Review: Lara Croft is back, looks like she is here to stay

 Illustration by: Megan Rowe

Illustration by: Megan Rowe

On March 16, 2018, the next installment of the "Tomb Raider" film franchise was released. “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” starring Alicia Vikander and directed by Roar Uthaug, is based off of the popular video game series "Tomb Raider", with its most recent game version, "Rise of the Tomb Raider", released in 2015.

Lara Croft is one of the most well-known and lucrative video game characters in history, receiving a Guinness World Record for the best selling video game heroine on March 22, 2017. According to James Batchelor, of gamesindustry.biz, the 2015 "Rise of the Tomb Raider" video game sold over seven million copies as of November 2017, ensuring financial security for the game.

The newest film in the franchise is everything fans would expect from a "Tomb Raider" movie. Its action-packed sequences show incredible human strength. With the unraveling of seemingly disconnected puzzle threads and a good chunk of badassery, "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider", is an enjoyable two hours of film for fans of the video game and newcomers alike.

The movie begins by introducing us again to Lara, working as a low-wage bike courier in London, boxing in her free time and struggling with the disappearance of her father, Lord Richard Croft. Lara starts to discover, through clues left behind by her father in a secret room beneath the family crypt, that he was not just a businessman as she had always believed but instead an enthusiastic adventurer, researcher and archaeologist.

Lara is eventually led across the world to a distant and uninhabited island, aided by her new sidekick Lu Ren, to uncover what truly happened to her father and to see what—if any—credence can be attributed to his mystical research. Through video and audio recordings, Lara’s father warns her of the dangers of his research surrounding the supernatural powers of Himiko, an ancient queen who brought terror and bloodshed wherever she went. With her father’s field guide in hand, she begins to search for the truth behind Himiko and subsequently the secretive militant organization known as Trinity, launching investigations that will ultimately lead her all over the globe.

There are several sequences throughout the movie where the director specifically referenced inspiration from the game as well as audio clips taken straight from the game itself. Most notably, an entire section of the movie was lifted from the game in which Lara is bashed around inside of an old rusty airplane and is forced to reach for an abandoned parachute pack at the last second to save herself from free-falling over a waterfall and into the rocks below. These throwbacks to the game will make fans feel pleasantly welcome in this fresh iteration of a old familiar character.

Hardcore fans will also notice large deviations from the plot of the video games in this movie, mostly due to the fact that the game spans approximately 12 hours of gameplay while the movie can only last just short of two hours. The same production company, Square Enix, who produced the recent video game also produced this movie, making the deviations in the plot noteworthy and also slightly jarring. The culminating video game plot surrounding supernatural powers and spirituality is lost in the film in favor of more realistic plot points that were presumably easier to film within the constraints of the real world. This trope has been used in other game-to-film adaptations, and works well for the film as a whole, although plot-purists may disagree.

This movie combines everything fans love about the video game version of “Tomb Raider”—the fast action, fighting sequences and brilliance of Lara Croft—however, some of the changes in the plot could have been avoided by utilizing the source material more effectively. This could have eliminated many of the complaints that hardcore fans have with this film and created a smoother story for all movie-goers to enjoy.

At the end of the movie, Lara returns home to the Croft Manor, and the director clearly sets up the framework for a sequel, if not an entire franchise. Hopefully, future movies will dive deeper into Lara Croft’s personality, personal life, and explore the source material further to create a more dynamic and cinematic plot. Fans of the “Tomb Raider” franchise need only wait a few more months until the next part of the video game series is released on September 14 of this year. Those interested, can find out more on tombraider.com.

 

CultureRebecca Kottke