Lara Croft is back. Starring Alicia Vikander in the title role, the epic feature Tomb Raider reveals an all-new origin story. However, it not only takes audiences inside Lara Croft’s very first adventure. Moreover, it takes us also completely into the heart and mind of a character who, in order to find her place in the world, must connect her future with her past.
With the first Tomb Raider game, Lara Croft’s adventure started 22 years ago. Quickly, the specific mix of Indiana Jones, John McClane and a sexy amazon, swung on her wipe into the hearts of million people. From the beginning, Lara Croft is the most beloved game character. Hence, Tomb Raider is one of the most popular video games ever.
A TIGHT TOP AND SHORT PANTS
Besides the innovative gameplay, of course, Lara Croft’s extraordinary sexy appearance is her unique trademark. Because of her iconic hot-pants and tight top, millions of men became immediately fans of the young adventurous girl.
But far beyond this, also millions of girls and women played at least one of the Tomb Raider games during the last two decades. The reason is simple, yet brilliant. Lara Croft represents the perfect woman. She is smart, powerful, gorgeous, but fragile and naive at the same time.
LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER ON THE BIG SCREEN
Now, the unique character appears on the big screen again.
While Angelina Jolie performed Lara Croft in the first two prequels, the Swedish actress and Oscar winner Alicia Vikander embodies the adventurous young lady.
In contrast to her predecessor, Vikander shows a much more sensitive and thankful side of Lara Croft. She isn’t the superior hero, but a fragile girl who’s looking for her father, whose whereabout is unknown.
Thus, the new movie is very close connected to the latest video game versions of Tomb Raider.
It’s not a story about a super hero, but about a young girl, who has to find her way in life.
The film explores not only the choices she makes but why she makes them. So, we discover how she came to be one of the greatest and most popular action heroes of all time.
The film is peppered with numerous touchstones from the hugely successful, critically acclaimed 2013 “Tomb Raider” videogame. This game was the biggest seller in the entire franchise’s history. It served as a key source of inspiration for the filmmakers, as did the updated take on the character herself.
However, to earn some money, Lara Croft works as a bike courier martial arts fighter. She is alone. Because, seven years ago, her father left her, to follow a mysterious trace. So, Lara’s journey really begins when she’s asked to acknowledge an “official” end to her father’s life. But, feeling cornered, what the rebellious young woman accepts instead is one last puzzle box containing a clue to her dad’s fate. That leads her to believe things might not be so final, after all. What she finds will ultimately take her far from home, even to the farthest corners of the Earth.
Unfortunately, she has opponents. Above all, Mathias Vogel, who wants to find the tomb of the mysterious Japanese queen Himiko. He has no respect for life, to reach his goal.
So, a new adventure starts for Lara Croft.
THE DIRECTOR ABOUT TOMB RAIDER
Director Roar Uthaug, who grew up playing all of the games, states, I was blown away by the game play, and of course by the character of Lara Croft. A kickass girl who solves all the puzzles, avoids all the traps and raids the tombs. But when I saw what they had done with the game in 2013, I was really excited with the authentic, gritty take on the character. I thought it was definitely something that would transfer to the big screen.
ALICIA VIKANDER (Lara Croft)
Alicia Vikander is an Academy Award-winning actress and one of the most promising actors of the young generation. Since making her film debut in “Pure” in 2009, she has garnered recognition for a diverse range of roles.
Her sensitive portrayal of Gerda Wegner in Tom Hooper’s “The Danish Girl” resulted in her winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Furthermore, she won a number of international awards for this role. Besides many other movies, Vikander starred opposite Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz in Derek Cianfrance’s film adaptation of “The Light Between Oceans” in 2017. Vikander married Fassbender in the same year.
DOMINIC WEST (Richard Croft)
West is a well-experienced actor. He performed already in “28 Days,” opposite Sandra Bullock; “Mona Lisa Smile,” with Julia Roberts; and “The Forgotten,” with Julianne Moore. He also starred as Theron in “300.” Furthermore, he played in “Chicago,” “Hannibal Rising,” “The Phantom Menace,” to name just a few.
2014 saw the release of Matthew Warchus’ “Pride,” which opened at the Cannes Film Festival to critical
and audience acclaim, and “Testament of Youth,” alongside Alicia Vikander. Once more, Dominic West stars alongside Alicia Vikander. In Tomb Raider, he plays Lara Croft’s missing father.
WALTON GOGGINS (Mathias Vogel)
Goggins has had pivotal roles in films by two of Hollywood’s most important auteurs: Quentin Tarantino and Steven Spielberg. Goggins’ performed also in “Maze Runner: The Death Cure”. The third installment of the highly successful franchise. Most recently, Walton Goggins sealed a deal to join “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” the sequel to the superhero feature starring Paul Rudd. The film is slated for release on July 6, 2018.
In Tomb Raider, Goggins plays Mathias Vogel, Lara Croft’s opponent.
DANIEL WU (Lu Ren)
Wu is a Chinese-American actor, director, and producer. Actually, graduating with a degree in architecture, Wu moved to Hong Kong in 1997. There, he wanted to witness the transfer of the territory’s sovereignty from the United Kingdom to China.
He performed already alongside his boyhood idol Jackie Chan, in “New Police Story”.
His string of international film hits includes the 2004
remake of “Around the World in 80 Days.” Again, appearing with Chan. Furthermore, Wu played in Quentin Tarantino’s “The Man With the Iron Fists”. Moreover, Wu has already experiences to perform video games characters. So, he played in Duncan Jones’ epic sci-fi adventure “Warcraft” in 2016. It based on the popular game “World of Warcraft.” Finally, Wu recently performed in “Geostorm.”
In Tomb Raider, Wu plays an always drunken, but good-hearted skipper, who helps Lara to find her father.
KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS (Ana Miller)
Scott Thomas is and Oscar nominated and well-honored actress with British-French roots. She performed in “The English Patient”, “Mission Impossible” and “The Horse Whisperer”. Furthermore, she starred in “Gosford Park” and the Oscar-nominated classic comedy, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, to name just a few. In Tomb Raider, Scott Thomas plays Ana Miller, the business partner of Lara Croft’s father.
ALICIA VIKANDER ABOUT TOMB RAIDER
Growing up, Alicia Vikander was also a player, and an even bigger fan of Tomb Raider.
As a young girl, I didn’t have any videogames, so I was always very excited to go to our friends’ houses who did, she recalls. I remember when they played “Lara Croft,” what struck me was that I hadn’t seen a girl being the lead character in a game before. She was not only a woman, but she was extremely fierce, determined and capable, and that really drew me to her. Of course, I was only about ten, so I mostly spent my time in the game doing the training in the big Croft manor!
Vikander, who naturally advanced her level of play as she became a teen and beyond, says, When I heard about this film, I went and bought the newer games as well. It really felt like it was the essence of Lara from the earlier versions, but now we got to follow her from the beginning. For me, she’s like the superheroes and action heroes we love; by seeing their journey to become the ‘super’ versions of themselves, we get to feel close to them and get to understand them, emotionally.
THROUGH LARA’S EYES
Thus, as in the games, the filmmakers aimed for the action in the film to feel real and the audience to feel as if they’re in the midst of it all, experiencing the events through Lara’s eyes: running at full speed, fighting at full force, shooting a bow and arrow while dodging bullets – along with all manner of deadly obstacles – and solving impossibly intricate puzzles with mere seconds to spare.
However, it takes every ounce of strength, skill, smarts and stamina Lara Croft can muster to get through any one of her amped-up exploits. It’s precisely why enthusiasts the world over love her videogames. They drop the player in the middle of the action and take them on the virtual ride of a lifetime. Every time.
A BALLERINA BECOMES LARA CROFT
By the time Vikander arrived for principal photography, she was already well into a rigid training schedule, and in great shape. Nonetheless, it took every ounce of the former professional dancer’s dedication and discipline, both before and during filming, to achieve the incredible physique necessary to play Lara Croft.
THE BALLETT EXPERIENCE
The actress pushed herself past her own limits for the physically and emotionally demanding role, embarking on a journey that was, for her, comparable to her character’s.
There is no one tougher than a ballerina, says Magnus Lygdbäck, world renowned trainer and creator of the Magnus Method, a balance of fitness and mind/body preparation.
Ballet is a hardcore sport, says Vikander, who left the profession more than ten years ago, but didn’t leave her capacity for discipline behind. There were definitely some similarities to how I trained then and what I did for ‘Tomb Raider.
Her recent training also carried over into her life after the film wrapped. Through working on this film, I started to rock climb, and I love it, she reveals.
MAGNUS LYGDBÄCK ABOUT THE TRAINING
Lygdbäck never had to question the actress’s devotion. People always ask me, is it 50-50 nutrition and training? In reality, especially for a role like this, it’s 100 percent and 100 percent,” he asserts. “And Alicia took it even further; she was truly dedicated. If I told her to do 15 reps, she was going to do 16. If I said 20, she did at least 21.
During production, Vikander trained for 45 minutes to an hour every morning before heading to set, working in a customized gym that was built on a 24 meters-long truck.
So, with Lygdbäck’s guidance, Vikander began a combined training and nutrition program seven months prior to filming. However, her workouts included a mix of intense weight training and general activities, such as hiking, on her “off” days.
When you meet Lara in the beginning of the film, she’s a regular girl living in East London, but we wanted the audience to know she is a physical being. You see her sparring with her friends at an MMA gym, and she’s a bike courier who loves to go out and race in the street. She’s a strong girl, and the story sets that tone right away, Vikander relates.
Later, we see her climbing, fighting, going underwater…I don’t know when in life I would have been exposed to try so many new things, if it weren’t for this role! I found it very empowering. For someone petite and not very tall to gain five kilos in muscle, well, it’s quite a big percentage of my body weight, yet I felt extremely feminine.
Her diet, prepared each day by Chef Lesley Tucker, followed Lygdbäck’s strict orders: slow carb and lean protein. Complex carbs included brown rice, quinoa and rice noodles; main sources of protein consisted mainly of salmon, tuna and eggs.
Vikander’s favorite meals were runny eggs, poke and Asian fusion combinations, prepared with healthy oils and spices to wake up the palette. She ate five times a day at three-hour intervals.
Magnus did a fantastic job with Alicia, getting her ready for everything we had to put her through, says Uthaug. She trained really hard, for months, to handle all the stunts, which were in just about every scene.
GAME VS. FILM
In times of 4k video games it’s not easy to transfer the same action to a big screen. Regarding the story, Tomb Raider is quite close to the 2013 video game. The fans of the game can recognize many scenes.
Until today, Tomb Raider – the game – captivates the audience for days. It’s full of emotion, action and thrill. Besides, also after 5 years, the pictures and story are simply amazing.
But, unfortunately, the new Tomb Raider movie doesn’t show the same dense atmosphere and in-depth story. It can’t achieve this high-quality level of the game.
In contrast to the trend, Tomb Raider shows too many CGI scenes (computer generated imagery). Other movies present a better balance between blue-screen and real locations and sets. Nowadays, that balance is important for an authentic story.
And, here is the next problem. However, the story is a bit weak. According to the book, Tomb Raider presents nothing new or surprising. The actors, mind you most of them are awarded artists, perform below their potential.
While you feel with Lara Croft during playing the game, it’s difficult to find a connection to the film adaption. Of course, Alicia Vikander is sweet and beautiful. But, it gives the impression, that the footstep left behind from her predecessors are too big for her.
But, actually, it’s whining on a high level. In any case, Tomb Raider is an entertaining film, full of great action and also a good sense of humor.
Besides, and this is very positive, Alicia Vikander represents the young generation. She embodies a hero, who is closer to the video games. She isn’t unbeatable and super-cool, but fragile, smart, modest and authentic.
Finally, Tomb Raider is certainly not the best film this year. But it’s a good action movie not only for fans.
Therefore, we give 7/10 points.