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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews Tomb Raider (2018)

March 17th, 2018 by Amy O'Hurle Comments

Tomb Raider (12a/PG13)
Director: Roar Uthaug
Writers: Geneva Robertson-Dworet (screenplay by), Alastair Siddons (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West & Walton Goggins
Run time: 1h 58mins

Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.

The cute shorts, large bust and impossibly slender waist of the 90s video game heroine (and of the Angelina Jolie incarnation of Lara Croft) was iconic in my youth. Without getting into the wormhole of feminist issues regarding the masculine gaze, Lara Croft was undoubtedly a female heroine in a man’s fantasy world. So, when I heard that the mantle was being passed to the slight and serious Alicia Vikander, I was sceptical to say the least.

However, my concerns were unfounded.

This Lara Croft has been upgraded from an impossible sex symbol to a realistic but agile fighter. She is still supposed to be a total badass, proficient in kick-boxing and mixed martial arts, but Alicia’s Lara is no superhero: her humanity is emphasised in the pain of every punch, kick and bit of shrapnel buried in her abdomen.

This marked departure from its 90s origins is because the movie is a loose adaptation of the 2013 game-series reboot featuring a young Lara at the beginning of her tomb-raiding career.

The daughter of the disappeared aristocratic adventurer Richard Croft (played by Dominic West), Lara discovers a series of clues that lead to her father’s last quest: the search for the tomb of Himiko, a fabled Japanese Queen of Death whose remains lie on a mysterious island called Yamatai.

What ensures is an Indiana Jones-style romp through unchartered waters and treacherous terrain, featuring booby traps, deadly puzzles and a rival expedition headed by the psychopathic Matthias Vogel (played by Justified’s Walton Goggins) for the ominous-sounding Order of Trinity.

Transferring a beloved video-game franchise, already renowned for its cinematic effect, into a well-paced action thriller would not have been an easy feat, and the result is somewhat disappointing.

Where the player of the game is an active participant in the unfolding story, the movie did not have the sustained impetus to take its viewers along for the same kind of journey. The pacing was clunky in places as it attempted to juxtapose some rather soppy father-daughter relations with moments of video-game homage (such as Lara’s iconic one-armed grip onto a precipice) and action sequences.

Ultimately, Vikander’s portrayal of a more realistic, human Lara Croft stole the show, appealing, no doubt, to an ever-growing audience wanting realistic role models for young girls and women.

Yet, this action movie does not ram its feminist undertones in its audience’s faces, providing in some ways a female alternative to Indiana Jones for the 21st century. Unfortunately, for consistent action, it’s probably best to stick to Raiders of the lost Ark.

3 out of 5 Nerds

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Hi, my name is Amy. I’m a PhD candidate at Queen’s University, Belfast, researching education in interwar women’s writing. My raison d’être is reading and learning new things about how people perceive themselves in the world around them. As such, I love to interpret social and cultural histories and implications in everything from literature to films. I live with my husband, Mark - who is a very talented writer - and four very naughty but lovable cats.