The Tomb Raider film really sold something else in its pre-release marketing (really encompassed in this ridiculous Lucozade ad). They certainly made some…choices for this version of Lara.
It all begins with Lara is getting beat to a pulp by a female opponent in the ring while being supported by a female friend (an important point for later). Female here is important because any other speaking parts that involve women only happen twice more. At a later part a woman utters a few words while scolding her son for not asking Lara out (because remember she is a desired woman) and you also have a woman in the pawn shop who scolds her partner for flirting with Lara. Then you have Ana, if you’re a fan of the series you know the deal with her. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t take their cue from Rhianna Pratchett’s reboot iteration where Lara embarks on her expedition with a group, including her friend Sam.
I forgave them for leaving Lara alone with new character Lu Ren with whom she could bond with over their combined daddy issues (I will probably get into this later). Cool. Lara would probably have to navigate the island alone and solve the mystery of the island herself. I mean that is what happened in the new game and she had way more people with her to find and save at the same time. In the older games she is also a lone wolf. That’s not what Lara does though. She actually spends very little time alone in this film once she reaches Yamatai. For some reason the executive reason was made to feature the main antagonist way more than he should have been featured. The film should have been renamed Tomb Guide as she ends up spending a good chunk leading Vogel and his team to Himiko’s tomb.
Which I find odd because the decision was also seemingly made to not have Lara occupied as an archaeologist, just a food courier. In a chat with (spoiler) she also reveals that she never went to university. Her puzzle solving skills rely on the fact that her dad always had puzzle things around the house and the fact that she studied some of his notes before losing them. This brings me back to the “being beaten to a pulp in the beginning” point. The film of course went with the torture porn aspect that features heavily in the game reboot and Lara has her fair share of being impaled, pinned down and punched in the face. I just don’t understand why they would give her the tomb raiding skills in this origin story but not the fucking shit up skills. I know which of these was shown she was actively working on in the start, and in flashbacks (spoiler it was fighting and archery).
I was so frustrated because the few scenes that were ripped straight from the game and any action scenes were so good. Lara escaping the ship, trying to get to safety when she landed on an old rusty plane, using the parachute to get to safety are all examples of this. Although she definitely hit more branches using the parachute than I was allowed to in the game (rude). There definitely was not enough of her using her skills to survive. Instead we got Vogel and his bros and the huge fixation on Lara’s dad. After what felt like the 50th flashback of her dad saying he had to leave her I was over it. We get it. No dad. Maybe there was a mother once who knows she is mentioned once maybe. If only the dad thing was confined to the flashbacks too because yikes that was a hangup for the whole thing. I don’t think even Bruce Wayne is that obsessive about his parents.
There were nice nods to the Tomb Raider franchise (the best being the end scene) and the action when it was there was great. I just do not get why they spent so much time on Lara’s dad and Vogel. It is like they had all the tools to explain her interests in visiting Yamatai by, I don’t know, simply making her an archaeologist following in her father’s footsteps. I just do not understand the fixation on making Lara broken. I understood her when I was doing something as redundant as locking her butler in the fridge so why do I need a tragic backstory (the only tragic thing being how drawn out it is) to justify why she does what she does?
Let Lara live.
Worth having a look at though all the same if you need something easy and fun. It could be way worse.