Skip to main content

Tomb Raider

Director: Roar Uthaug
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu

Adapting a video game series into a feature film is a puzzle Hollywood hasn’t figured out yet, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying. Right from Super Mario Bros. to Street Fighter, the list soldiers on, and the upcoming line up includes the Dwayne Johnson-starrer Rampage, Sonic the Hedgehog and Uncharted. But Tomb Raider is a different ball game altogether. For starters, the game was already adapted into two live-action films way back in the early 2000s. And those films, starring Angelina Jolie in the lead, were successful at the box office despite being panned by critics. What about this new Tomb Raider starring Alicia Vikander, you ask. What does it have to offer?

The new film, a franchise reboot, is actually an origins story. Unlike the previous Tomb Raider films in which the story of Lara begins after her father’s disappearance, this one is about a younger Lara who still hasn’t come to terms with her dad’s exit from her life, and hence, refuses to inherit her family’s wealth. So, obviously, there aren’t any high-tech gadgets or posh chateaus. We don’t even get to see Lara donning the designer costume that outlines her hourglass figure. Instead, we have Alicia Vikander showing off her chiselled abs and her acrobatic skills.

Being an origin story, director Roar Uthaug makes it apparent that the courage and swag that Lara Croft is often associated with didn’t come about in a day. There’s a scene in which she loses an MMA match, and another where she makes her first kill and takes her time to comprehend what she has done. Uthaug also takes care not to over-sexualise the lead character — something the games and the first two films were criticised for. This leads to Lara being a character whose gender doesn’t add to or take away anything from the film.

Though Alicia Vikander sports enough brawn to do the next Rocky film, the problem is she often comes off as cold and stiff — a complaint, interestingly, her partner, Michael Fassbender, received too when he played the lead role in Assassin’s Creed, another film based on a video game franchise. The father-daughter angle is riddled with cliches, and feels outdated and out of place. If you’re a Tamil film fan, you’ll think that her character, which spends more than half the film looking for her missing father, isn’t too different from Andrea’s character in Aayirathil Oruvan.

We also have the stereotypical villain in the form of Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins), who seems like Indiana Jones gone rogue. With the Illuminati and Pandora’s box from the previous Tomb Raider films feeling overused, the makers have resorted to a new group of baddies — Trinity, a shadowy organization. The action sequences, though occasionally feeling unreal — in one scene, there’s a dilapidated aircraft placed precariously (and precisely) on a waterfall that saves our hero from falling to death — are fairly enjoyable, and Vikander really thrives doing them.

Tomb Raider takes its sweet time to get rolling, and only when Lara is actually in the tomb, does the film finally shift gears. With the puzzle solving, falling floor tiles and ancient tomb with a scary secret, the last twenty minutes are what make you feel like you’re watching a Tomb Raider film. The post-climax scene makes it obvious that the new Tomb Raider, too, will take the franchise route, and what we have in store for the sequel actually looks more promising than this film.

Rating: 2/5

PS: This review was written for the cinema wing of The New Indian Express.


Popular posts from this blog

Vijay and Vijay Sethupathi shoulder a mediocre film: Master Review

A flawed protagonist and a powerful antagonist have always proven to be successful tropes in the world of cinema. The hero, when being anything but perfect, makes way for a beautiful story arc as he convalesces and a strong villain makes the hero’s triumph at the end larger. Despite having both of these, Vijay’s Master feels far from a perfect flick thanks to succumbing to irregular pacing and a middling screenplay. Master follows the trials and tribulations of JD (Vijay), an alcoholic college professor whose valiant effort towards the student community plants a belief in his colleague Charu (Malavika Mohanan) that he would be able to do the same to the kids in a juvenile correction centre that needs… correction. Armed with a just kada, a classic four-wheeler, a Persian cat and a cool pair of sunglasses, JD embarks on a journey that will collide with that of Bhavani’s (Vijay Sethupathi). On paper, Master looks like a failproof star vehicle – the story of a man out there to teach lesson

Icon Residency, Wayanad

During one of my solo bike rides from Chennai to Coorg, I took a detour to check out Wayanad and since Coorg is just a few hours by road from there, I decided to use the small town also for a layover. A quick search told me about the limited options this tourist location has and as I was all by myself, I didn’t mind taking a risk by choosing whatever has a decent rating. iCon Residency in Kalpetta had some really good reviews and in no time, I was in Kerala via Bangalore.  iCon Residency is located on National Highway 212. Though the direction on Google Maps is accurate, finding the place was quite a challenge as it’s located past a narrow street. The hotel looks brilliant from the outside in total contrast to the otherwise old town. There’s also a decent parking space. The basic room I opted for is small when compared to average rooms but for a solo traveller, it was cosy and perfect. The bed

Spago Inn, Mahabalipuram

It was yet another trip to Mahabalipuram and if you visit the famous tourist town as much as I do, you should be knowing that unless you’re a tourist, it’s better to stay from the centre of the city. A quick search told me that Spago Inn, a considerably new property has made its way to ECR, right at the entrance of Mahabs. I had also seen it, right on the main road, during my regular drives down that brilliant stretch of tarmac. The town is famous for pocket-friendly options making it perfect for a day’s retreat and Spago Inn too fits the bill.  Unlike most of the properties in Mahabs, Spago Inn has a car parking space, enough for more than half a dozen four-wheelers. The room is compact, similar to most of the properties in that price range but ticks off all the basic boxes one would expect. The place is extremely clean and neat. The linens were tidy and so was the bathroom. The bed was comfy too and it was perfect fo