Tomb Raider 2018: One of the Best Video Game Movies to Date



With her new bow and arrow, Alicia Vikander takes up the mantle of Lara Croft, in a movie based on the 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider video game series.

Christopher Kathman, Staff Writer

Video game movies have had a bad run since the first live action release of “Super Mario Bros.” In 1993, which was met with a 15% on Rotten Tomatoes. No video game movie after that was able to meet the level of “good movie standards,” with one of the better video game adaptations, “Warcraft,” receiving  a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. Now, with the release of “Tomb Raider,” we may finally see an improvement in video game movies.

The original Tomb Raider movies, starring Angelina Jolie, got mixed reviews but are loved by some, and the fans were upset to see a new actress standing in her place. The original movies were based off the video games for the Playstation, while this new movie is based on the 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider game franchise.

The game took a more realistic and grim look into Lara Croft and her tomb raiding. Both the game and the movie followed Lara’s path after the disappearance of her father, who went looking for Himiko, the queen of the lost island of Yamatai. The game has Lara go searching for Yamatai on a boat named the “Endurance,” accompanied by Sam, whose family is descendants of the people of Yamatai and whose paying for the expedition. Roth, an explorer; Grim, the captain; Alex, an electronics specialist; and Whitman, a celebrity archaeologist down on his luck. In the film, none of these characters make an appearance, being instead replaced by Lu Ren, the captain of the “Endurance,” with a tie to Lara Croft’s past.

While Lara in the game is an archeology graduate who gets the opportunity to search for a hidden island, known as Yamatai, that housed a kingdom and a queen called Himiko, the sun queen. In the movie, however, Lara never went to university, instead opting for a life of food delivery and bike racing for money.

When Lara gets to the island, she encounters a man named Mathias Vogel, who leads a group named Trinity, who is in search of Himiko’s tomb. Mathias Vogel in the game, however, is the leader of the Solarii Brotherhood, a cult insearch of a woman to take over the power of Himiko. The game version of Mathias is clearly insane and has no problem murdering young women in “fire rituals” to attempt to harness the power of Himiko, the fire queen. The movies take on Mathias is just in it to open the tomb and take it back to his bosses at trinity.

One of the biggest elements of the game is the magical element, showing how no one can go in or out of the island without encountering a deadly storm. While the storm is still in the movie, there is not much of an explanation of it other than its just a storm to further the plot.

There is one point in the video game where Lara is threatened with death by one of the Solarii, so she is forced to kill her attacker to escape. In a plot point that is rarely explored in most video games or movies, she is torn apart at the fact she just killed someone, and it sticks with her throughout the game, and at other struggles where she has to make the decision to kill. In the movie, a similar altercation occurs. After the fight, she is visibly broken up about the life she just took, but gets distracted by someone moving, and the issue is never brought back up.

While there are many differences throughout the film, there are a few similarities between the games and this new iteration. She goes in search of the same island,  discovers the same myth that surrounds Yamatai, and, after she is stranded on yamatai, she is left in the same outfit that she wore in the game. Lara uses a camcorder in one scene, which played a part in the games. She also acquires several of her signature weapons, including her bow and arrows, climbing axe (which is a fan favorite), and her dual wield handguns from the original games.

With a budget smaller than the other Tomb Raider movies, there was bound to be some shoddy Visual Effects (VFX). There are scenes where she is running and jumping, and the jumps are utterly impossible and looks very artificial. But also because of the lower budget, they had to create real locations for some of the action set pieces, which added a level of realism over just having fully Computer Generated environments.

I believe this is one of the best video game movie adaptations because it stayed relatively true to the source material, while not feeling like it had to be the exact same. With dialogue that was below average, good performances and interesting twists, this movie is worth going to the theatres to see.