although doesn’t really seem like it’d do much, makes for some real nice profile and sillohuette shots regardless.
The effects have plenty to do in this movie, what with the constant inclusion of races, chases, and action of various kinds. Some of the shots really stand out as cool - the dramatic jump from the boat being one right up front and center - and a lot of the scenes particularly towards the end look cinematicly great. Sometimes things get a little cut-happy, but it’s usually not too disorienting or overdone for long periods during the action. You will rarely loose track of whats happening, although that mileage might change depending on the watcher and how much attention they are paying to things. Violence is there a few times, and it’s admittedly rather lightweight most the time compared to some of the stuff I’ve watched lately. Yeah, some of it certainly looks like it would hurt, but it’s also mostly things like “oh no, my clothes are kinda red and wet now” levels of violence as opposed to “my arm is off and it’s pressure washing blood everywhere!” levels of violence. You know, realisitic or perhaps slightly more “safe” than realistic battle damage.
The soundtrack didn’t really do much for me when it comes to after the movie - perhaps less it’s fault as much as the fact it needs to do battle with all the songs from Godzilla stuck in my head right now. It did still add the punch and excitement to scenes like it was supposed to, or help you feel perhaps a bit more emotionally inclined to believe how sad or touching a scene might be however, so it’s not like it was a bad soundtrack or anything like that. Audio balance was good old top notch, as usual. Line delivery can be a bit chewy at times, but you’ll hear it regardless of if you think it’s good or not.
This was a pretty good movie. More so than the old Raider flicks, this one has plenty more stand out scenes that look darn good, but overall I think I might enjoy the older ones more given their lack of feeling required to be an origin story or be serious in any way. The acting is good, the shots are good, the movie’s paced well. It’s probably well worth a rental for plenty of folks, especially if you already like that action adventure genre. Perhaps, although who really knows, that someday I’ll get around to getting and playing what it’s on and figure out how much of a difference knowing the new base-line would make on it - but I wouldn’t hold your breath for that.