Movies, Pop Culture

The ‘Tomb Raider’ reboot didn’t deserve all of that bad press

Why aren't films with female leads ever allowed to be flawed?

Tomb Raider (2018) is the third film in the series and has been rebooted with Alicia Vikander as the lead protagonist Lara Croft. The first two films starred Angelina Jolie as Croft back in the 2000’s and thanks to her, Croft became an iconic character. Even though the first two films were given negative reviews, they were loved by the audience. The films and Jolie’s portrayal was so loved that when the announcement of the reboot with Vikander was announced, fans all over the world started protesting against it.

But it wasn’t because the story of Croft was being written and directed by men once again, or that Vikander wasn’t talented enough. No, it was because Vikander’s breasts weren’t as big as Jolie’s.

Jolie gave the world a sexy, curvy and flirtatious Lara Croft, but the reboot decided to go with the design from the most recent game. Vikander portrays a younger Croft in the film and this time we see a vulnerable yet determined young woman. The events in the film set the path for her to be the adventurous Lara Croft. Some ‘fans’ thought it wasn’t fair to change the body proportions of Croft, but it wasn’t just ‘fans’, even professional film critics were commenting on Vikander’s body.

The film has been reviewed by fans, film critics, Rotten Tomatoes, and professional Twitter feminists alike. I can’t remember the last time an action film was so deeply analyzed. There are action films with male leads coming out almost every week, but they have yet to placed under such an intense microscope.

James Bond or Mission Impossible films are never given such critical reviews and Bond is literally one of the most sexist film series that exists (between the Bond girls and questionable sexual attempts by Bond, himself in the films).

Yet many major publications and critics never mentioned these when publishing their reviews.

 Tomb Raider was so over-analyzed that nearly everything in the film was expected to have a deeper meaning. 

And while social criticism is important the reality is: Tomb Raider has been harshly criticized solely because it has a female lead.

Critics took aim at the plot, claiming it had plot holes and bad pacing. Ironically, however, another action film John Wick (2014) currently holds an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes despite having the most basic plot: a retired hitman’s dog is killed and he takes revenge on the murderers while killing at least a 100 people in the process. Of course, a film doesn’t have to have a complex plot, but if this is acceptable for an action film with a male lead, then Tomb Raider’s plot shouldn’t be such a big problem.

The plot isn’t the only important part of a film. The acting, directing, writing, music and cinematography are also part of it. And Tomb Raider delivers in all of these. Every second of the film is incredibly exciting and has you on the edge of your seat throughout the two hours. The acting is incredible and Vikander successfully creates a brand new and sensational Lara Croft on her own terms.

Director Roar Uthaug does an incredible job, especially with the action. We have more realistic action and fighting compared to most action films. Once Croft is injured she feels pain and stays injured throughout the film. Sometimes she loses her fights, which makes the film so enjoyable and unpredictable. There is an incredible bike scene in the beginning and I never thought I would enjoy a bike race as much as I did in Tomb Raider. The story is also fresh as we see a poor Croft who is refusing her father’s inheritance and is having to work for money.

Tomb Raider is the best film in the series yet and without a doubt one of the best films of 2018. However once again women are being criticized too much and unfairly. Films with female leads are expected to be perfect and if they’re not, then they’ve failed and therefore do not deserve another chance. If it’s not perfect it doesn’t deserve to be successful. Women are never given the chance to be mediocre or even bad. Every move we make is calculated.

So when a film comes out with a female lead, it’s always the same expectation: it has to be flawless.

But despite what ‘fans’, film critics and Rotten Tomatoes are saying, this Tomb Raider is as good as it gets.