Tomb Raider: The (mostly) good and the bad

Published 12:31 pm Saturday, March 17, 2018

by Lauren Bradshaw

Good grief. I watched the original two “Tomb Raider” films this weekend and I didn’t remember how bad they are. Not only is the script ridiculous, but some of the filmmaking choices were a bit… problematic. Of course Angelina Jolie was an awesome action heroine and had some cool fight scenes, but the objectifying slo-mo body pans of Angie, silly supernatural story elements and the incessant shoot-outs got to be monotonous.

With Alicia Vikander’s “Tomb Raider,” you’re getting exactly what you signed up for: the perfect mixture of action-adventure and a nice upgrade from the original films. A true origin story of Lara Croft, this film rejects supernatural ridiculousness and instead focuses on a more realistic, entertaining adventure … well as “realistic” as a video game-based movie can get. Enjoy my list of the (mostly) good and bad moments from the film below and let me know what you think when you see it!

The Good

  • Alicia Vikander. I’ve been a huge fan of Alicia Vikander since I first saw her in “A Royal Affair.” But in “Tomb Raider,” she shows that she can pretty much do anything. Star in a period film? Check. Star in a romantic thriller? Check. Star in a cerebral, science-fiction classic? Check. Now she adds action film star to her repertoire. Of course, Vikander got to see a little bit of the action side of the house in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “Jason Bourne,” but in “Tomb Raider,” she is THE action star, appearing in pretty much every scene and kicking butt all by herself.
  • Realistic fight scenes. Speaking of action, I really appreciated that the fight scenes in “Tomb Raider” felt realistic; the filmmakers focused more on hand-to-hand combat than over-relying on guns as they did in the original films. Unlike other films, where characters are stabbed, shot, punched and still run around looking pretty unfazed, Lara and the other characters carry their wounds with them for the entire movie, which ultimately culminates in a pretty brutal final scene that leaves two characters :ahem: ailing.
  • No objectification. I was disgusted by the amount of slo-mo scenes and drawn-out close-ups of Angelina Jolie’s body throughout the original “Tomb Raider” films. It almost seemed like a joke. Yes, Angelina Jolie is one of the most gorgeous women in the world, but the voyeuristic, lingering camera was just gross. Not so in this “Tomb Raider,” which focuses more on practical outfits, and Lara’s overall toughness than icky close-ups of Vikander’s body.
  • Alicia Vikander’s abs. Yes, I was just talking about how awesome it was that the film didn’t objectify Alicia like the original films did. Yes, this bullet point probably is hypocritical. BUT GUYS, we have to give credit where credit is due. When they do show some shots of Vikander’s abs, I was shook. I didn’t even know abs like this were possible on anyone other than Ronda Rousey. And if I’m being honest, the scenes that show Alicia’s abs are more about shock and awe than objectification. The camera is just like “Yep, you wish you could prioritize working out over bread intake.”
  • No love interest. Another element I disliked about the original “Tomb Raider” films was the forced romance between Angelina Jolie and Daniel Craig, followed by Gerard Butler. Thankfully this “Tomb Raider” centers around the love between a father and daughter. And just like in real life, Lara had a bit more on her mind during her captivity and near-death experiences than, I don’t know, a boyfriend?
  • Walton Goggins. Goggins is an American treasure, elevating every movie/TV show he is in with incredible performances. Vastly underrated, Goggins is a perfect villain, who shows just enough of his background that you can understand his character’s motivations. The guy has been trapped on an island for seven years and is just trying to get back to his family.

Of course he’s a monster, enslaving people and shooting those that he thinks are underperforming, but it’s easy to see how a man like him could go crazy in this environment and, when shown the light at the end of the tunnel, will stop at nothing to get the heck out of there.

  • The “curse.” I’ll try to skirt around spoilers here, but I really enjoyed how they handled the big action set piece in the third act. Reminiscent of “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade,” minus the supernatural elements, “Tomb Raider’s” final reveal is just realistic enough to set it apart from some of the other films in the action-adventure genre.

Especially with the more ridiculous track record of the first two “Tomb Raider” films (e.g. stone monster attacks), the mystery of Himiko may make you consider pulling up Wikipedia to see if this legend really exists… I :ahem: didn’t do that, though.

The Bad

  • Mid-movie lull. As fun and entertaining as the film is, there is about a 10-15 minute lull midway through the movie that could have easily been cut out. It’s never a good sign when I grab my phone to see how much longer we have, but thankfully “Tomb Raider” quickly reinvigorates the action and I lost track of time again.
  • Dominic West’s Wig. No spoilers, but when you see it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. No, just no.
  • My jealousy. As if I wasn’t jealous enough that Alicia Vikander is living MY best life, now she gets to star in “Tomb Raider,” rocking her abs of steel and, you know, STILL MARRIED TO MICHAEL FASSBENDER. Rude.

My Review: B

LAUREN BRADSHAW grew up in Courtland, graduated from Southampton Academy and doubled-majored in foreign affairs and history at the University of Virginia. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area and can be reached at