Tomb Raider Review: Game to Film
Tomb Raider is a 2018 action-adventure film that – much like its predecessors – is based on a Tomb Raider video game. The film is based on the tenth video game in the Tomb Raider franchise, which acts as a reboot that reconstructs the origin story of Lara Croft.
The film follows the idea of reconstructing Croft, however, deviates from the 2013 video game’s reform. From the first scenes of the film, this is clear to viewers who played the video game. Where in the game, Croft is found on a ship with university colleagues, in search of the lost Kingdom of Yamatai, the film places Croft in London where she rejects her inheritance and works as a bike courier. Later, the film reveals she did not attend university.
Fans of the franchise may feel that the change takes away part of the essence of who Lara Croft is. Particularly, as at the beginning of both the film and the video game, Croft begins the story untested and unlike the skilled tomb raider from other Tomb Raider titles.
The film gives a nod to the video game’s sea voyage and shipmates by sending Croft off, across the world to Hong Kong, where she enlists the help of a fisherman, whose father disappeared with her own seven years prior. The pair builds a connection over their lost fathers and set sail to an island in the middle of a treacherous sea that Croft had discovered their fathers last visited. The film follows the video game by shipwrecking and separating the pair.
Similarities between the film and the video game roughly end here. What’s left, include an escape scene with rapids, an old plane, and a parachute, make-shift pulling devices, satnav phones, one malevolent cult (the second cult in the video game, the Solarii Brotherhood, does not feature), a search for a sun queen, and Croft gradually becoming battle-hardened. Croft also gets to keep the bow and arrows, red climbing ax and outfit she dons from the video game.
The largest on-screen surprise comes through the discovery that Lara Crofts’s father, Richard Croft, is alive and has been hiding on the island, sabotaging Trinity, a malevolent cult, and Mathias’s plans.
Himiko, the ‘sun queen’, who featured in the video game waiting to be re-born, loses her immortality, her Stormguard warriors and her abilities to control storms, which had made leaving the island impossible in the game. The sun queen instead becomes a carrier of a deadly disease, who willingly entombed herself and her one-hundred handmaidens (not warriors) within the island.
Croft does get to raid one tomb, which she enters with her father and Trinity. After a series of deadly puzzles and fights, she crawls out of the now caved-in tomb alone. Re-joining the fisherman, the pair hijacks a Trinity helicopter and leave the island with shipwreck survivors.
Back in London, Croft accepts her inheritance and discovers a company she owns belongs to Trinity. She recalls her father telling her “Trinity is everywhere” and deduces they have infiltrated her company. The film ends with Croft purchasing her signature pair of dual handguns and preparing for her next fight with Trinity.
Although the film heavily deviated from the video game, Tomb Raider is a breathtaking, cinematic experience and is filled with the action and adventure the popular franchise is known for. Overall, it is a beautiful piece of cinema, with an ending that leaves the potential for a sequel to do better where the 2018 film failed.