(♡ ♡ ♡)
As someone who is a massive fan of the Tomb Raider series in all forms (the video games, the movies, and even comic books) I knew immediately that I was going to love this film no matter what, because Lara Croft is honestly the best action-adventure heroine that transcends all mediums and has been a huge part of my life since I was a kid. So I knew that, for better or worse, I was going to watch and support this movie. And of course I came out of the theater absolutely loving it.
This film is based on the 2013 reboot of the video game franchise, showing some similarities and paying homages to the entire franchise through many scenes, but it is in itself its own origin story of Lara Croft, so it's not a complete retelling of the video game but more taking certain aspects of it and remaining truthful to that origin story while still doing its own thing. Her journey in this film is about self-discovery and about moving forward, since we see her refusing to sign papers to inherit the Croft mansion and legacy because it would mean that her father, who was last seen seven years ago, was actually dead, something she didn't want to believe. But following the clues and puzzles left behind by him, she discovers there is more to his work, and more to what their family has been tied into, than she originally thought and decides to find out for herself what really happened to him by following in his footsteps. This is where her journey begins.
What I loved about this film was how it truly was an origin story of showing us how Lara Croft ends up becoming who she will eventually become. We see the family legacy, we see her motivation of wanting to find her father, of uncovering the truth, and we see that she is truly a survivor and headstrong and unrelenting to anyone.
Alicia Vikander's performance was phenomenal. She provided a lot of things to make her feel very human despite the extraordinary and impossible circumstances she was under. We are shown that Lara is strong and capable along with being vulnerable. She isn't invincible, she isn't immune to being seriously injured, and we see her getting beaten up and bruised many times throughout this film. Yet she prevails, because she is a Croft and that is how she was brought up to be, that is in her blood. She doesn't give up, she doesn't surrender. She finds alternatives, she finds a way around a problem, she thinks quickly. From the very start we see how she has a knack for being an adrenaline junkie, living for the adventure, and for solving puzzles, something she does naturally, and I love how it all comes back around for when she is actually going on a dangerous adventure and bringing those skills that we saw earlier in the film into use for life or death situations.
Something that really pleasantly surprised me about this film was that, aside from it being centered around Lara's self-discovery and understanding the path in life she ends up choosing for herself, it was also a father-daughter film. I didn't expect Lara's father to actually be alive, only to be featured in flashbacks. So when she finds him alive on the island and they actually solve puzzles in the last act together, being a father-daughter team, it was so great. Granted, I knew he wasn't going to survive to the end, since it would've defeated the purpose of Lara moving onward with her journey, but when that time came I actually didn't want him to die. I wanted Lara to save him and return them all home and make up for lost time. That's how their relationship affected me. To the point where I just want all the fix-it AUs, where her father doesn't get infected by the deadly disease and she saves him and they get off the island and return home and she still is able to do her adventuring and go on this path, because damn, did all of that hit me right in the feels.
Other notable moments in the film:
** Daniel Wu was amazing in this film as Lu Ren, though I do wish there was more of him featured in it. I'm happy he didn't die, because that was my worst fear that the movie would kill off Asian characters, but thankfully it didn't and even featured a lot of them. Should this become a movie franchise (please, please, please do!) I want him to reprise this role because I liked chemistry and bond built between Lu and Lara, and a part of me kinda wants to see them get together sometime in the future. I'm glad nothing romantic happened in this movie because it wasn't about that, but I can see there being a slow-burn from a friendship to a possible relationship which is what I live for, so y'know. Now that Lara has someone she can call an adventuring partner considering what they both went through and they survived, I can see this possibly going somewhere.
** Speaking of, I liked that Lara did have the affections of two Asian men in this film, the East Asian young lad in the beginning of the film and Lu Ren.
** The beginning of the film reminded me a lot of Dark Angel, with Lara riding around on her bike in the neighborhood she lived in similar to Max riding her bike around Seattle, and sharing the jobs of being a courier as their main source of income, of course.
** While completely different from the game, I liked that with the Himiko plot didn't revolve around something supernatural but instead had the mythology be grounded in reality. Because that's how things often are, stories that feature magic from thousands of years ago often are things that can be logically explained with today's knowledge and understanding. Himiko wasn't some witch who could curse others to death with the touch of her hand, but was a carrier of a deadly disease who accidentally infected others when they touched her. But of course, this wasn't known then so they believed it to be evil magic and therefore, believing that she was cursed, Himiko sacrificed herself so nobody else could get hurt. I thought that was very well done.
** Seeing Lara's vulnerability is something I will never get over, because she is a survivor and she is strong and able to take care of herself, but she is still human, and seeing her witnessing the horrific things while on that island, from watching someone getting killed right in front of her in cold blood to actually having to kill someone in self-defense for the first time, it was really effective. I love how Alicia really showed her humanity in these moments, how Lara was afraid and uncertain how to proceed yet remained resilient at the same time. It is possible to have your heroines be vulnerable while still being badass, which many filmmakers and writers tend to not always get. And this is an origin story, where Lara isn't used to doing these things on the regular, so it was very believable that while she was taught and has trained most of her life she was never placed in a position where using those skills and techniques were necessary for her survival until now, and it shows and we see her growing stronger and more confident by the third act in the film.
** Just all the stunts and fighting sequences, and knowing that Alicia Vikander trained so hard to get into physical shape to be able to do most of them is remarkable to me. The fact that she got a lot of early hate because people thought she was too "thin and petite" to actually be an action star is astounding to me, well, y'all have been proven super wrong because she killed it in this film.
Overall: I loved this film. Absolutely, wholeheartedly loved and adored it. I knew I would, though, because it's Tomb Raider and Lara Croft is my girl. I'm so happy that they did her character justice, her origin story is beautifully tragic and amazing and I honestly, truly want this to become a movie franchise. I want, like, five or six films with Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft and continuing her journey because they did leave it on a nice sequel hook, with Trinity and the connection of everything with her family name, and I just want to see more of her (and Lu Ren) going on adventures trying to figure shit out. I just want more. Please, make this a continuing franchise, I want and need it with ever fiber of my being. Alicia was phenomenal in this role and I want to see more of her.
Also, as a sidenote, I wish people would stop making comparisons and trying to pit Angelina Jolie and Alicia Vikander against one another for who was better. They have both played Lara Croft in their respective roles, and they both did an incredible job. There should be no competition between them whatsoever. You can have you preferred version, but there is room for any and all versions of Lara Croft, and I loved both these women and what they did with their roles.
Along these lines, last month also gave us a teaser for the next upcoming Tomb Raider game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which will be released later this year. I still have to get my hands on Rise of the Tomb Raider and finish the first game, but nevertheless I'm excited.