Tomb Raider hits movie theaters tomorrow, and reviews are scattered. A measly 49% on Rotten Tomatoes, but Variety writes, “you walk out feeling honestly entertained.” Which begs the decades old question: Can video games make good films?
The easy answer: yeah, they should. The story and characters are already there. Fans are addicted to these games. It should be as simply as beefing up the plot and rubbing some soul into the characters. But it clearly isn’t that easy.
One of he first films to be made based off of a video game was the beloved Mortal Kombat. I say beloved because I have fond memories of playing Mortal Kombat in the college dorm room at ridiculous hours of the night with my buddies. But the movie is a disaster. And it is ONE OF THE BETTER ADAPTATIONS! Think I’m wrong? Vulture.com lists it as the number one not sucking movie. Yeah, they have a list from not totally awful to awful films based on video games. So…there ain’t a good one out there.
Could Tomb Raider change this?
My heart says yes. My mind says probably not. I’ve been a Lara Croft fan for years. What’s not to love? A strong, bad-ass woman who raids tombs, destroys monsters, and tackles the evils of men single-handedly. The Wonder Woman of every-day rich British girls. The character has all the attributes ready for an on-screen win. Angelina Jolie was an awesome choice to play Lara Croft in 2001. She had strength, sarcasm, grit, and an Oscar. Unfortunately, poor screenwriting and direction failed to create video-to-cinema magic. Both Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – Cradle of Life failed to find a balance between reality and the video game’s supernatural story lines. Although Lara maybe a female Indie, the films are no Raiders of the Lost Ark. Even a gorgeous Gerard Butler using his natural Scottish accent couldn’t save the second film.
The reboot of Tomb Raider finds us on an adventure with another Oscar winner: Alicia Vikander. I’m reserving judgement until I see the film, but I wasn’t overly excited at the choice. The only film I’ve seen Vikander act in was one of the Bourne movies, and she totally phoned it in. It was a one note performance. If she hadn’t won an Oscar, I’d question if she can act. And her portrayal of Lara Croft in the trailers seems so…young? Naive? None of the fire that Jolie brought to it. Granted, it is an origin story, essentially, which I love, so maybe we will see that fire grow throughout the film.
I hope this is the film that makes video game adaptations come to life. I want so desperately for this movie to rock. I’ve been playing the game that it is based on and am stoked to see footage ripped right from the game – like Lara hanging on for dear life to the crumbling wreck of a plane and parachuting through the forest. I hope she navigates it better than I did. I impaled her a on few trees in my multiple attempts. My version of Lara dies – a lot.
I also hope the film isn’t as kill happy as the game. My love for Tomb Raider comes from searching grounds, solving puzzles, wondering what supernatural force lurks behind the next catacomb. I don’t enjoy the story line in this game of an island taken over by all male bad guys with tons of guns and Lara having to take them all out, which could mean I’m setting myself up for more disappointment with the movie. Looks to be lots of bad dudes with guns.
I’m planning to take my son partially for the same reason I took him to Wonder Woman: to see a strong female protagonist in a heroic role. I’m hoping the gun-happy scenes are minimal. I’m hoping there is an element of supernatural in what appears to be a gritty, realistic envisioning of a video game. But most of all, I’m hoping for a fun popcorn film that will inspire me to get back to boot camp, to write kick-ass female protagonists, and it will inspire more female-driven movies. And while we’re at it – more female-driven video games. Because all we’ve got is Lara.
And if the powers that be read this and care, I totally think Dino Crisis should be turned into a film. So get on that!
Photos courtesy Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. and MGM.
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