In mid-March, we’ll be getting the first Tomb Raider film since 2003’s Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. This time around, Alicia Vikander stars as a younger Lara Croft as she boldly attempts to uncover the secrets behind her father’s disappearance. Her search takes her to the uncharted island of Yamatai, where a secretive organisation known as Trinity, awaits her. Tomb Raider will explore Croft’s journey as she slowly develops from a young, reckless girl into the fearless, history-loving adventurer of decades past.
Already, fans of the series recognize that the film will be incorporating elements from the rebooted Tomb Raider video game series. Square Enix’s 2013 Tomb Raider and the 2016 sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider. The costumes and design of the characters, the locations and some of the action sequences we’ve seen seem to have been taken straight out of these games. Still, it’s too early to say whether or not the studio has done right by Lara. After all, many video game films successfully replicate the aesthetic of the source material, but fail when it comes to putting substance behind it.
A perfect example is Assassin’s Creed, for which Ubisoft — the video game developer behind the franchise — had full creative control. If anyone were to understand the importance of elaborating on the historical setting, it should have been the company that owns the franchise. But while the set and costumes were well designed and faithful to the video games they were based on, the film was justifiably criticized for being poorly written and focusing too heavily on spectacle and otherwise meaningless action sequences. Set during the Spanish Inquisition, the film, unlike the video games, did nothing to explain its setting or the technology and characters that united it with its modern day counterpart.
That’s a flaw shared by most, if not all video game film adaptations. They tend to look a lot like their video game counterparts, but fail to capture the depth and complexity that drew fans in in the first place. Of course, that’s not always necessary. In fact, the Tomb Raider films of the early 2000’s were anything but deep or complex.
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