There were two reasons as to why I watched this movie: the 2013 reboot game, which I played back when I had a PS3, and Alicia Vikander, who has shaped up to be one of my favorite actresses of this last decade. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from a movie adaptation of a video game, because that is a very ambitious undertaking and movies based on video games have a bad reputation among moviegoers and gamers alike. Since there is too much material to be adapted from the game, it's obvious the movie is gonna cut off some elements to fit a 2-hour runtime.
The premise is that Lara's father has disappeared since she was a child, leaving Lara to grow up resentful of him and trying to live outside the legacy and fortune he left for her. Upon receiving a message left by her father, Lara embarks on a journey to find him and discover what exactly her father had gotten himself into. This leads her to the strange island of Yamatai, where a group of mercenaries try to use her father's research to uncover a mystery about an ancient Japanese queen that could destroy the world.
In the original game, Lara went in that journey because she was already a rookie adventurer and her father had died years ago, so the movie has to modify her origin story more palatable to the average viewer. I'm not really upset by this but it's bound to make some hardcore fans angry that a significant chunk of Lara's agency and independence was removed.
Alicia delivers a strong performance as Lara. It's clear that Alicia trained for months to get fit for the part and the action scenes are impressive and believable. I had trouble buying into her transformation into a rugged action heroine, but again, it's a bit understandable because of difficulties of making a movie based on a video game. Since this is an origin story, we only see bits and pieces of the action heroine she will become until the climax and by the end, it's clear her development hasn't yet concluded and she still has a long way to go.
Lara's interactions with the supporting characters are corny, hackneyed and bit humorous. Every once in a while, however, they do hit the mark in terms of emotional payoff, especially in regards to Lara's father. Alicia has good chemistry with the supporting characters even the writing is pretty standard, friendship/family stuff.
I admit I didn't really hate the villain as much as the movie wanted me to. As it turns out, he is being manipulated by some evil organization that wants to control the world from the shadows and he wants to leave Yamatai so he can see family again, which is kinda similar to Lara arriving at Yamatai to see her father again. Since he is getting desperate, he antagonizes Lara and her father, making the conflict between them feel bland and forced.
The movie removes any trace of magic or supernatural elements from the series. The curse of Himiko is actually a virus and Himiko willingly entombed herself in Yamatai to prevent a large-scale pandemic. I had trouble accepting this, because I played the original game, and Himiko's powers are crucial element in the climax. Since this a more grounded, realistic take on the series, it's change that you gotta see with a little bit of understanding but it comes off as cheap and a bit of a safe route. The supernatural element is important in the game, so it would have been nice for the movie to introduce it in a creative manner rather than cutting it off entirely.
Movies based on video games are always risky bets for the movie industry and if you watch them, you should at least be a bit soft on them and judge them by their own merits rather than any preconceived notions on what should be or shouldn't be on them. Tomb Raider is not groundbreaking by any means and it won't rewrite the book in regards to strong female protagonists or movies based on video games. However, if you want to watch a fun movie with good action scenes and a relatable action heroine, then this is the movie for you.