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CANON-BALLS: THE STRANGE STORY OF 2018’S TOMB RAIDER

2018’s Tomb Raider film will have things in common with 2013’s reboot — but it’s not the same story. Why, then, is it being talked about as though it is?

MISTAKEN IDENTITY

When I last wrote about 2018’s attempt to bring Lara Croft back to the big screen, we had neither an official photo of Alicia Vikander in the titular role, nor a synopsis of the film itself.

Now, a few weeks later, we have both, and while it’s that synopsis I really want to discuss here, I have to touch on those photos first.

In my previous article, I expressed the belief that, though underwhelming in the unofficial snaps, Vikander’s Lara would undoubtedly look fantastic when officially revealed. I’m afraid, however, that I’m going to have to eat those words. Though I can’t say I have a problem with the image in which she stands covered in dust, the others (like their unofficial predecessors) simply scream ‘cosplay’ to me — which isn’t intended a criticism of cosplayers, but a statement that great many of them are simply doing a much better job.

I can’t put my finger on exactly why — and I fully intend to wait and see how she fares before forming a definitive opinion — but I just don’t buy Vikander as Lara.

In another of the more recent shots, we get the full picture. Lara stands fully costumed, bow in one hand, signature climbing axe in the other — well, ‘signature’ for the Lara of the rebooted games, that is.

This — as much as she might look like her — is not the same character.

Without an official synopsis, there was some confusion over this at the time of my previous article. Now, however…

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.

So, you see — despite some undeniable similarities — the film’s Lara can’t be the Lara we’ve been getting to know since 2013.

In-game, there’s no question of whether Richard Croft is dead. Lara knows he’s gone, and while she eventually sets out to restore his ruined reputation, her initial expedition to that ‘mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan’ has little do with him. Additionally, she works in a bar to pay her way whilst attending the University of London, rather than ‘rarely making it’ to college classes.

Now, here’s the thing: though this disparity does pave the way for needless confusion, there’s nothing really wrong with it. Films take liberties with their source material all the time — even my favourite film has very little in common with the book on which it’s based — and while it bugs me, I’m also willing to admit that it’s pretty much a non-issue.

If that were all there is to it, I’d put my grumbles out there and leave it at that. However…

CANON-BALLS

In an official Q&A, when dealing with the question of whether Tomb Raider will take place in the rebooted universe, Crystal Dynamics states:

Tomb Raider will take place in the reboot universe established by Crystal Dynamics’s award-winning game of the same name… MGM and Warner Bros.… have the creative freedom to best translate Lara’s journey to the big screen.

Eh?

The latter half of that statement definitively contradicts the former. If the folks behind the film have some degree of creative film, then surely it would be more appropriate to state that they’re crafting a story inspired by that of Crystal Dynamics’s award-winning game of the same name.’

Instead, though, it’s stated — again, definitively — that the film will take place in the ‘universe established’ by the game. And that, friends, simply doesn’t make sense.


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