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Sunday, June 24, 2018

The game comes to life in this cinematic experience

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Tomb Raider (2018) is a reboot film to the franchise, which once starred Angelina Jolie as the titular character of Lara Croft.  Alicia Vikander is the new, younger Lara Croft.  This film is heavily based on the 2013 videogame reboot, also called the survivor timeline, of Tomb Raider thus Square Enix is one of the companies that produced this movie alongside Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Bros and GK Films. 

The film is directed by Roar Uthaug and the screenplay is written by  Geneva Robertson-Dworet and AlastairSiddons based on a story by Evan Daugherty and Robertson-Dworet. The movie was released on March and has a similar premise as the 2013 game: Lara seeks out the island of Yamatai to learn more about what caused its demise. In this movie, Lara goes to Yamatai also to search for her father

Movie review


Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), a famed archaeologist, who has been missing for seven years. The time in the island strengthens Lara and she is slowly becoming the legendary Tomb Raider she is destined to become.

People have mixed reactions to the movie; some lauded it while others found it mediocre. I find that Tomb Raider is a good film, a good enough adaptation to the new games; however it does lose itself a bit in the parts concerning Yamatai.

The first arc is very well done - Lara is shown in the beginning to be in a boxing match. Lara loses but she is very lithe, muscular and well built, which is a bit different to Angelina Jolie's more voluptuous figured Lara but Vikander is more relatable.

Angelina Jolie's Lara was the reason why the games introduced family dynamics in the Tomb Raider game franchise. Before that, the Core Design original games did not necessarily show Lara interacting with her family. Lara was born into a wealthy family, which is canon in all incarnations, yet with variations.

In the first movie starring Jolie , Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), she becomes a world renowned archeologist to also find out what happened to her father and this is repeated in the first reboot of the games. In Tomb Raider: Legend (2006) Lara is an archaeologist like her father who is also invested as him to find out what happened to her mother.

This did not necessarily sit right with me, as I liked the fact that Lara was different from her parents in the original Core Design games. In the 2013 game, Lara has a bad relationship with her father, who we come to know had committed suicide because his reputation was ruined due to believing in the occult. Lara becomes an archaeologist to set her own mark.

In this film, it still somewhat works that she goes on to look for her father because it doesn't diffuse Lara as a person. In the game, it is Lara's own mission to find Yamatai and as this movie also added elements of Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015), which was the sequel to the 2013 game, it is her father who researched on Yamatai.

He tells Lara to destroy all of his research in his secret study via a video recording (elements from both the 2015 game and also Tomb Raider: Underworld released in 2008) because an organization named Trinity wants the power of Himiko, the ruler of Yamatai.

The first arc of the movie is very interesting because it shows Lara as a strong, determined young woman who makes a living as a bike courier. She has an inheritance but like the 2013 game is reluctant to take it.

In the game, it is because she doesn't wish to be associated with her father and in the movie it is because she doesn't wish to accept her father may be dead. I enjoyed they showed Lara's life in the city and showed her as a person who is strong willed but also a bit naive and reckless.

She is fast and pretty agile making her a very good opponent in battle. When she travels to Hong Kong, where she is robbed, the robbers have a hard time with her as she is relentlessly chasing them and able to track them down. Whereas Jolie's Lara exuded a lot of popular sex appeal and some eccentricity, this Lara exudes beauty and grit. 

This is where the movie and the games diverge. Lara still travels to Yamatai on a ship called "Endurance", which is Lara's theme in both the 2013 game and this film. However, she goes there with only Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), who is the ship's captain.

In the game, Lara must fight a cult known as the Solarii, who has kidnapped her best friend, Samantha "Sam" Nishimura.  She has her family friend and sort of foster father, Conrad Roth, along with her and a whole cast of allies. The chemistry between Lu Ren and Lara borders both on the platonic and romantic; they respect each other a lot and seem to become valuable comrades because they both lost their fathers to Yamatai.

However, Lara's sexual orientation is still kept unlabeled because she seems to flirt with the girl who she loses the boxing match to and also her close friend in this movie, Sophie (Hannah John-Kamen), seems to fill in for Sam.

As people who played the 2013 game know, Samantha and Lara are sometimes hinted to be, perhaps, more than friends.  We know Lu Ren likes Lara when he remarks that her father may have liked dangerous women as he chased after Himiko, implying Lara is also a dangerous woman.

The leader of the Solarri was a man named Mathias, who was desperate and willing to satiate Himiko's desire to sacrifice a woman carrying her bloodline so she may be reborn. Himiko could control storms and she doesn't allow anyone to leave the island, which is a remnant of Yamatai.

The narrative in the film is different, Mathias Vogel, shares some back-story with one of the prisoners of the Solarii, as in he has two daughters he misses, and is an agent of Trinity. He is still ruthless and has mercenaries kidnap people who are washed ashore on the island or are smuggled into it via human trafficking.

Mathias uses these people as human labor, enslaving them to backbreaking work and abusive conditions. Mathias Vogel is a fusion between Mathias from the 2013 game and Konstantin, the villain in the 2015 game.

Many of the action sequences of the 2013 game are transferred to this film, with some changes and mash-ups with previous Tomb Raider games. Lara does get injured a lot in the movie as she does in the 2013 game. The mythology concerning Himiko has changed a lot and I think this is what some fans understandably disliked about the movie. Himiko is reduced more to a phantasm than a deadly antagonist.

Mathias is reduced from a calculative person and a man bordering on insanity to someone who follows Trinity's orders to a fault, which even Konstantin didn't do. Ana Miller (Kristen Scott Thomas) is Lara's legal guardian like in the games and she is also presented as an ambiguous figure as the 2015 game. In this adaptation, it can only be assumed she was Richard's romantic partner but serves more as an employee of Croft's Holdings, the family company. 

One of the best parts of the film inarguably is Lara's chemistry with her father. They both look at the world differently and seem to prioritize things differently but ultimately come to an agreement. As the game, Lara's understanding of the world and her purpose in it expands by the end of the film.

She has become a testament to endurance and she can now become her journey being the Tomb Raider. Overall, Tomb Raider is an enjoyable film, which has something for fans and newcomers alike.


The writer is a copy editor at
The Asian Age

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