Video game adaptations have had a bad time throughout the years, and the critics haven’t been kind to them, but one film that partially succeeded in making the jump from the console to the big screen was Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, the 2001 movie starring Angelina Jolie. Some may say it’s the best adaptation of a video game in regards to authenticity, particularly where its titular character is concerned, but it still managed to turn some critics away before vanishing in the shadow of a lukewarm 2003 sequel.
Now, 15 years from the 2001 release, the Tomb Raider franchise has undergone a massive transformation, and the same stands for Lara Croft. She became one of the most recognizable characters in modern gaming culture during the ’90s and ’00s, winning numerous accolades while pioneering the powerful female character in video games, despite her obvious sex appeal being used for successful, but controversial marketing.
Then 2013 happened. Tomb Raider was reborn, and with a successfully rebooted franchise — the games Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider have sold over 9.5 million units between them — comes another movie. It’s no secret that Lara Croft will be returning to the big screen in a rebooted Tomb Raider movie in 2017, and to emphasize this, director Roar Uthaug explained that he wishes to completely reboot Lara as well, bringing her into the modern era with his realistic vision of the character.
And how to do this? By making Lara more relatable and human than ever before. With the new entries in the Tomb Raider gaming series, Lara was completely overhauled, stripped of her experience and charismatic confidence, thrust into a near impossible adventure with overwhelming odds, and was forced to survive. The stark terror, trauma, and fear was shockingly evident on her innocent face throughout the games, something that connected the average gamer to the character like never before.
The reboot has been praised for its gritty realism and graphic, violent content; you really fear for Lara’s welfare in certain scenes, and in an interview with IGN, Uthaug explained that he wanted to bring this feeling of peril to the Tomb Raider movie reboot.
“I think making Lara Croft feel like a real human being, that’s definitely something we want to bring to the big screen as well. I think we’ll want to make people relate to Lara as a character. I’m hoping to bring some of my Norwegian sensibilities to the franchise.”
The upcoming Tomb Raider movie is expected to take major inspiration from the recent video games. The film will try to portray Lara Croft as a genuine human being and show how a young adventurer such as herself becomes the seasoned, traumatized veteran the fans know and love. The film will be an origin story of sorts, much like the 2013 game, and is expected to focus on a regular Lara, shipwrecked and alone on a mysterious island, a fish out of water so to speak, turning her into a real character that people can relate to, and in the process shelve her more video game orientated traits — for now.
In comparison, the original incarnation of the character was very much stuck in the 1990s. Angelina Jolie’s version was a walking talking video game character, nearly invincible and OTT bada** in the face of overwhelming danger. It worked, though, in an era dominated by slow motion action movies, and the reveal of more advanced gaming technology. In recent times, cinema goers have become attached to more realistic, gritty protagonists — take Daniel Craig’s Bond for example, a modern reboot that worked in spades. Pushing Lara Croft in this direction not only makes perfect sense, but is the financially sensible thing to do.
Could it work on the big screen? If the hugely successful games are anything to go by — which are practically movies in their own right — Lara Croft has a bright cinematic future ahead of her. In a time where games and movies merge on an equal level, Tomb Raider will be totally different from the previous installments. Roar Uthaug was announced as director a few months ago — a story revealed by Variety — and he was hired because of his attention to detail and his raw, gritty direction. It seems Tomb Raider has found the perfect man for the theme of the reborn franchise.
Lara is a cherished character, for both men and women equally, so seeing her portrayed in a realistic fashion will be very intriguing to not only gamers, but non-gamers too; people who want to simply watch a decent action flick. With Bond and Bourne heading up the gritty, visceral action stakes in modern cinema, it seems that Lara Croft could fit right in.
Now they just have to cast the role…
Tomb Raider will be released sometime in 2017.
[Image via Square Enix]