Tomb Raider (2018) – In Cinemas Now

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99.9% of video game adaptations are unmitigated shite. Even the multi sequel Resident Evil films, are rubbish. Yet despite that they still have quite the following. Compare them to the source material however and they are appalling. Nothing like the games they were back when the first film was made and certainly not like they are now. Duncan Jones almost hit the nail on the head with Warcraft, but it’s just a bit too convoluted and dare I say dull, despite the vibrant colour palette. And the less you mention Uwe Boll, the better.

We’ve already been here with the Tomb Raider franchise, too. And looking back, it’s enough to give you a midlife crisis. Angelina Jolie’s take on Miss Croft was a mere 16 years ago, and half of the game series’ fans were probably just learning to walk, talk and not soil themselves. But that’s enough about teens in the early 00’s and what appears to be an early onset existential crisis about ageing. The Tomb Raider games have gone through several reinventions in that time, and more recently went the way of a gritty reboot in the last 5 or so years. Square-Enix has reinvented Lara Croft for a modern audience, and luckily Hollywood has followed suit. It’s easy to deride video game adaptations. I’d given up on them a while back, but here we finally have a worthy silver screen version of a game that not only impresses, but leaves you wanting more.

Alicia Vikander takes on the role of the famous Lara Croft, who when we meet her, is more interested in trying to make it on her own in London, than work for the family business. What that is exactly isn’t particularly clear, but seems to be something of a front for her dad’s globe trotting archaeological adventures. However, with her father being missing for several years, the company are pressuring Lara to declare her father as dead and to take on responsibilities at the company. This is where something left behind for her surfaces and gives a clue to her father’s last known location. This takes her halfway around the world to a mysterious island off the coast of Japan, where a shady company have been there for years trying to uncover an ancient tomb, with potentially apocalyptic consequences.

As the film starts, it’s clear that raiding any tombs is probably further from anything that Lara is interested in doing. She’s trying to make her own way in life, doing her own thing, and for the most part, seems to relish standing on her own two feet and looking after herself. In fact it’s probably one of the better character introductions seen in some time, with some fun action as she practices mixed martial arts (and suitably gets her arse handed to her), and has an entertaining cross-city bike race through the busy London streets. Once she’s at the mysterious island, and comes face to face with mortal danger, she really holds her own, as she gets battered around, be it by falling into river rapids, or going toe to toe with a rabid henchman. With the latter it’s quite bleak, as it’s a case of kill or be killed, and is probably the harshest moment of the film, but given what’s going on, she has to pick herself up and carry on. Once we finally see some actual tomb raiding, there’s some great traps and puzzles that wouldn’t be out of place in the games.

The film reboot of the game reboot is without a doubt the best video game adaptation we’ve seen. Alicia Vikander is outstanding as Lara Croft, giving an excellent performance, showing resilience when the odds are against her and showing she can do it better than most of today’s action stars, even putting Rambo to shame with that bow and arrow. The film is left open to more, and it will be a travesty if this is all we get. As far as a set up for a series goes, this is a great start and will only leave you wanting more by the time the credits roll. Hopefully a new precedent has been set, and big movie adaptations of games finally come in to their own. And with the fun looking Rampage around the corner, hopefully the trend continues.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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