Way back in the early 2000s, after Tomb Raider was cool, but before Tomb Raider was cool again, Angelina Jolie made a couple movies based on the original incarnation of the character – the ultra-witty, ultra-sexy, James Bond-knockoff. They weren’t entirely bad, but were hamstrung by the range of that original take on the character, one invented primarily for dudes to layer fantasies over, of killing endangered wildlife and, you know, anything else that might pop up. Now, with Lara Croft’s video-game legacy revived, it was time to bring her back to the big screen. Last night we got our first look at the movie, set to release next year.
How closely the trailer seems to stick to the homonymous 2013 game is all at once exciting and a bit disconcerting.
Tomb Raider was a great game. Video game movies suck.
If you’ve played the 2013 Tomb Raider game, you’ve seen this trailer before. The dangerous sea and the warnings that come with it, followed by the nasty storm and the shipwreck. The island full of grungy men with guns. Lara falling into the river, getting beat to hell, and even getting her first kill. Everything from Ms. Croft’s outfit to her moves are pure video game.
I’m impressed that the studio is willing to hew so closely to the original setting and look of the game. There are already some changes. The trailer jumps on the secret Trinity organization from the get-go, where it was only hinted at in the 2013 game. Lara’s friend Samantha from the game has been replaced by a friend named Lu Ren, played by Daniel Wu of Badlands and the Warcraft movie. I’d bet the movie won’t bank as hard on Japanese mythology or imagery, and won’t end with Lu getting possessed by the spirit of an angry goddess (Hey, the game’s been out four years – you had your chance).
The only problem here is that video game adaptations have, almost without exception, sucked. The other Tomb Raider movies were carried mostly by Jolie’s star power, and movies like Assassin’s Creed have continued to struggle to capture what makes these stories and characters interesting. If director Roar Uthaug (award winner for coolest name for a director?) can capture both the fingernail-breaking desperation of survival and the magic of exploration that the new Tomb Raider games are so good at, the movie might have half a chance.
Lara Croft is played by Academy Award-winning actress Alicia Vikander, who won an Oscar for best performance by an actress in a supporting role in 2015’s The Danish Girl, in addition to being nominated for a number of awards for her chilling performance in the science fiction flick Ex Machina. Actor Walter Goggins plays the antagonist.
Tomb Raider is set to hit theaters on March 16, 2018.