RATING: 3 out of 5
The rebooted “Tomb Raider” stars Oscar winner Alicia Vikander as the iconic video game heroine Lara Croft. The plot of the movie is actually based on the “Tomb Raider” game that came out in 2013. In the film, a teenage Lara’s eccentric adventurer of a father vanishes without a trace. After underachieving and aimlessly bouncing from one odd job to another for years, she comes across a video message from his dad and some of his research materials that might help her explain his disappearance. Determined to find her father, the clues will lead her to the treacherous island of Yamatai in Japan where she must investigate the ancient tomb of the feared Japanese queen Himiko.
Alicia Vikander has always been a great actress and I liked how she portrays Lara Croft in the film. Director Roar Uthaug was able to show both her vulnerability and tenacity. Hindi siya yung bida na laging magaling at hindi nasasaktan. (Although she’s still capable of handling injuries that would realistically kill most of us.) In fact, during the early parts of the movie we see her getting her ass handed to her in a boxing match. Seemingly unimportant, it actually gives us the impression that this version of Lara Croft is not invincible. She does make mistakes and when the stakes are high, these misteps can lead to disaster. So despite knowing that she’ll make it out alive, you still feel that lump in your throat during scenes where she’s in danger. It also greatly helps that Alicia Vikander, with her toned abs and muscular arms, looks the part. And despite the fact that she’s a very beautiful woman, her sexuality is never given focus which is actually refreshing. The film finds the right balance for her character which is very important for a story that relies heavily on its lead.
I haven’t played the “Tomb Raider” series extensively so I can’t comment on how Alicia Vikander’s portrayal compares to the digital version of Lara Croft and whether the movie lives up to the game. But I will say this, during the many action sequences in the movie, I found myself saying “parang ang astig nito kung lalabas yung ganitong eksena sa video game ah.” Turns out that some of these action scenes were actually lifted straight from the game itself. So I guess that says something, right? I also like how it stands alone as an action-adventure film that audiences unfamiliar with the source material will still enjoy. Because if there’s anything the movie does right, it’s those big edge-of-your-seat action sequences. Although it doesn’t really feature anything we haven’t seen before in other blockbuster movies, the film still provides us with that shot of adrenaline that we came for. Seryoso kung makita mo yung mga pinagdaanan ni Lara Croft mapapagod ka at magtataka ka bakit buhay pa siya. Parang kung ikaw yun malamang maglulumpasay ka na lang sa putikan.
That being said, I have a few problems with the plot which I can’t discuss in detail without spoiling the film. Pero may mga moments na iniisip ko “Talaga bang ginawa mo yun? Bakit parang ang bobo naman?” It suffers from the same tropes that movies from the genre often do. The hero is captured and forced by the villain to solve the puzzles for him and when he/she finally does, a shootout follows. Ilang movies na ba ang gumawa niyan diba? The villain, despite actor Walter Goggins best efforts, is pretty generic. He’s a promising foil in the beginning but soon loses his steam. In the end, he just ends up as one of the many obstacles that Lara has to contend with.
One of the things that players of video games like “Tomb Raider” enjoy are the many puzzles and mazes within the game. Minsan mas masaya pa nga yun kesa sa barilan at action e. That’s one thing that the movie doesn’t succeed in translating unto to the big screen and is a missed opportunity. In the “Indiana Jones” movies (tingin ko agree naman tayong lahat na si Indiana Jones ang “Michael Jordan” ng mga ganitong pelikula) we have Harrison Ford narrating his thought process so we feel like we’re actually there in the same situation he’s in. Through his acting and facial expressions, you get the impression that the wheels in his brain are actually turning as he tries to find a solution to his problem.
In “Tomb Raider”, we don’t get that with Lara Croft. We just see her tinkering with a puzzle and then the next thing you know, okay na! Solved na ang Rubik’s Cube! We’re supposed to just take it at face value that she’s good at solving these riddles without really seeing how or why she’s good at it. Kailangan mong makita yun e. That’s what supposedly sets her apart as heroine. For all we know baka kaya rin pala natin yang ginagawa niya diba? I wish the movie managed to show us why Lara is so good at what she does. There’s a flashback scene that shows her practicing her archery but that’s basically it.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 17 years since the first Tomb Raider movie starring Angelina Jolie came out. Can you imagine na may mga taong pinanganak nung taon na yun na nasa college na ngayon? Presidente pa si Erap nun, nakatayo pa ang World Trade Center, at magkakampi pa si Shaq at Kobe sa Lakers. The “Tomb Raider” movies with Angelina Jolie were so bad that it took the studio more than a decade to have the confidence to do a reboot of the property. If that’s the baseline we’re working with, then this “Tomb Raider” is far and away one of the best video game movies ever. Despite its flaws, it’s an enjoyable action-adventure film that serves as a solid start for a potentially long-running franchise.
TOMB RAIDER is now showing in cinemas.
All photos courtesy of WARNER BROS. PICTURES