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Could ‘Tomb Raider’ be the first genuinely good video game movie?

Will the video game movie curse ever be broken?

Could ‘Tomb Raider’ be the first genuinely good video game movie?
25 September 2017

The video game movie curse is a real thing people! There’s never been a good film adaptation of a video game, and I really mean it when I say ‘never’. Yet, every time there’s a new one heading to cinemas - case in point, the new Tomb Raider film - we ask ourselves the same question: will this be the first to actually be any good?

The answer to that question so far has been ‘no’ every single time. Shall we start listing the terrible movies adapted from popular video game properties (it’s a long a depressing list)? Super Mario Bros., Hitman, Hitman: Agent 47, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Warcraft, Doom, Silent Hill, Street Fighter, Max Payne… Even the recent Assassin’s Creed film was disappointing - and we had such high hopes.

When Resident Evil, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Silent Hill and Street Fighter (which is utter tosh, despite it having its many vocal, if completely misguided, fans) are battling it out to be crowned the ‘Best Video Game Movie Ever’, then you know you have a problem. Even the original Angelina Jolie Lara Croft movies are distinctly: not good. They’re only really remembered for featuring her in tight T-shirts and really short shorts.

It’s difficult to pin down one concrete reason which can explain why these films have been so bad. It could be that the format just doesn’t translate well to cinema. Perhaps it’s the feeling of ownership of people cultivate playing games that’s lost on the big screen. Or maybe it’s merely because you can’t control anything that happens.

Jean-Claude van Damme in 1994’s Street Fighter

Video games have also become so cinematic in of themselves that, over time, action games essentially feel like playing your very own blockbuster. Take the Uncharted series and even the recent Tomb Raider games, which take the beats, plotting and pacing of Hollywood thrillers, but allow you to play an active part. Yet, you could also conversely argue that this should it simpler to turn these interactive experiences into epic cinematic events.

So onto the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot. Square Enix is ramping up its attempts to make the first Genuinely Good video game movie. They tried, and failed miserably last year with Michael Fassbender’s Assassin’s Creed, however Tomb Raider could very well be the film to buck the trend.

The recent trailer makes it look properly OK. And in a genre that delivered real stinkers like Tekken (0% on Rotten Tomatoes), ‘OK’ would be the best we’ve ever had. They’ve obviously stuck very close to the recent Tomb Raider video game, which successfully rebooted the game franchise to the level where it’s now directly competing with Naughty Dog’s Uncharted franchise for the crown of best action adventure video game series.

The 2013 video game starts off with Lara Croft going on her first ever expedition aboard the ship the Endurance in search of the lost kingdom of Yamatai. But things don’t go according to plan when, after a brutal storm, she find herself stranded on a mystical island having to fend for herself (and raid tombs of course) in an unknown and dangerous setting.

Alicia Vikander will be bringing the iconic adventurer/explorer, Lara Croft, back to the big screen and she’s obviously spent a lot of time in the gym so that she can nail her on-screen running and long jumping skills. Jolie was famed for doing all her own stunts in the original movies, and it looks as though Vikander’s followed suit.

It’s Vikander’s involvement that has me the most excited for Tomb Raider. She’s a spectacular actor with an already impressive portfolio: A Royal Affair, The Danish Girl and The Man From U.N.C.L.E (which I have a real soft spot for) to name a few. She’s always the best thing about the movies she’s in, but it was her work in Ex Machina that made me realise what an incredible talent she is.

Not only was the film brilliant, but it also demonstrated her huge acting range and proved, to me at least, that she can literally do anything, including portraying one of the most iconic video game characters of all time, Lara Croft, on the big screen.

Tomb Raider also promises to be a more stripped back affair than the previous overblown bells-and-whistles movies, and will feature a Lara Croft having to survive in all the extreme conditions that the island of Yamatai has to throw at her: wind, snow, lightning and rain… lots of rain. It’ll almost be like watching the Bear Grylls movie, just with more guns, fighting, killing, tomb raiding, explosions, magic (yeah, there will be magic in this movie) and Vikander, which can only be a good thing.

And judging by its trailer, the movie is going to follow a very similar plot to that of the game, although there’s a lot more about Lara’s deceased father, played by Dominic West. He’ll be joined by fellow brits: Kristin Scott Thomas and Shaun of the Dead’s Nick Frost, and we all know that neither of them have appeared in a bad movie, at least, according to my knowledge. Walton Goggins, who you might know from Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, will be playing the film’s villain, which should be value in of itself. Tomb Raider promises brutal fights, nail biting chases, huge explosions, peril, and… hunting(?)… And better yet, there are no short shorts to be seen in this trailer.

That said, like all other video game movies before it, Tomb Raider could end up being a total mess. Yet, the fact that they are sticking so closely to the plot of the recent video game gives me faith that, if nothing else, it’ll be a good time in the cinema. If you’ve played the game then you’ll know how much fun it is, and the story ain’t half bad either. One thing’s for sure, it’ll be very different from the Jolie Tomb Raider movies, and hopefully for the better.

Tomb Raider is coming to UK cinemas on March 18th, 2018.

(Images: AllStar)