Tomb Raider – CGI, CGI, and More CGI

Rating (2.5 out of 5)

Tomb Raider was the new movie last week on HBO and I took the chance.   A decent enough action movie overpowered by CGI, which results in a barely watchable film.

Plot:  Lara Croft’s (Alicia Vikander) father died on an exploration, and Lara has survived on her own as a bike messenger.  She finds the first clues to her fathers disappearance, and starts her first adventure; searching for the truth about what happened to her father.

What I Liked:  They establish some of her skills in the first 10 minutes.  Her ability to fight at the gym and her quickness in the bike chase scene (see pictures below).  Wish they incorporated the bike chase into the later part of the movie as I really enjoyed the bike chase fox/hound race.  The setup of the movie was similar to Kingsman.

Lara’s character at times was so strong and independent; she chased down her back pack from criminals in Hong Kong; she solves the puzzles and mysteries in the cave, then next minute she is screaming and almost helpless.  I liked the movie more when the gave us  the strong Lara, the smart Lara; the Lara Croft from our video games..  There were more than a few moments when she screamed like a little girl, this is not my Tomb Raider.


What I Didn’t Like:  CGI has it place.  An audience will not notice the CGI when a good director mixes the CGI shots with shots of actors on a set.  The CGI can only be a snippet so we the audience don’t notice the flaws.  The director of Tomb Raider must have missed that class, and had sustained shots of the CGI, maybe thinking we were stupid.  I noticed the CGI and those scenes were hard to watch, almost comical.  The most airplane sitting over the water being the most obvious example of the poor CGI deployment.


Lara picks up a bow and arrow and uses it like a pro.  Now they establish she practiced archery as a teenager.  As a teenager, when shooting at a stationary target and Lara herself is  stationary, she had trouble hitting the target.  Now all of a sudden, she is shooting mercenaries who are moving quickly and she is moving quickly.  Oh and did I mention the mercenaries have guns and somehow can’t hit her.

There are too many times when Lara jumps and hangs from a precarious ledge.  They relied on the same stunt over and over.  I would have appreciated them mixing the action more.  As an example, why wasn’t there a motorcycle or mountain bike chase to show off her skill they established early on in the movie.

They missed an opportunity to have a guru/training session.  Either her father (Dominic West) or Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) could have been the guru.  Lara seems so much smarter than her father and she is able to figure out the clues without him.  She saves Lu Ren after he crashes the ship.  She seemed to not need them, and they really seemed  to slow her down.  Instead, both could have mentored her Intelligent and Tough to give use the final Lara, that we all know and love.  Lu Ren and Lara’s dad are useless throw away characters.

Conclusion:  Often I wasn’t sure if I was watching a video game or a movie with real people.  When the movie concentrated on Lara (the smart and strong one), the movie was entertaining.  Unfortunately that is very small part of the movie.