Tomb Raider: Less sexy, more action – still dull?
The new Tomb Raider trailer shows a fresh approach to a character considered the biggest sex symbol in the video-game world.
Action-packed, grittier, darker and featuring a Lara Croft with a lot more clothes on, the remake of the seminal video game shows a heroine that is less willing to seduce her fans.
Alicia Vikander takes on the role first brought to the big screen by Angelina Jolie in 2001 and, judging from the two-minute-long trailer released on Tuesday, the Oscar-winning actress is ready to leave the sex-symbol image on the shelf and become a feminist icon.
When the game first came out in 1996, Lara Croft was instantly recognised as a pioneer, the first main female heroine in an industry largely dominated by men.
But the character soon became a paradox.
She was a feminist icon in revealing clothes who moaned sensually every time she jumped over a bridge or climbed a wall.
By the time Jolie picked up her guns, Croft was little more than a sexy, adventurous girl for gamers to lust over.
The new film, directed by Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug, seems to want to bring back Lara’s old spirit, showing a younger heroine in search of her missing father.
It’s a fresh, welcome approach and Vikander seems to fit the mould by giving the character a speed and strength that was missing from the first two films.
Like Jolie before her, the actress comes straight from an Oscar win to a dicey franchise whose success has been mostly attributed to the over-sexualisation of its main star.
On the other hand, it offers Vikander the opportunity to headline her own big-budget film, riding the wave of Wonder Woman’s feminist success.
“She has all the fierce, tough, curious, intelligent traits,” Vikander said of Croft. “But we’ve stripped away all of her experience. She hasn’t gone on an adventure just yet.
“This is the beginning.”
So why does a fresh take on an action-packed film featuring treasure hunters and a strong cast seem so dull?
Hollywood’s track record of adapting video games has always been terrible.
From Resident Evil’s (many) fiascos, to Hitman’s insufferable plot and the even worse Assassin’s Creed, video game films tend to be boring because their premise only works as a starting point.
The games are written in a bland, uncomplicated way, which gives whoever is playing the freedom to shape the character by choosing its path.
That doesn’t translate to film, and Lara Croft is no different.
A rich, privileged girl who loses her father and uses her fortune to travel through underdeveloped countries exploring their heritage may very well work if you’re the one fighting bears and zombies yourself – but feels flat if you have to sit through it at the cinema.
The trailer also fails to deliver any thrills when it comes to the action sequences, which seem exaggerated and fake – even for gaming standards.
The remake is unlikely to lure vintage gamers to the cinema or capture the interest of film critics.
Its only chance of box office success is if it somehow emulates the feminist aura of Wonder Woman – a new niche Warner Bros seems desperate to raid.
:: Tomb Raider hits UK cinemas March 2018.