Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Third One’s Always The Worst

“The third one’s always the worst.” These words were coined by English actress Sophie Turner in her auspicious portrayal of the 18-year-old Jean Grey in director Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Never have they been of more relevance than when delving into the third cinematic installment of a much more light-hearted and still universally debated topic: video game adaptations.

Specifically, this article discusses the critically acclaimed 2018 adaptation of yet another iteration of the beloved Tomb Raider saga in a vain attempt to, much like Disney with Star Wars, attempt to rekindle the nostalgic fevor of the video game franchise that launched Angelina Joliee’s career. This lead to the creation of two universally praised, if campy, actions movies under the misguided belief that, unlike Star Wars, anyone still cares.

As with the prior installments, this Tomb Raider reboot revolves around the video game heroine Lara Croft as she keeps with her promise made at the end of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. As promised at the end of the second movie, the film finds the protagonist stepping away from the mystery, intrigue and danger that comes with her responsibilities as Tomb Raider. She focuses on introspection and healing within herself and her personal relationships as she continues to research the disappearance of her father, Lord Richard, in an attempt to track him down and obtain answers.

The plot thus far is fairly simple and precise. Even when the addition of Lara’s stepmother arrives onto the scene, wishing only that after seven years her stepdaughter would sign over legal documents that would make her the legal owner of her absent husband’s vast fortune. The audience is never left floundering or confused as to the relationships or motivations these characters possess.

The contrived plot convenience leads Lara to discover a clue to her father’s disappearance, explaining exactly the reason for Lord Richard’s disappearance and what compelled him to do so, the trajectory of the film is still very direct and maintains a clear point of reference of which to guide by regarding character goals and motivation.

With the introduction of the third act however, when the reinvigorated Lara finally does reach the ruined island of the evil queen, with the help of some of her father’s old coworkers she’s managed to track down along the way, the plot falls apart.

Pity, as Vikander herself shines as a much stronger, more relatable, physically and emotionally attainable Lara Croft than Joliee ever was. Though the directors Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons try their best to apply their characters in an air of reality and believability. The film suffers from an overuse of cryptic, cliched set design, nonsensical character choices, and the crushing downfall of most mainstream action movies. The character’s either outgrow the bounds of their world, or don’t develop enough of an independent personality to justify their existence within the world to begin with.

In the end, the audience leaves the theater perhaps appeased, but with the distinct feeling that in the end something fundamental is lacking from the core of the development process. A shame as, given enough time, this third iteration to the franchise could have finally been the spark needed to give relevance to video game adaptations, and validate their continued creation in the western hemisphere.   

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