Tomb Raider (6 out of 10)
"The fate of humanity is now in your hands"
If you're going to make an action-adventure film, one of the most important characteristics it needs to have is a sense of fun. No matter what the premise or plot, if the film doesn't incorporate a lot of humor, wonder, and many other moments that put a smile on your face, it failed to do what it should have done. Two of the best examples of this are actually in the same franchise: "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade." Without a doubt, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas realized that in order for their films of the adventurous archaeologist to be the most successful, they had to be a rollicking good time for the audience, and they were. Both critically and commercially, they were smash successes and forever ingrained in pop culture. All adventure films since then are therefore inevitably compared to them, especially Raiders, which has essentially become a template for the adventure genre, and not just for films, but also through other mediums, such as video games. One game that owes a great deal to the Indy films is Tomb Raider. First arriving in the mid-1990's, Tomb Raider told the story of the tomb hunting adventurer Lara Croft. While it had some unique twists on the genre (the most obvious being an overly sexualized, female lead character), it was essentially another variation on the Indiana Jones formula. After finding great success in the video game market, it spawned two films in the early 2000s with Angelina Jolie in the lead role. While the first one was moderately successful, the second one failed both critically and commercially, and the film series was canned. The video games franchise continued on, however, and essentially was rebooted in 2013 in order to give Lara a new backstory and also served to somewhat de-sexualize the character from her earlier incarnations. The game was a smash hit, and led to the recent release of a film adaptation.
Essentially a reboot of the film franchise as well, Tomb Raider has plenty of action and adventure elements, with big stunt sequences, chases, gun (and bow and arrow) fights, puzzles, etc. It also has a solid (if a bit unmemorable) performance by Alicia Vikander in the lead role. Unfortunately, what it doesn't have is what it needed the most: a fun and entertaining atmosphere. Taking itself way too seriously, I left Tomb Raider realizing I barely cracked a smile, or even internally got any real enjoyment out of the film. While well-made and solidly produced, it was a very by-the-numbers, stale exercise in action-adventure film tropes. In fact, the whole third act was a series of rehashed "Raiders" and "The Last Crusade" sequences, emulating the scenes while jettisoning much of the enjoyment those scenes brought. It does try at times, for brief moments, to be fun, but stays mainly in its all too serious state. Because of that, and because it doesn't offer anything remotely new or interesting, it's a film you'll leave and forget about 10 seconds after you leave the theater. It's a shame, because it had potential, but maybe this is a franchise better left to the video game medium. As for films, stick to those Dr. Jones classics. Never awful, but seldom fun or enjoyable, I give Tomb Raider a 6 out of 10.
- Ryan Zeid