As a child, I spent one too many sleepless nights playing the Tomb Raider franchise in PS1. From the first one all the way to Tomb Raider Chronicles. At the advent of the PS2, I played The Angel of Darkness, Tomb Raider: Legend, and Anniversary. When PS3 came, I played Tomb Raider: Underworld which is my personal favorite following Tomb Raider II: The Dagger of Xian. After a five year wait following Underworld, the reboot was released and I spent a good week to finish the game and its sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider. My citing the games is a clear indication that I am a fan of the franchise. I also collected the action figures, no matter how terrible Lara Croft looked and bemoaned the points of articulation as it was terribly lacking.
In 2001, a film starring Angelina Jolie was made. I remember counting the days until the premiere which I attended with my mom in Glorietta IV. I was 14 years old. I didn’t mind that Angelina Jolie’s acting was painfully wooden, I thought she was perfect and I was geeking out through the entire film. The sequel was released in 2003 which I also saw on its first day but found myself dissatisfied especially with that whole “shark punching” business.
A little over a year ago, it was announced that Oscar winner Alicia Vikander will take over the role of Lara Croft and they’re doing a movie based on the reboot with Norwegian director Roar Uthaug, also marking his first foray into Hollywood. Excited as I was, I also did not keep my hopes up since the Angelina Jolie films served straight up laughable schlock. All I know is I will definitely be watching it.
Vikander was pitch perfect as the young Lara Croft. The look, physique, hairstyle and moves were nailed to a T. She had the trademark bow and arrow and the climbing ace which happens to be my favorite weapon in the game. They also incorporated several elements and scenery from the film which is guaranteed to please fans of the gaming franchise. Dominic West was cast as Lord Richard Croft, her father who disappeared seven years before. Daniel Wu plays Lu Ren, the captain of the Endurance. In the game, the Endurance was a much bigger ship but there was no Lu Ren. Walton Goggins plays Matthias Vogel, the antagonist who was shipwrecked in the Island of Yamatai, off the coast of Japan. They added a nice touch by casting Kristin Scott Thomas as Ana Miller, Richard Croft’s lover and guardian to Lara.
Let’s get right down to it.
While the film’s visuals were in line with the game and most gamers will find so many elements that were present in the game, marrying the plots of Tomb Raider 2013 and Rise of the Tomb Raider made this film problematic. In the game, Queen Himiko was the Sun Queen, a woman blessed with shamanistic powers and could control the weather. She was said to be Immortal. However, for her to continue living, she needs a suitable physical host in which she could transfer her soul. Here, they changed the plot and incorporated the Trinity story line which shouldn’t be. Fans of the game would also decry the lack of the original cast. Roth, Reyes, Jonah, Alex, and Sam, along with Whitman were all missing from the story line which was supposed to be essential if we will follow the Yamatai storyline.
Also, WHERE. ARE. THE. ONIS!?!?
The Oni were supposed to be the stormguards, guardians of Queen Himiko and was supposed to be instrumental in the story and is incredibly disappointing to not see any of them in the film. For as much as Vikander is highly showcased in the film, they offered little by means of character development not only for the titular character but the others as well. My beef with the film is they should have stuck to the original game’s storyline instead of marrying the plots of the reboot and its sequel. The plot felt overly complicated and haphazardly executed as if it was rushed. They really were both advised to just stick with the storyline. I don’t understand why most filmmakers and directors never learn as far as adapting games into film is concerned.
However, for all its flaws, it is still an enjoyable film which is worth watching. If you are to compare this with the first two Tomb Raider films, I wouldn’t say this is better by leaps and bounds but isn’t a bad way to spend two hours.