When Warner Bros. announced they were rebooting the Tomb Raider franchise, I didn’t get my hopes up. The Angelina Jolie films were a product of their time. Released in 2001, they played it straight as a video game adaptation, to the detriment of the franchise. Sixteen years later, game enthusiasts are still waiting for a video game adaptation that isn’t somewhere between “I will tolerate this because my expectations are low” and “This movie is a cinematic trash fire.”
Then Academy Award-winner Alicia Vikander was cast in the role of Lara Croft. Still, I told myself not to get my hopes up. I’d been burned before. So many times. Super Mario Bros. Doom. Prince of Persia. Assassin’s Creed. Hollywood is littered with the broken dreams and box office deficits of video game adaptations past. It didn’t matter if Vikander was a great actress. I would not get my hopes up again.
But I am weak, reader. So weak. Now that both official imagery of Vikander as Croft and the plot synopsis have been revealed, my resolve is crumbling. Why? Because the reboot looks to be taking its cues from the fantastic new Tomb Raider games that were penned by Rhianna Pratchett. With her writing, Lara Croft morphed from an “Indiana Jones + James Bond + Boobs” to a fully-fledged character with motivations, relationships, and emotional baggage. The new games also shed Croft’s sexpot image for a young explorer with proportions that wouldn’t cause her to topple over when she stood upright, a look that wouldn’t require an actress to wear an elaborate push-up stunt bra.
The Tomb Raider film won’t pull directly from the new game franchise, but its fingerprints are all over the plot synopsis. This Lara is young and inexperienced, not a hardened raider of tombs. Her father died under mysterious circumstances. And, most importantly, she finds her mettle tested on a mysterious island full of secrets and danger.
Lara Croft is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished when she was scarcely a teen. Now a young woman of 21 without any real focus or purpose, Lara navigates the chaotic streets of trendy East London as a bike courier, barely making the rent, and takes college courses, rarely making it to class. Determined to forge her own path, she refuses to take the reins of her father’s global empire just as staunchly as she rejects the idea that he’s truly gone. Advised to face the facts and move forward after seven years without him, even Lara can’t understand what drives her to finally solve the puzzle of his mysterious death.
Going explicitly against his final wishes, she leaves everything she knows behind in search of her dad’s last-known destination: a fabled tomb on a mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan. But her mission will not be an easy one; just reaching the island will be extremely treacherous. Suddenly, the stakes couldn’t be higher for Lara, who—against the odds and armed with only her sharp mind, blind faith and inherently stubborn spirit—must learn to push herself beyond her limits as she journeys into the unknown. If she survives this perilous adventure, it could be the making of her, earning her the name tomb raider.
Tomb Raider doesn’t open until March 16, 2018 and production stills and publicity can be deceiving. But maybe this is it. The film that will break the video game adaptation curse. I mean, it has to happen eventually, right?