When the Tomb Raider video game series was rebooted in 2013, the end result was one of the absolute best adventure games to ever hit a home console. So, when it was announced that MGM and Warner Bros. were making a new Tomb Raider movie based on that gripping virtual adventure, we were more than a little excited.
After all, we'd been invested with the franchise the moment the first video game hit gaming consoles back in 1996, and had even enjoyed both of the original Tomb Raider movies starring Angelina Jolie. And, as we said above, we absolutely loved the 2013 reboot from Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics, and felt the more grounded adventure would make for a great movie.
Does the new Tomb Raider live up to the timeless legacy of Lara Croft?
Let's take a look...
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Daniel Wu, Walton Gagging, Dominic West, Kristin Scott Thomas, Hannah John-Kamen, Nick Frost and Derek Jacobi
Like the game it was based upon, Roar Uthaug's Tomb Raider movie follows a younger, less experienced version of everyone's favorite globetrotting archaeologist. Seven years after the mysterious disappearance of her father, Lara has decided to walk away from her family's sizeable fortune and work as a bike courier - who constantly struggles to make ends meet. Despite this, the opening scenes of the film make sure to showcase the athleticism of the character, and her interest in solving puzzles - aspects of Lara that come into play in a larger way later on.
We also learn of her relationship with her deceased father through a series of melancholy flashbacks, and eventually discover what he was really up to on those apparent business trips after Lara uses her love of puzzles to uncover the man's secret hideout deep within the grounds of the Croft family mausoleum. Once inside, Lara learns that her father was actually off risking his life researching ancient supernatural beings while an evil organization known as Trinity tried to exploit his work.
This shocking discovery sends Lara off on her very first adventure in a desperate attempt to locate her father. Leaving London behind and heading to the bustling city Hong Kong, the inexperienced Lara hires a boat and begins her trek toward the uncharted island of Yamatai, unaware of the dangers that await her as soon as she washes up on its sand laden shores.
Once on the island, it becomes quite clear that the 2013 Tomb Raider game served as inspiration for this latest film - and Alicia Vikander has expertly captured the very essence of the famed female adventurer down to the tiniest detail. Whether she's attempting to escape a crumbling plane, swinging across debris, climbing walls with the aid of a pickax or displaying her signature skill with a bow and arrow, Vikander is Lara Croft in every sense of the word. She's fierce, determined and believable through every last second she appears on screen, and we feel that Roar Uthaug couldn't have made a better choice in casting the role.
While on the island, Lara meets with her fair share of challenges - most in the form of some heavily armed mercenaries and Walton Goggins’ villainous Mathias Vogel. However, it's the island and its secrets that prove to be a much better, more formidable antagonist for Lara. The whole tomb raiding aspect of the film is its most entertaining part and, while it may not offer anything that we haven't already seen in past adventure movies, we found it all to be quite fun.
Granted, it may not be as fun as the Indiana Jones movies, or as over the top as the original Tomb Raider films, but in the end we walked away feeling surprisingly satisfied. This new reboot is brisk and entertaining, built surprisingly well around the intensity of its star. It's fun and, while not perfect, something stylishly watchable that serves as the perfect first step for a new franchise.
While it may not have made the biggest bankroll at the box office this past spring, Tomb Raider was an enjoyable experience to behold, and we genuinely hope that Waner Bros. and MGM will expand upon this new and exciting world in future films that will allow us to further witness the evolution of Lara Croft - as she continuously transforms into the hero we all know she can be!
Adding to the fun of the film, the upcoming Blu-Ray release also comes with a handful of rather interesting special features meant to further immerse fans all the more deeply within the adventurous and fascinating world of Roar Uthaug's Tomb Raider.
This not only includes your usual behind-the-scenes look at how the film was shot, but also offers an interesting look into how the new movie came to be, and how some of its most intense action scenes were shot. Warner Bros. has also included featurettes that explore the rigorous physical training underwent by Alicia Vikander for her role as the new Lara Croft, and a very interesting look at the twenty year legacy of the Tomb Raider video games.
This is perhaps the most interesting and engaging special feature offered on the Blu-Ray version of the film as it not only offers a glimpse into how the games have changed and evolved over the years, but also explores just how much care and attention to detail Warner Bros. and MGM put into the new Tomb Raider film. The interviews included on this featurette are also quite informative and enjoyable, especially if you're like us and have grown up with this gaming franchise since the beginning.
All in all, we were quite impressed with the new Tomb Raider film. Add to this the crystal clear picture, sound and interesting selection of special features included here, and you've got a home video experience that is both action-packed and wholly entertaining.
Roar Uthaug's Tomb Raider is a good adventure film. It's a good action film. And, most importantly, it's worthy of the twenty-plus year legacy of the games that proceeded it. Does it break the twenty-five year video game movie curse? Probably not in the way Hollywood was hoping, but it's certainly a step in the right direction and we sincerely hope we'll be seeing Alicia Vikander back in the role of everyone's favorite globetrotting archaeologist soon.
Overall: "Tomb Raider is an entertaining action flick built solidly around the many strengths of its leading lady."
Tomb Raider arrives on Blu-Ray and DVD tomorrow!
Special thanks to Tyler Robinson of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Until next time, Infinite Earths fans!
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