Yesterday, Warner Bros. released the full trailer for the upcoming Tomb Raider film, starring Alicia Vikander. In addition to being an adaptation of the long-running game franchise, it’s also boasts the second interpretation of Lara Croft. The first had the iconic Angelina Jolie filling in the title role, and while the films were passable, you couldn’t really call them “good.” No doubt, with this take, they were hoping to change that. But as was obvious from that first trailer, you shouldn’t expect this one to resemble Jolie’s take.
Since Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life hit theaters back in 2003, there’s been seven games released, three of which are a part of a brand new reboot that started in the Xbox 360 and PS3 console cycle. This new take on the character was younger and more naïve, and also lived in a more realistic world than the old Lara Croft.
This latest Tomb Raider film takes its inspiration from the 2013 film, and while that’s a great place to start, the trailer indicates that there is one big reason why the trailer scared me — and should scare you as well.
But in order to understand what that big reason is, let’s break it down into three other, more easily digestible chunks.
1. It Looks Like A Retread Of The 2013 Video Game Reboot
Okay, this may seem a bit unfair, but let me explain. The 2013 reboot was fantastic. It was fun to play, tense, and featured a more grounded take on the character and world. Like most video games, however, I can’t say the best part of the film was the story.
The best part was the gameplay. For me, the story just helped create a backdrop for the new tone and game mechanics. Now, that’s not to say the story was bad. It started off promising enough, but as the story escalated, it went off the deep end into ridiculousness. But that was okay, because the gameplay was still fun, and it made for an enjoyable experience.
While the setting of the film is close enough to the reboot, I worry it will take too many notes from the game. At the end of the day, the mediums are completely different, and to pull too many story elements from a “blah” story, you’re basically creating a story that isn’t bolstered up by the game’s best element: the gameplay.
In short, you’ll be making a subpar product that relies to heavily on a secondary element from another medium. Not a great move.
2. Lara Croft Jumps Around Like A Superhuman
One of the big draws to this reboot was its potential to be more grounded and real. Now, I’m not about to suggest that the film needs to be completely set in the physics we know in our world — where would the fun be in that? But I do think they should at least split the difference between the ridiculous and the real.
Based on this trailer, this one leans too heavy on the ridiculous. I mean, come on, Lara Croft is jumping around like Captain America! Not only does that sort of take me out of it as a viewer, but it also takes away from this idea that she’s a total novice at tomb raiding.
Understandably, you may point to the fact that she does the same thing in the game. I’d defer you back to the above. This is a movie, not a game. What works in a narrative in the context of gameplay mechanics does not bode well in a standard film. If you want to jump 20 feet horizontally in a game, you forgive the fact that your character can do it. In a film, you constantly question the logic of the world the film is set.
3. The World-Altering Stakes
I feel I may be being a bit redundant here, but hopefully you’re catching on to my main theme. As mentioned above, the game started off relatively grounded before going off into the ridiculous. Admittedly, from a storytelling standpoint, the reboot never really clicked with me when it got bigger in scope. That being said, it was a game, and as I got more badass as a character, the game got more rewarding, so all was forgiven.
With the film, the narrative doesn’t have the gameplay to fall back on, and should have adjusted its story accordingly. The real compelling aspect of the core narrative is Lara Croft surviving on an island against all odds and becoming the Tomb Raider. The stuff with her father could be the push she needs to get where she needs to, but going beyond that only works as a disservice.
By adding in the world-altering stakes, you not only diminish the ability for an audience to suspend its disbelief, but you also leave very little room for Lara Croft to grow as a character — or for the story to expand down the line.
I may have separated these reasons into three separate parts, but it’s become clear that they all stem from the same issue: they’re trying too hard to recreate the game. On the surface, this may seem like a great thing — after all, these games are popular for a reason. Why wouldn’t they replicate this?
But the reality is that story is only one aspect of a video game, and if Nintendo’s success is any indication, it’s nowhere near the most important one. Film has other important aspects, but the general strengths of a movie tends to fall back on its story. A movie can have garbage cinematography, but that may be forgiven if it has a good story. The same isn’t true of a video game. As such, as much should be done to actually ADAPT the story to best fit the medium, not shoehorn story points from the game into the film.
But that’s just my opinion after having watched the trailer. As someone who was hopeful, I was thoroughly disheartened after seeing what Lara Croft’s adventure would entail. I’m still holding out that it could be a great film, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say this trailer didn’t scare me a bit.
What do you think? Did you like the trailer, and if so, what aspects worked for you? If you disliked it, why? Sound off down below!
Tomb Raider hits theaters on March 16, 2018.