TOMB RAIDER - What Are The Critics Saying About The Video Game Adaptation?
The first wave of reviews for the live-action Tomb Raider reboot are here but is the movie shaping up to be a hit or another disappointment akin to Assassin's Creed? Hit the jump for further details...
Over the past couple of years, a lot of video game movies have come along which fans have hoped would break the apparent curse which plagues them. Unfortunately, the likes of Assassin's Creed, Agent 47, and Warcraft were all critical and commercial disappointments and it now looks like Tomb Raider is going to join them this coming weekend based on this first wave of reviews from film critics.
They're more mixed thanoverwhelmingly negative but not one of these reviews give the reboot more than 3* and they all managed to find plenty of faults with the seemingly disappointing film.
To check out the full list of reviews, all you need to do is click the buttons below. There aren't any spoilers here (beyond various references to what fans can expect in the movie) but they do provide a good idea of what does and doesn't work in Tomb Raider. Sadly, the latter point dominates here but if this release is a hit at the box office, at least the studio will know where it went wrong here.
Plot and character development fall off a cliff between crazy action — Lara goes flying down a waterfall and through a rusted aircraft in one scene and runs an obstacle course later on that would make Indiana Jones flinch. But there are some fun moments that are welcome when they come, and Vikander boasts amazing abs and insane traps for a highly physical role that diversifies her résumé compared with the more thespian-ready stuff (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl). That said, her leaping in superhuman fashion over a crumbling crevasse tests the limits of belief suspension. Tomb Raider isn’t subtle in planting seeds for sequels. With this fumble as the first outing, though, it’s game over already.
Most significantly, perhaps, this "Tomb Raider" arrives at a moment when female protagonists are far better represented in mainstream American action cinema than they were when the Jolie movies were released. Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor may remain the most venerable examples of this tradition, but fans now have Wonder Woman, Imperator Furiosa and Katniss Everdeen — who, like Lara Croft, wields a mean bow and arrow. They have the women of "Black Panther" and "Annihilation," plus Alice from "Resident Evil." They have Captain Marvel to look forward to. None of this abundance dilutes the basic satisfaction of watching Vikander's Lara shed her nice-girl inhibitions and embrace her destiny, even if that means predictably swinging, leaping, hacking and punching her way through another assembly line of perils. It's hardly the first or last time Hollywood has plundered one of its own long-dormant properties, but it's also a reminder that not every resurrection has to feel like a desecration.
In its lesser moments, this revival of Tomb Raider feels as ill-advised as that of the recent Tom Cruise vehicle, The Mummy. Neither brings anything new to franchises that would have better been left undisturbed for a few more years. Vikander is striking enough as Lara Croft to make the role her own, to banish memories of Angelina Jolie (and perhaps to justify further instalments) but the film itself is strictly by the numbers. [3/5]
After years of attempts, no one expects a video game movie to be high cinema. But if Tomb Raider wasn’t going to be great, I had at least held out hope that it would be entertaining. The allowance I was determined to give it was, unfortunately, not quite returned, and I left the theater wondering how soon I could rewatch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Director Roar Uthaug has gone for a more grounded Tomb Raider than we’re used to seeing, with an opening bike chase in London reminding us that this is definitely the real world, and one that doesn’t have much time for magic and mysticism. It does, however, have a lot of time for spectacular stunts – especially one scene starring a decrepit old plane and a waterfall – bad-ass action heroines, and a whole lot of tomb raiding. This film clearly aims to be the first in a new franchise, and, on the strength of this, it will be. [3/5]
Sure, it’s great that the movie cut the pinup poses and casual gun violence of the earlier films (Lara doesn’t even get her iconic automatics until the end). But it’s not enough to get rid of things; you have to replace them with something else. Like character. Or charisma. Or originality. The film has at least one good scare though. The last scene promises a sequel.
Since the genre of video games-turned-into-feature films has inflicted some real doozies on audiences, “Tomb Raider” towers above most of its peers by being merely OK. By any other measure, this is a saga of fits and starts, and we can only hope for smoother sailing if the film inspires the sequels it clearly hopes to engender.
But despite integrity in spades, Tomb Raider never unearths gold. Muddy and messy they might be, but only one of the feel-the-sweat, hear-the-breath set-pieces sticks in the memory (Lara negotiating a rusted plane that bridges a waterfall – a scene lifted straight from the 2013 game), and even that is cursed by the memory of the altogether more suspenseful trailer-dangling-over-a-cliff scene in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The story, meanwhile, is as dusty and cracked as an ancient treasure map, and for all the credibility craved by the filmmakers, they’re not above allowing Lara to outrun a spray of bullets on several occasions. [3/5]
Ever-dependable character actor Goggins, as the bored gun-toting psycho of the piece, gives the best performance in this derivative clutter of dizzying cliffhangers and over-kill chaos, which is essentially a puffed-up throwback to the B-movies of old – and even more of an Indiana Jones clone that the first two films put together. Higher in concept than in its execution, and saddled with the least surprising twist-ending that points towards a possible sequel, what you see is definitely what you get with this one. Many might just find that more than enough. [3/5]
Uthaug also manages to work in a few genuinely cool visual tricks, though the dialogue, from a serviceable script by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons is strictly standard; a mix of clunky action-movie exposition and winking Indiana Jones-style humor. The final revelation easily leaves room for a sequel, which has already been floated (Vikander herself has said she’d be honored to reprise it). Though that, of course, will depend on something far more unpredictable than any Death Queen: the fickle whims of the movie-going public. [B]
In the course of all this, Lara will undergo all sort of Indiana Jones-esque challenges and ordeals, a borrowing so casual and widespread that it’s easy to forget that it is actually derivative. There is hardly a stone surface anywhere in the film that will not grindingly reveal a trapdoor, a recessed panel, or a large metal spike – and all with a certain mysterious engineering that provides for a considerable amount of movement without a power source, in the much-loved and time-honoured manner. And throughout Vikander maintains a kind of serene evenness of manner. Blandness is Lara’s theme. [2/5]
It’s a shame to see the trend of poor game-to-movie adaptations continue with a character as great as Lara Croft. In this new Tomb Raider origin story, Lara’s singular drive to find her father falls flat because their relationship isn’t interesting, and that failure is compounded by a lackluster story and characters. The MMA-style fight scenes and her more adventurous action sequences do give Alicia Vikander a great chance to show off her physical prowess, but without a convincing motive, Lara comes across as shallow. A few interesting puzzles and death traps are too little, too late to save Tomb Raider from mediocrity. [5.5/10]
Tomb Raider sets itself up neatly for a sequel. Part II needs to switch gears and hone in all the crowd-pleasing thrills that come with an A-level adventure franchise. Think Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Marvel movies. Jumanji. Otherwise, the film should stay buried.
When all the one-dimensional supporting characters and familiar action moves fall by the wayside, the one thing left standing is Vikander. Slim and not tall, she doesn't cut the figure of a muscled powerhouse, but here she fully embodies physical tenacity and grit, along with absolute determination not to give in or up. The film strains credulity even for a vid-game fantasy by letting the leading lady recover awfully quickly from bad injuries, but other than that Vikander commands attention and is the element here that makes Tomb Raider sort of watchable.
“Tomb Raider,” let’s be clear, is hokum: brisk but derivative, a compendium of jungle-chase pulp spun into something stylishly watchable. Yet when a movie like this one is made with a semblance of the human touch, and when it gives an actress as alive as Vikander a chance to carve out a true character instead of just inhabiting a series of stronger-than-life poses, you walk out feeling honestly entertained rather than jittery with overkill. It’s something that shouldn’t be so rare: escapism that breathes.
On the whole, Tomb Raider doesn’t really take enough risks for it to be anything but deeply ordinary, but if it’s action you’re after and are more than happy to ignore its obvious shortcomings in the plot stakes, then you’ve come to the right place. A perfectly passable film which could have done with a meatier storyline, but let’s not hold that against it too much. [3/5]
At just under two hours Tomb Raider isn't long for a blockbuster but the clunky, exposition-heavy dialogue, flimsy characterisation and lack of any real peril means even this modest run time drags. Fans of the rebooted game might get a kick out of the gritty style, visceral action and Vikander's physical performance but as for breaking the curse of the video-game movie – that's one code that still hasn't been cracked. [2/5]
How ironic that real-life couple Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender unleashed dueling video game properties into the world (his was 2016's misfire, Assassin's Creed), and both ended up being marginally competent but ultimately muddled action thrillers that mishandled their game's central mythology and failed to launch a franchise -- even though launching a franchise was clearly the goal of both films. When it comes to movies adapted from video games, the argument always boils down to this, "Is it more fun to actually play the adventure, or is it more fun to sit in a theater and watch the game be played for you?" Tomb Raider, like so many films to come before it, casts a vote in the Play It column. [2/5]
Tomb Raider is a fragile narrative house of cards to begin with. The trip from London to a remote island almost makes a sort of logistical sense as characters convey the need to rush from points A to B to C. Pause to ask a few obvious questions and it starts to feel like dream logic. The grunty, superficially ruthless realism prized by the filmmakers needs something with more substance, a sturdy frame of 2x4s rather than a wisp of paper and a couple of missing dads. And yet the movie can always come back to Vikander, giving her all, projecting competence even when Lara is ill-advisedly impulsive or flat-out stupid. It’s a neat trick, and proves how difficult it is to write and perform that Indiana Jones-type character who succeeds almost in spite of themselves. The writing isn’t up to code here, but at least we’ve got a star who’s game.
Above all, everything in Tomb Raider is conspicuously and tediously functional. The film is relentlessly focused on giving Lara a background for all of her actions, using the opening M.M.A. practice to set up a later escape from a sleeper hold and providing flashbacks of a child Lara taking archery to establish her deadly accuracy with a bow. Then there are moments that translate video-game mechanics so literally that we see Lara do menial game tasks like use exposed beams as makeshift monkey bars for crossing gaps. This isn't an adaptation of a video game so much as an adaptation of a video game's tutorial level, and one that's capped by a climax that's as much about Lara discovering the climbing axe she uses throughout the game as it is dealing with the Japanese island's deepest secret. It takes a lot to waste a gift like Goggins in a villain role, but watching him play second fiddle to a disposable piece of gear is the final indignity of this interminable slog. [1/4]
When it comes to video games, I really enjoyed the rebooted Tomb Raider and its sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider. The stories aren’t amazing, but they’re good enough to carry along the gameplay of solving puzzles and shooting bad guys. But take out the gameplay and you don’t even have a Twitch stream where there’s at least spontaneity and skill. Instead you have a morose, bland adventure movie that simply falls into the ever-growing pile of bad film adaptations of video games. [D]
If you’re a diehard fan of the recent Tomb Raider video games, there’s likely something here for you. The movie admittedly does a serviceable job of recreating the look and feel of the recent game installments, even if it commits to the bit a little too hard at points — but if you’re not already bought and sold for either the nostalgia factor or the pre-packaged fandom winking, this is probably one you won’t be sad to skip.
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