Tomb Raider **1/2

A fantastic performance by Alicia Vikander is just enough to breathe new life into this “Tomb.” 

Is it worth $10? Yes 

Five years ago the Tomb Raider video-game franchise was rebooted with the release of “Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.” The game began what would be a trilogy of games telling Lara Croft’s origin story and chronicle some of her first adventures. The release of this film marks the cinematic reboot of the franchise that once starred Angelina Jolie. The story of the movie borrows heavily from the 2013 video game reboot, including plot points, characters, and entire action sequences. However, the one thing from the game missing in the new movie is the excitement. This is not a bad movie, but it is a bad adaptation.

In the movie, Lara Croft discovers mysterious notes left by her father that spur her into action to continue his quest to prevent the spread of a world-ending catastrophe. This leads her on a boat ride into the Devil’s Sea where she shipwrecks on the lost island of Yamatai, at which an ancient Japanese empress, Himiko, is said to be buried. But an evil organization is also on the track of Himiko and are willing to use deadly force and slave labor to reach their goal. No more generic, color-by-number plot could have possibly been created.

The primary reason that the film is not terrible is the amazing portrayal of Lara Croft by Alicia Vikander. Rather than Jolie’s super-sexualized, near inhuman super-hero, Vikander brings a strength and vulnerability to the character that heightens the experience. We know she is going to get out of every situation but her peril does seem direr so the audience is lulled into the sense that she may actually not escape. That said, she heals supernaturally fast (a potential callback to the game) so her injuries don’t take her out of action long. This is forgivable only because of how believable Vikander is. The rest of the cast is uninspired and unremarkable, particularly the villain, Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins). This is Vikander’s show through and through.

The video game callbacks are a part that will make the movie both fun for fans and overwhelmingly infuriating. In are Croft’s iconic pickaxe, bow and arrow, exploding barrels, and excessive climbing, out is the actual joy of exploration and tomb raiding. In fact, it isn’t until the third act that a tomb actually comes into the story. For an origin story, this is understandable but perhaps the story would have benefitted saving the tomb raiding for the sequel. Such little time is spent in the tomb that the set pieces and puzzles that are the hallmark of the series are compelling yet underdeveloped. But to rush faster to the tomb would have meant sacrificing the excellent first act that established Vikander’s Croft as a vastly different character than the one audiences have seen before.

When the action ramps up on the island is also strangely when the pace of the film slows. The violence is gratuitous, which fans of the game should expect, but what they may not expect are shot for shot remakes of sequences in the game. This lack of originality may not bother those who haven’t played the game, but for those who have the laziness of the filmmakers is glaring. At least it doesn’t try to force first person point of view on us as many video game adaptations do. Even still, the action is unoriginal and, regretfully, unexciting.

Ultimately, “Tomb Raider” is not a great movie but it does have some interesting points to make. The biggest credit to its existence is the portrayal of Lara Croft as a strong yet vulnerable, resourceful young woman. Should the franchise move forward with further installments, the groundwork has been laid for what could be a great starrer for Vikander. The current film, however, suffers from an unoriginal plot and many copied and uninspired action sequences. It’s not bad enough to skip, but it’s only just good enough to make the prospect of a sequel even more exciting.