WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the Tomb Raider reboot, in theaters now.
Nearly 15 years after Angelina Jolie last fired her dual pistols in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider -- The Cradle of Life, Oscar winner Alicia Vikander has stepped into the iconic role for Tomb Raider, a franchise reboot based on the bestselling 2013 video game of the same name. It's virtually impossible not to draw comparisons between this new film and 2001's hit Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and between Jolie's adventurer and the one portrayed by Vikander. Therefore, we have to ask: Whose Lara Croft is better?
It's important to note that Jolie’s two original films and Vikander’s reboot are based on different versions of Lara Croft, from different video game series. So, we’re not exactly comparing apples to apples here, but its not apple to oranges either.
The original 1996 Tomb Raider game is basically a spin on Indiana Jones, with a female protagonist, but the innovative gameplay is what made the title stand out. Lara Croft's trademarks were her twin extended 9mm pistols and skimpy athletic wear. When the game was adapted for film five years later, many thought Jolie’s casting was perfect. Her appearance and demeanor matched well with that of the game's fan-favorite archaeologist-adventurer. However, Jolie’s acting was almost comedic at times. The opening scene in which she neutralizes her training robot was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Possibly the most redeeming aspect of this film was the casting of Jolie’s real-life father, legendary actor Jon Voight, as Lord Richard Croft.
Vikander would have to deliver a pretty dismal portrayal for us to choose Jolie's Lara Croft over hers. But Vikander gives a strong performance in one of the better video game adaptations. It’s fair to say the original Tomb Raider had its time and place, but the new iteration is made for a new generation. It has the grit and realism that many audiences demand these days.
Directed by Roar Uthaug (The Wave), this film sees Lara Croft as a tough young woman who chooses to be a broke bike courier, rather than gaining her sizeable inheritance by accepting that her missing father is dead, and signing-off on his death certificate. This Lara isn't a seasoned pro like Jolie's version, but instead a strong-willed 20-something with massive potential. We see her train at an MMA gym, but it’s made clear she isn't the best fighter there. This take on the character certainly works to make her more relatable.
Similar to the setup of the 2001 original, her assumed-deceased father sets her on a mission with a secret letter he left behind. And just like in the 2013 video game reboot, Lara Croft travels by boat to a forgotten Japanese island named Yamatai to find the tomb of Himiko, the Mother of Death. And so starts her arduous adventure and the genesis of her tomb-raiding career.
In theaters now, director Roar Uthaug's Tomb Raider stars Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, Dominic West as Richard Croft, Daniel Wu as Lu Ren, Kristin Scott Thomas as Ana Miller, Hannah John-Kamen as Sophie and Walton Goggins as Mathias Vogel.