Video game adaptations have had a mixed reputation in Hollywood for decades, but despite this lingering stigma, many entries in the sub-genre seem to accumulate decent business at the international box-office. Creating the perfect video game movie is an ongoing quest for film makers and studios, and some have even labeled it the Holy Grail of Hollywood, but many gamers and viewers think it comes down to one simple rule — base the movie on the actual game itself.
Funnily enough, many studios and scriptwriters tend to ignore this principle and make creative changes along the way. Some are well-received while others are not. After all, taking a video game and simply repeating it verbatim on the big screen is a sure-fire way to annoy the true gamers, right? Gamers are a loyal bunch: people who dedicate hours of their time playing the game, immersing themselves in the fictional worlds, and enjoying the exhaustive details of a story that simply isn’t transferable to a two-hour movie. Turning this experience into a film just wouldn’t work, in theory.
But, then again, not many studios have been brave enough to attempt it.
The reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise was announced last year, and many thought it was a mistake to bring it back to life. However, the franchise itself has undergone a massive overhaul in recent years. In 2013, the franchise was completely rebooted, and gamers were introduced to a leaner, more inexperienced Lara Croft, one that instantly appealed to thousands of new and old gamers alike. The games were a great success, and when the movie reboot was announced, many suspected that the movie would adapt from these games. Until now, that has simply been a rumor — but female lead Alicia Vikander has recently confirmed the Tomb Raider reboot will be based on the popular 2013 game.
Due to the massive surge of popularity that resulted from the 2013 game, and later its sequel in 2015, the return of Lara Croft has been on the cards for quite some time. In April, the reboot gained some huge momentum when Oscar winner Alicia Vikander was cast as the infamous heroine, an appointment confirmed by Deadline. Development has been under way ever since, and during a recent interview with HitFix, the Swedish actress confirmed what everyone was suspecting; the incoming movie will be based on the 2013 video game of the same name.
“They told me they were doing the film based on the reboot of the game from 2013. That is more of an origin story. You get into an emotional aspect of getting to know Lara hopefully in an in-depth way. So I hope that doing a film of the rebooted game will bring something new and fresh that’ll stand on its own two legs.”
Vikander also recalled her vivid memories of playing as Lara Croft when she was younger.
“I, with the rest of the world, was excited to see a female protagonist in a video game. I was a bit scared playing it when I was 12, 13. I had to go take little breaks.”
The 2013 video game reboot marks a change of pace for the character of Lara Croft. Originally cast as a dominant, seemingly indestructible and extremely confident heroine in the original installments — a female lead in a video game was revolutionary at the time — the reboot in 2013 took her back to her origins, removing several of the traits that made her so endearing in the first place. Undergoing a slight personality change, both mentally and physically, Croft became the average person in the reboot, a naive woman thrust into a perilous adventure without any knowledge of her surroundings; a fish out of the literal water when her boat is brutally shipwrecked on a mysterious island. Forced to navigate the treacherous terrain to escape, she discovers a whole host of unknown dangers and soon realises that the island is hiding a deep, dark secret.
This vital change made the character more accessible to a whole new generation of gamers; it also sucked you in and had you screaming, biting your nails, and wincing profusely when Lara performed a death-defying leap, or sustained serious injury, or even met a gruesome, R-rated death on her perilous quest. These factors were new to Tomb Raider; it leant the character a realistic, gritty edge that was formerly missing in previous entries of the franchise, and it was a major reason for the success of the rebooted games. To announce that the new film is based on this iteration of the character is a financially smart idea, and it gives Alicia Vikander a solid chance to make Lara Croft her own.
2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was one of those rare video game adaptations that actually worked. The film made a star of Angelina Jolie, an actress who was on the rise when the film was released, and forever placed Lara Croft into the Hollywood spectrum. In a similar twist of fate, Vikander is also on the rise, with an Oscar win and several notable roles beneath her belt already. In a career that is still less than three years old, the actress has taken the cinematic world by storm. If the current evidence of her cinematic performances is to be believed, her role as Lara Croft has the potential to propel her into the Hollywood stratosphere, and make her an A-list star.
With Assassin’s Creed released at the end of 2016, a film that is expected to change the course of video game movies, could this be the start of a revival for the video game adaptation? Watch this space. Until then, you can enjoy the trailer for 2013’s Tomb Raider video game below.
Directed by Roar Uthaug and starring Alicia Vikander, Tomb Raider will open in cinemas on March 16, 2018.
[Image and video via Crystal Dynamics]