Tomb Raider (2018) Review – It’s good… but does that matter?

Hey all!

I think I’m doing it…. I think I’m getting back into blogging.

Not because the world needs it. Not because you need it.
Because my narcissism has grown too powerful to keep at bay.

But really what I’d like to do is connect with you people of the internet. What better way than talking about movies? So I’ll be doing some micro reviews and other short content, because I’m far too busy (drunk) to bang out essays on here. I plan on these reviews being more self reflective than anything else, but I guess that can all depend on the movie, right? I have some further “announcements” to make at the end, but forget about all that for now. Without further ado, my review of Tomb Raider (Minor spoilers).


I liked Tomb Raider. It’s a fun, exciting movie. I just don’t think that will matter much.

What I mean by that: whether the movie ended up being good or bad, Tomb Raider was not a great bet for the current movie-going climate. And it certainly wasn’t bad. It was solidly GOOD, nothing more, and I think we all knew it didn’t stand a chance of being Oscargreat (and this is coming from a guy who thought The Last Jedi deserved Best Picture).

Who was even excited for a new Tomb Raider movie? I don’t know a single person. Sure, we were all aware of it coming out, but I felt no buzz. I certainly have an affinity for Tomb Raider 2 – I remember the odd shaped Eidos box – but just because the brand recognition is high doesn’t mean I’ve bought a new game in years.

Just because a franchise has fans, doesn’t mean it has fans. Rise of the Tomb Raider sold 7 million copies, but that doesn’t mean 7 million people are showing up to the theater. Most of those gamers are far too apprehensive of movies based off videogames. They’ve been hurt too much.

Full disclosure: I LOVE this movie and think it’s a GREAT movie, but it is a HORRIBLE video game adaptation.

Tomb Raider a classic case of Hollywood assuming that they can make money off a film just because it has some name recognition. It’s not that Tomb Raider is an unfilmable property, or that it couldn’t make a great movie. It’s just that we’re sick of it – specifically the churning out of bad movies. When you’ve already fucked up Tomb Raider (Angelina Jolie ), as well as MANY other video game movies, the fans won’t come out. And if they don’t come out, it won’t matter if it’s good or bad.

All that being said, it sounds like I hated the movie. No. Tomb Raider is good. It’s good in the way that I never once considered walking out of the theater (Side note 1: Can’t say the same for Wrinkle in Time. Side note 2: I did leave once to get a jack and soda). It sucks that that’s the type of scale we have to work with, but you can’t blame me. A Tomb Raider movie in 2018 screams “this may be walk-out worthy.”

Alas, I did not walk out other than for libations because it’s a fun and engaging movie, with Alicia Vikander being the most charming we may have ever seen her, and not once does it seem as though she doesn’t belong in the action. Her character seems naturally courageous – like we’re really seeing a bad ass human, but a human nonetheless, take on the impossible – while Angelina Jolie’s version felt flat, like a videogame character whose action is so effortless it fails to carry any weight.

The movie serves as an origin story for Lara Croft, which as much as I hate origin stories, it works here. Origin stories can naturally create more palatable movies because the opportunity for character growth is inherent. I think that’s the issue with non-origin stories for established heroes. Where do they continue to grow when we have them served to us as perfect?

The movie does, however, leave me aching to see an Alicia Vikander Lara Croft where she’s a fully gun toting, treasure hunting bad ass. The movie’s final shot tells us that by the end, she has become that person, and Vikander’s Croft is well-played enough to warrant sequels, but will we even get one? I doubt it will perform well enough for a sequel to be a no-brainer, yet the movie so tragically sets us up for one. How often do we see the final shot of the film begging for a sequel, but they didn’t even bother to make a good movie in the first place? That’s not the case here, but the focus on the multiple-movie model forgets one important thing – people have to want to see three of them.

Yes, the movie was good. Yes, I enjoyed it, but would this movie even be on my radar if it wasn’t Tomb Raider? And that being said, what is the Tomb Raider franchise even worth to me? If it weren’t for Movie Pass, I probably would have skipped this one. So here you have a movie that I only saw because it was a Tomb Raider movie, yet I have little excitement for a Tomb Raider movie?

I also wonder if I would speak differently about this movie ten years ago. Ten years ago, when it felt like we were all going to the movies every weekend, this would have been a good buy. We would have ate it up and loved it. Now it seems to have a lackluster appeal. It feels “Netflixy” in that it’s missing that certain quality we crave when paying $15+/ticket. Are there any moments in the film I could point out and tell you that are must see? No, and I think that’s a big problem for a 1) a Tomb Raider. 2) a video game movie. 3) a movie you expect people to show up to the theater to see.

Tomb Raider is a good, solid movie. I just wonder there’s any space left for just good, solid movies in the theater anymore.


Thanks for reading! Let me know what you thought of Tomb Raider in the comments!

Follow me on Twitter @joecabello
My podcast, The Joe Cabello Show comes out Wednesday on Itunes and Soundcloud.

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