The curse of the video game movie; a much talked about topic in the recent past with ample movies based on computer games hitting theatre screens, but being universally panned led to this so-called ‘curse’. But has that been lifted?

Tomb Raider, a reboot of the previous Angelina Jolie starrer with Alicia Vikander taking over the role is more of an origin story for the female heroine. The film itself is based on the 2013 Tomb Raider game which was intended to reboot the game franchise. While the game was positively received, the film has received a mixed reception. However, seeing Vikander fill the boots of a role vacated by Jolie resulted in quite a refreshing take after the criticism leveled at the former when she was announced to take on the titular role.

Vikander brings the most depth and cinematic grounding to a film protagonist based on a video game that I have thus seen so far. From the beginning, the film has an Indiana Jones feel to it, but instead of the seasoned adventurer that is Tomb Raider what we get is the story of Lara Croft.

A three-dimensional young woman who comes off as impulsive yet soft at heart, searching for her missing father who went AWOL seven years ago, we instantly relate to the character’s psyche. Norwegian genre director Roar Utharg grounds the film in reality while exploring mysticistic legends such as that of Himiko, a legendary Japanese queen whose tomb Lara’s father, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West) went in search of in order to prevent an organization called Trinity from gaining their hands on it. Discovering a message left via a trail of breadcrumbs for her by her father, Lara sets on a journey to find out what happened to him. Solving various riddles and teaming up with Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), she ends up on Yamatai, an island in the Devil’s Sea. There she discovers Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) running a dig for Trinity and having taken possession of Richard Croft’s notebook, he finds the clues that point him in the direction of Himiko’s tomb.

Vikander’s portrayal of Lara as a girl searching for her father is what drives the entire film, the desaturated flashbacks serving as an emotional drive to the story. The entire cast's performances echo well throughout the film but I personally felt that Daniel Wu was criminally underused. Wu’s role is reduced to playing the drunk captain whose own father incidentally went missing while accompanying Lara’s. What struck me as weird was that the connection between Lara and Lu Ren should have been stronger and paid off at the end with Ren teaming up with her for future missions. But then probably the filmmakers have bigger plans.

The film ends with a cliffhanger, an obvious nod to the fact that they intend on milking this franchise as much as possible. Still, I would pay to see Vikander in the role once again, despite the somewhat cliche and generic storyline. Vikander’s transition from a dramatic actress to an action movie heroine echoed Lara Croft becoming Tomb Raider, a fact that was firmly cemented in her performance. The action in the film is superbly done with Vikander reportedly performing all her stunts by herself.

Has the video game curse been lifted? I’m not really sure. The film certainly could have improved in several departments but it was by no means another Assassins Creed. Will we see another Tomb Raider? Box office returns with time alone will tell. But Vikander’s performance alone is reason enough to go see this flick, so definitely go check it out.

Tomb Raider is now playing at EAP theaters and Liberty Cinemas.

By Akash Sk

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