10 Things Parents Should Know About ‘Tomb Raider’

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The latest reboot of the film version of the oft-rebooted video game hit theaters this weekend. Read on to find out if you should take the kids or find a babysitter.

1. What’s it about?

In this incarnation, Lara Croft (Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander) is a young woman growing up alone in London. Her father, Lord Croft, disappeared seven years ago while searching for the tomb of a mythical Japanese witch, but Lara refuses to accept that he’s gone and sign the papers that would give her access to his wealth. Instead, she’s working as a bike messenger, kickboxing, and otherwise trying to ignore her feelings. That is, until she gets arrested and bailed out by her father’s assistant, Anna (Academy Award winner Kristin Scott Thomas), who cajoles Lara into accepting the inheritance. But when Lara shows up at her dad’s business to sign the papers, the lawyer (Derek Jacobi, who shockingly has never even been nominated for an Oscar) gives her a puzzle box, which provides her with the first of a series of clues on the location of the island her father disappeared on. And so, rather than take the money, Lara sets off on a quest to find her father (and maybe a tomb she can raid.)

2. Will I like it?

I certainly did. It really felt like a throw-back to older action films like Raiders of the Lost Ark that rely more on an interesting story and good acting than on explosions and special effects. There are certainly parts of it that don’t make a lot of logical sense, but if you choose to see a movie called Tomb Raider you should expect that anyway.

3. Will the kids like it?

Teens of almost all ages probably will. It’s not too long–just under two hours–and moves at a good pace throughout. Younger kids may have trouble following the story, and there is a lot of violence (more on that in a bit), so I’d hesitate to recommend it to younger audiences, but I am considering taking my 12-year-old son to see it.

4. How is Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft?

I thought she was pretty perfectly cast. She has a sense of vulnerability about her that gives the character some depth, but at the same time she looks and acts strong enough (both mentally and physically) to be believable as a young woman who would throw herself into danger to try to save someone she loves, and who would be able to possibly survive said danger. And it definitely helps that they cast someone with such strong acting chops.

5. Is this just a setup for a sequel?

It isn’t “just” a setup: the movie tells a complete, self-contained story. But, they definitely lay the groundwork for more to come. There are a lot of hints throughout at a shadowy organization pulling the bad guys’ strings that will clearly become the main antagonist if future films happen, and there’s a scene at the very end of the movie (see below) that is very clearly setting up another movie. But in case this doesn’t make enough money to justify that, it can end up standing alone and be fine.

6. What’s it rated? Why?

The MPAA awarded the movie a PG-13 for “sequences of violence and action, and for some language.” As I mentioned above, the action is basically non-stop, from a bike chase through the streets of London to a foot chase in Hong Kong to the titular raiding of the tomb. And while there is a lot of violence–bad guys spend most of the movie shooting at Lara, and she spends a good amount of time shooting back (albeit with a bow and arrow, rather than her signature pistols)–none of it felt over-the-top. And when people get shot, there is some blood, but again, it isn’t at all gratuitous.

I recall one instance of Lara using the “s” word. There may have been other cases of characters uttering words you’d rather not have your kids say, but there’s not much of it.

7. When can I go to the restroom?

The movie clocks in at 1 hour, 58 minutes, but assume the last 8 or so of those minutes are credits. So hopefully you can last, because there really are very few breaks in the action. Perhaps the best one is when Lara encounters the castaway and follows him to his cave. The scene lasts around 5 minutes or so, and while there’s some character development in it, there’s nothing you won’t be able to figure out as the movie progresses.

8. Is it worth seeing in 3D?

I saw a 2D showing because I hate 3D, and because MoviePass won’t pay for anything else, but this was a rare film where I noticed the scenes that were intended to be 3D and actually thought, “maybe this would have been worth it.” An example, and it’s something that’s been in every trailer and isn’t vital to the plot, so I don’t really consider it a spoiler: there’s a sequence where Lara is being pulled down a river, and manages to grab on to the wing of an old, rusted WWII bomber to keep from being pulled over a waterfall. It’s a pretty cool scene, but I suspect that the real height of the falls would have been even better in 3D. I mentioned above that I am thinking of taking my son, and when if I do that, I may have to consider 3D.

9. Is there anything after the credits?

No. There’s a moment where the movie seems to end–the Tomb Raider logo comes up on the screen–that is followed by another scene, but the logo is only up for a few seconds so no one is going to have time to leave. And once that scene is done, it’s all credits from then on.

10. So, just to be clear: a tomb does get raided at some point, right?

Yes.

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