Tomb Raider movie poster
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Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider movie poster

Tomb Raider Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

Tomb Raider is the best video game adaptation to date. That’s a profound statement, but one easily backed back the sorry list of films that Google displays when you search for counterarguments. When the Angelina Jolie-starring Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is the first match, it’s a simple reminder that Hollywood has failed miserably at turning video games into even semi-coherent movies.

Semi-coherent. Shortly before this new Tomb Raider began, my friend and I agreed that our expectations were low—if the movie boasted just some decent action and a semi-coherent script, we’d be satisfied.

But as the end credits rolled and Alicia Vikander was no longer gracing the screen, my friend and I also agreed that this highly entertaining action-adventure was not only the best video game adaptation we’d seen, but the best video game adaptation by far.

That might not be saying much, but Tomb Raider is a legitimately good movie.

It may not have amazing action scenes, but it has several solidly staged action sequences (a stretch where Lara has to escape from a rusted airplane on the edge of a waterfall offers plenty of thrills, and director Roar Uthaug, who last made the critically acclaimed Scandinavian disaster film The Wave, pieces together several other entertaining action scenes). It may not have an incredibly complex plot, but its straightforward, surprisingly grounded story is more than adequate. And while the characters may not be deep, Vikander is a terrific choice to play Croft—tough and beautiful, and who cares if she doesn’t have gigantic breasts—and Wolton Goggins serves as a formidable foe.

Tomb Raider is by no means perfect. Some of its set pieces, especially in the third act, bear an uncanny similarity to Indiana Jones—then again, Lara Croft is essentially a female Indiana Jones, so who cares? The movie also takes itself too seriously; a little more humor would have gone a long way. It’s hard to tell whether the movie tried--Daniel Wu, as a sort-of sidekick to Croft, appears to go for laughs at times, but his character falls flat more often than not.

Tomb Raider is entertaining, fast-paced, and the first video game adaptation that feels like it was made to be a good movie—not just a poor emulation. It’s not high cinema, but it was never intended to be.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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