Video game films are usually flops; they make you feel as if you’d rather be at home playing the game, rather than watching a character scrape through a level that you think you’d ace on the big screen. Blockbuster films like Assassins Creed and Warhammer are examples of studios hedging their bets on instantly recognisable series’, only for the films to be torn apart and mauled for even the basic of storytelling issues. One series that stood out amongst the rest almost 20 years ago was Tomb Raider starring, of course, Angelina Jolie. That film is still a classic today, marrying an incredible actress with a fairly bizarre but fun romp through a series of tombs and the supernatural – mirroring the game delicately.
Fast forward to 2018 and Alicia Vikander is in the driving seat of the new reboot of the series. Loosely based on the 2013 game (which I played, and loved), the protagonist starts off as a deliveroo-like courier, struggling to make ends meet but both headstrong and a dab-hand at MMA fighting, she powers through. It soon transpires that her father has been missing for years and Lara is in line to take over the company and all assets, with that accepting her father has been lost. A secret message here, a hidden lab there and Lara soon finds herself unravelling some of the mysteries that her father chased in secret. It’s a much different origin story to the original, and even the video games, but charges straight into the action and could have easily been a film about a headstrong young woman without the connections to the franchise. The locations and cinematography throughout paint Lara in a new light, giving her the contrasting backdrops of edgy Shoreditch and an ancient island to play with. It’s exactly what playing a video game feels like; exciting, boring in some parts, but overall worth it.
To excite you, you have some absolutely brilliant action scenes. It’s long enough now from the age of Indiana Jones and the original Tomb Raider that the booby traps feel different and suspenseful. To bore you, some of the pacing of the second half of the film. There’s also not much character development, especially in our main villain. The only reason he feels threatening is that he’s holding a gun, but that’s all you really need when you’re not taking a film too seriously. The overall part? It feels like a coherent story. You’re in with Lara for the ride, and although some of the story elements are a bit naff, it comes together to an satisfying end while also teasing the possibility of a future instalment. Props go entirely to Alicia Vikander for steering the stereotypical character towards a new, rawer form. It doesn’t necessarily scream feminism, but there’s definitely a sense of equality shared with other characters – it’s just a shame there’s only 1 other female that you could class as a main player.
Whichever order you play or watch the Tomb Raider franchise in, it’s a refreshing feeling to know that video game films don’t have to suck. Roll on the tricky sequel.
Check out the trailer below: