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Tomb with a View 

Vikander saves the day

Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft...ready to raid some tombs. - FILM TV
  • FILM TV
  • Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft...ready to raid some tombs.

I don't think I've ever had a video game spoil a movie for me. I've certainly read plenty of books that colored my enjoyment of their film adaptations, but video game movies are an entirely different beast. Terrible adaptations such as "Super Mario Brothers," "Street Fighter" or "Assassin's Creed" took just a few plot points from the games, spinning them into ridiculous (and usually boring) yarns that might give you the flavor of the game, without capturing what actually made them beloved in the first place.

The newest reboot of "Tomb Raider" is an almost beat-for-beat adaptation of 2013's "Tomb Raider" video game re-imagining, with bits of 2015's "Rise of the Tomb Raider" thrown into the stew. Gamers should have been careful what they wished for, since now we have evidence of what a faithful video game adaptation looks like. As much fun as the new film is, for those of us who have played the games, there are no surprises to be had.

Alicia Vikander takes over from Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, a penniless bike messenger who's chosen not to claim her massive inheritance after the disappearance of her father (played by "The Wire's" own Jimmy 'Dominic West' McNulty) seven years prior. She finds clues that he might have headed to the mythical island of Yamatai, searching for the crypt of Queen Himiko, who legendarily possessed the powers of conquering death.

Tombs get raided, ancient puzzles are solved, daddy issues are explored and Lara spends multiple action set pieces hanging off crumbling relics with one hand. It's like "The Da Vinci Code" if Tom Hanks had abs and a bow and arrow.

Vikander is perfect as Lara Croft, bringing a humanity to the role that was sorely lacking. Jolie's Croft never broke a sweat in her tiny shorts and tank top. Vikander's Croft bleeds and sweats and screams in pain, since the film is one part origin story, one part a somewhat "realistic" take on the material. I would watch a dozen more "Tomb Raider" movies just to see Vikander get to play with a story less constrained by the video games.

Director Roar Uthaug ("The Wave") reads his audience well by removing the male gaze of the games and the old movies while still making it feel like a "Tomb Raider" story. In the games, Lara was disproportionate to reality with a tiny waist and giant breasts that made the game feel like a toy for a teenage boy. The previous movies spent several minutes luxuriating over Jolie's body like she was water for a dying man.

Vikander is absolutely stunning, but the film doesn't sexualize her. She got completely ripped, sporting what looks like a 10-pack, but any lingering glances the film takes with her are always focused on her bravery, intelligence or adaptability. It's a refreshing change of pace that the film treats Croft (and by extension Vikander) like a real person instead of like a flesh and blood Jessica Rabbit.

While "Tomb Raider" has a few narrative dead ends and silly character choices, the film is mostly just a good, old-fashioned time at the movies. It doesn't necessarily break any new ground, but it treads the well-worn path with enough skill to remain consistently entertaining. Hopefully the next one will give Vikander something she can really sink her ice axe into.

Tomb Raider

Dir. Roar Uthaug

Grade: B

Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX, Sisters Movie House, Redmond Cinema


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