Tomb Raider – Is There Any Craft in This New Lara Croft Movie?

MOVIE REVIEW – Rebooting Tomb Raider as an Uncharted-like/survivor horror in 2013 was a bold move from Square Enix, but it paid off. Lara Croft was truly reborn (not just rebooted), and on technical aspects, the developers also made a great job. Still, some die-hard fans were unhappy about the fundamental change the series took. We are now in 2018, and the movie also took some liberties with the original ideas and the 2013 reboot alike.


Liberty in art is something I deeply respect. That goes for adaptations too: it may be a classic book, a comic book, or – like in this case – a video game: if it is done well, why not represent something in a different, more modern way? Still, when it comes to video games adaptations, it is a different subject. We have seen so many badly made video game adaptations, which became a standard: if it is a movie based on a video game, it will suck. Still, with every new reiteration we hope that finally, a perfect adaptation may come. This Tomb Raider, unfortunately, is not the one.

It’s a kind of Lara

What was the reboot Tomb Raider 2013’s main premise is that the young Lara Croft is different since she is at just the beginning of her tomb raiding career. Of course, this loose adaptation is presenting us a different Lara as well, with an, who is physically at the farthest away from the classical representation of Lara Croft. That is a bit bothering, but what’s even more annoying for purist Tomb Raider fans, is what Lara Croft is everything ELSE. Indeed, besides being the future Tomb Raider, Lara is first a London pizza delivery heiress in the new film, a kickboxer who never knows when to quit, a bike racer who treats the mean streets as her BMX course. The beginning of the movie is in fact quite annoying, and it has hardly any connection to what the Tomb Raider franchise is.

That said, Academy Award granted Alica Vikander is a very capable actress and the way she plays her different Lara Croft is certainly entertaining. She’s just as far from the original Lara Croft (and even the 2013 one) as it is possible. If you are fine with that, you might truly enjoy her performance. (Besides her obvious beauty.)

Another take on an already different take

What’s also represented differently, is the main story, which – while officially based on the 2013 game – has few connections to it. Yes, Himiko is still the angry and evil long dead Japanese empress, whose body is hidden in a Japanese island, where Lara has to travel via a small ship. Yes, there are many small (but important) scenes or details, which are taken from the 2013 game to serve as fan service (like the way her stomach gets perforated, or when she jumps on the wreck of a WWII bomber which is about to collapse) but as whole this adaptation is quite different.

Gone are Lara’s friends from the game (all of them), we have the sympathetic, but a bit boring Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), as the ship captain, who sails with Lara to the Japanese isle and gets stranded.

Father Mathias: the main baddie and his Himiko-worshipping sect and army are also gone. Instead, we have a psychotic and cruel – but still rather bland – mercenary captain, Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins). His character is not unlike Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) from the Tomb Raider 2001 movie, and it makes him even less interesting, which is a shame since Walton Goggins plays the character well.

Also very much present in the movie is Sir Richard Croft (Dominic West), Lara’s missing (presumed dead) father. Played in 2001 by Jon Voight, Dominic West’s Croft isn’t bad either, but he has too much screen presence. Lara’s father was never meant to be more as Batman’s dad to Bruce Wayne: a source of grief and big shoes to fill in. I think that including Lara’s father while omitting her friends was a mistake from the script writer’s part. This dad-daughter relationship is pretty trite indeed and it does not help the story or the adaptation itself in any meaningful way.

Tomb Raiding indeed

All right, so I was all but bashing the movie so far, but I must confess, that there are some surprisingly good redeeming aspects to it. First, the script, as much as it fails to adapt the original game, is still a rather potent and gripping origin action-adventure story. It is somewhat more of a Tomb Raider-movie then the game 2013 game itself (much-criticized by some hardcore fans).

Second, Alica Vikander is a sympathetic and believable Lara Croft, even if physically she is quite… different. She is a great actress and managed the public to root for her.

Finally, there are some very well put-together, true Tomb Raider-like action scenes, which are not only true fan service but also very high on a cinematography level.

All-in-all I generally enjoyed the movie, and I would not say, that it is not true to its original Tomb Raider roots at all either. Just not to the 2013 one. Perhaps if it would stay away from the 2013 game, we might have a better origin movie…


Tomb Raider

Directing - 6.4
Actors - 5.8
Story - 5.5
Visuals (3D) - 6.7
Ambiance - 6.5



All-in-all I generally enjoyed the movie, and I would not say, that it is not true to its original Tomb Raider roots at all either. Just not to the 2013 one. Perhaps if it would stay away from the 2013 game, we might have a better origin movie…

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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