I went into Tomb Raider with low expectations, and I suppose I came out still with mixed feelings. But if anything, Tomb Raider was an improvement over the past films in terms of its plot and its portrayal of Lara Croft.
I thought the action scenes in general were ok; it did feel like we were just moving from one set piece to another, but I guess that sort of mirrors the Tomb Raider games, where we traverse from one obstacle to another. As a film however, these actions scenes sometimes delivered, but were also sometimes bland. I think it’s inevitable, given that pretty much the entire movie, or at least the last two-thirds of the movie, is one giant action sequence. In general though, I preferred the ones after they’d descended into the tomb, though I guess that’s to be expected.
I thought the twist at the end was nice; one I actually didn’t anticipate. I always love a good movie plot twist so that definitely redeemed some of the more questionable plot lines from earlier, such as when Lara runs off all of a sudden, equipped with only a bow, back to the place she’d just escaped from, which I found rather abrupt and devoid of strategy. I suppose the filmmakers wanted to make time for the most important scenes though, in the tomb.
I think a lot of credit also has to be given to Alicia Vikander for her portrayal of Lara. She certainly feels a lot more grounded than Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft; from the genuine looks of fear and pain in her eyes during the action sequences to her clear physical fitness that made the scenes more believable. I also liked how her character never exploits her sex appeal explicitly, nor is it a key aspect of her character at all, which I feel really helped keep me immersed in her character’s experience. I think usually, when films try to exploit a character’s sex appeal, especially in these blockbuster type films, it draws you away from that character’s individual experience because you know the film intends for you to look at them explicitly from the outside, and not the inside.
Also, the rendering of the father-daughter relationship was perhaps a little too sentimental and thus predictable, and I think the actions scenes didn’t quite have the intensity that you’d witness in the best action movies; she never really sheds the ‘invincible action hero’ thing entirely, making the stakes seem lower than they appear to be onscreen.