I spent all weekend ill in bed. It was an utter waste of a weekend, and I'm pissed about it. I spent Thursday night, all of Friday, and most of Saturday in bed with a fever. Sunday I was feeling a little better. I woke up late, staving, wanting popcorn. So, a friend and I went to the flicks and watched Tomb Raider. I have thoughts, people.
My Quickie Review
That said, this is a great action film, and Alicia Vikander is a brilliant Lara Croft. On it's own it's great fun. It's a really good adaptation of the game.
I'm just salty about a few things.
My Longer Review
Like the game, Lara heads off to the lost island of Yamatai, where queen Himiko has been squirreled away hundreds of years before.
The action was spectacular, and so reminiscent of the game that it had me grinning in several places. From the way Lara was dressed (compare the posters of the film and the game. They got it spot on.), to many of the action set pieces (the collapsing WWII plane and the subsequent parachuted fall), they grasped the feel of the game so very well.
They also included Matthias, who in the game had styled himself into the leader of the Solarii Brotherhood - a militarised cult determined to restore the storm queen (Himiko), considering it the only way to get off Yamatai. In this incarnation, though, he's an employee of Trinity (a shady organisation; a proxy, I think, for the Illuminati from the 2001+ films... though it might make an appearance in the Rise of the Tomb Raider game (I've yet to play that one)).
That's more or less where the similarities end; the same queen (though given different titles. In the game, she's simply the Queen of Yamatai. In the film, she's the Mother of Death), the same location (Yamatai), the same human antagonist (Matthias) and even the same boat name (the Endurance).
And can I just say I loved how Lara was portrayed in this film? In keeping with what I loved about her character in the game; she was tough, but not immortal. She wasn't immune to the danger she faced, or the horrors of necessity. She kills a man, and behaves believably afterwards. She feels fear. She gets hurt. She expresses frustration and disbelief. She screams, cries, and does things that seem real to me. There was one thing that had me giggling, and it was the same thing that made me giggle in the game; after that glass shard in her side, and all that rolling around in mud and whatnot after, it only takes one treatment and a good night's sleep for her not to feel the wound at all. It happened pretty much in game as well, and it was still silly. That said, the film was good enough that I let it slide.
While everything was so brilliantly done, the film left out the three things I most wanted to see brought to life.
The biggest was the power of friendship, as corny as that sounds. One of the reasons I adored the game so much was that Lara went through absolute hell; scaling impossible rock faces, falling down waterfalls and parachuting into forests, facing the immortal Samurai-like Stormguard, and mowing down armed men, and facing a psychotic, scary man, all to save her friends (particularly, Sam). It touched me on a deeply personal level, because friendship means the world to me. Finally, here was a narrative that showed how important friendship was, and a heroine who would endure heaven knows what for the sake of friendship.
The movie did not have this important narrative. That dimmed its shine a little for me. That narrative meant a lot to me.
Thankfully, however, they didn't throw in a stupid love narrative to replace the friendship theme. I might have hated the film if they did that.
The movie also did away with the supernatural element. This disappointed me. I can understand why they might have done so, but one of the points of the game was that Himiko was looking for a new vessel so she could rule again, and Lara was the only one of the crew of the Endurance who would even consider this as an option... and she ended up being correct. That was as much about learning to believe and trust in herself as it was about the fun of the supernatural. But honestly, without the supernatural elements, Tomb Raider is just a female Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series. There is room for both, I suppose, but the supernatural elements really helped set Tomb Raider apart. That's gone. I'm not thrilled about it. Unlike the earlier attempts at adapting, the film was good enough that it would have supported something supernatural.
It also meant that the film missed out on some of the more horror-like elements that had me sweating bricks while playing.
Lastly, my favourite character from the game was entirely absent. Conrad Roth was such a brilliant part of the game, and I loved him so very much that I'm really quite salty about him not being a part of the film. That tough northern bastard should have been there, not least of all because his inclusion in the game provided a touching provenance for Lara's dual pistols. I adored how Lara came to acquire those pistols, even if it did break my heart at the same time. Narratively speaking, it was beautiful.
They did away with all of that in this movie, instead tacking on a scene at the end that would be better placed with the shoddy hyper-tacky adaptations from the 00's.
That made me grumble.
I loved Roth. I was excited to see him on screen. I did not get Roth.
I am sad.
The action was spectacular, and there were plenty of tense moments throughout. Matthais in the film was as psychotic as the game Matthais, and I enjoyed that.
Also, Alicia Vikander's abs are life goals for me. It was nice to see an on-screen Lara Croft that looked as capable as game Lara Croft; she looked like she could pull her body weight around and throw a punch that could do some damage.
Despite the film leaving out the things that I best loved about the game, it was a solid film, and I'm really glad I watched it. I do recommend it.