I played the original Tomb Raider video-game all the way through (late '90's?) and absolutely loved it. I played a couple of the sequels, and though the series seemed lost for awhile, it looks like Square Enix currently has the franchise going in a great direction.
I so want the Tomb Raider movies to be great. But they just aren't. And that's so disappointing.
This latest version, starring the very talented Alicia Vikander, definitely has its moments. Warner Bros. took the film franchise over from Paramount, and gave the film a respectable $100M(ish) budget.
Vikander is a terrific Lara Croft. She's beautiful, she's tough, she's engaging, she's fragile when she needs to be. However, she isn't given enough on the page to work with. The general concept of the story is solid, but the execution, from writing to direction, is far too bland. Outside of some fantastic special effects (including an awesome ship crash), there's little outside of Vikander's performance to push this film into being something special.
This is a typical Hollywood rush-to-production-too-fast tale. Much of the casting was solid (though it's hard to see Dominic West on the big screen without thinking of him as McNulty). If the script had been given more time and money to further develop the story and characters, it could have been something great. But every aspect of the story feels like it was rushed. It's just all so generic. Add to that a bombastic over-the-top score, and it almost gets annoying in moments.
There was a simple choice to make at the beginning of this project: do we choose story over style, or style over story? Time and time again, with video-game film adaptations, the studios incorrectly choose style over story, and the project doesn't live up to its potential. Unfortunately, Tomb Raider (2018) suffers from this exact same error.
It's definitely not the worst Tomb Raider movie though, and it's actually better than most video-game inspired movies. The film has done very poorly at the domestic box office, but okay in the foreign markets, so hopefully, Warner Bros. is able to make a sequel with Vikander. But I would hope that they would choose a different creative team.
Lara Croft is an excellent character upon which to build a respectable movie franchise. Hollywood finally got the lead cast right. Now they just have to write a quality script and find the right person to helm the project. A strong female lead, huge cinematic concept, built-in audience of millions—what more can you ask for?