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Tomb Raider Movie Review

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Another year, another video game movie. We all know that movies based on video games have terrible tract records, but I actually had some hope with this one. I don’t know if it was the trailer or simply the fact that I love Alicia Vikander, but I did think that we were going to get a good movie. I do have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of the video games. I’ve played the 2013 iteration of the game, but it’s still not a game I’m closely tied to. Nevertheless, I was hoping that this could be the movie to give the video game genre a push in the right direction.

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Tomb Raider is directed by Roar Uthuag and stars Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft. Seven years after her father’s disappearance, Lara is struggling to make it on her own. Despite a massive inheritance from her father waiting for her signature, she instead fights at an amateur gym and works delivering around London. When she is finally called back to the family business, she listen’s to her dad’s call to adventure and sets out to find him on an island near his last intended destination.

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Is it too much of an overstatement to start this review by saying that this might be one of the top two video game movies of all-time? It might even take the top spot to be completely honest. As of right now, is there a valid argument to be made for any movie other than Mortal Kombat being number one? I personally don’t think so, and despite its similar issues, Tomb Raider is probably a better movie than Mortal Kombat. First off, Alicia Vikander is great as Lara Croft. Again, I’m not a huge fan of the games, so I don’t have an issue with her stature and her physicality or lack thereof. Often times presence and commitment outweigh physicality, and Vikander has both of those. She combines her Oscar-level talent with full knowledge of the project she’s involved with. She might not be big and bulky, but she’s still a great action hero. This movie knows the source material, and it knows that it’s not doing anything fresh or fantastic story-wise. It’s self-aware, and it’s able to put all of its focus into the action sequences and the adventure aspects. The action sequences are very well-directed, and, again, Alicia Vikander nails them with near-perfect stunt work and a feeling of desperation. Often times they actually feel like a video game, and the shot composition and editing physically invested me in the film. There is a sequence toward the middle of the movie during which Lara Croft sneaks over, under, and around obstacles, and it felt like I was inside a video game trying to avoid the villains. I also love that Lara feels like a human. She takes an absolute beating in this movie. Granted, she always seems to rebound similar to how video game characters regenerate health, but she always takes Indiana Jones-style beatings and actually has to deal with injuries. I felt her internal and external struggles, and it was because of the humanity given to her by Alicia Vikander and the sense of adventure.

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I enjoyed the movie, and I think that it does a lot of things well, but it does have its issues. As I mentioned up above, it’s not doing anything too special or reinventing the wheel when it comes to story. You’ve seen every aspect of this story, and you’ve probably heard most of this dialogue. Even the lines that evoke a little bit of emotion are relatively predictable and can be mistimed. The movie is also too long and can feel oversaturated with action sequences and exposition. I think that it could have been cut down by fifteen or twenty minutes. The pacing tends to drag a bit, and I think that issue could have been solved with some tighter story editing. I also found the villain bland. Walton Goggins is an incredible actor, so the performance and the amount of screen-time he gets allow him to stand out, but he was still flat. I wasn’t completely sure what his motivations and goals were, so I spent most of my time latching onto Lara Croft.

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Overall, Tomb Raider is far from a great movie, but I do think that it’s a pretty good movie. It’s enjoyable, and its action sequences are very well-directed and shot. I was invested enough for the movie to feel like a video game, but it remained an objective story that doesn’t take vast knowledge of the source material to enjoy. Alicia Vikander is a great Lara Croft, and her performance and embodiment of the character is one that I thought fit perfectly with the newer iterations of the video game. Possibly the best part of the film was the sense of adventure and how it had me willing to be dragged right along with the story. Croft’s desire to experience the world and get her father back was extremely compelling, and while the story isn’t the most original narrative, it’s still refreshing to see a human character who can take a beating. Lara is never the character who wins fist fights with ease and by completely overpowering her opponents. She actually loses often, but the losses allow us to see who she is as a person as compared to as a hand-to-hand fighter. The story isn’t tightly-knit, and the villain isn’t very compelling, but this movie knows what it is, and I had a lot of fun with it. I’m going to give Tomb Raider a 6.3/10.

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Will you be seeing Tomb Raider? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm