With the possibility of a movie based on the successful reboot in the future, film studies major Justin "Mack" McGovney looks how this movie might look.

How to make a Tomb Raider reboot movie that would actually be good

With the possibility of a movie based on the successful reboot in the future, film studies major Justin "Mack" McGovney looks how this movie might look.

You can already feel the shivers can you? Another movie based on a video game? Do we all really want another disaster on our hands?!

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Movies based on video games have had a rough past in the history of cinema. With the most recent video game movie critical flop, Hitman: Agent 47, many movie-goers feel assured that making a really good movie off a video game is near impossible. And with a slate of four major video-game movies being released this year (Ratchet and Clank, The Angry Birds Movie, Warcraft, and Assassin’s Creed), one would probably be apprehensive at the thought of seeing one of these movies, based on past game-to-film adaptation attempts.

It’s almost like audiences are conditioned to be afraid to go and see a movie based off a video game. However, movie studios still feel that there is a market for these kind of movies. They wouldn’t keep releasing movies based off video games then, would they?

I, personally, still have a little bit of faith that there actually can be a good video game movie. And I think that the best shot of doing this is by making a movie based off of Tomb Raider

No, not that one! Forget that one!

Well, actually, the previous Tomb Raider movies can serve to influence a new movie based upon the rebooted series.

So what would this movie look like? What can make it good? Here is my view on how Hollywood can successfully create a new Tomb Raider movie based on the rebooted games.

1. Look to the Past

If you are reading this article, chances are that you have possibly seen the original Tomb Raider movies: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003). If you haven’t, I’ll give you a quick rundown.

The original Tomb Raider movies, honestly, were not really “Tomb Raider” movies at all. They were, instead, a vehicle to propel actress Angelina Jolie to being a A-list star. So when watching these movies, you will get the vibe that this isn’t Lara Croft on the screen, but rather Angelina Jolie in tight clothing shooting guns around with reckless abandon (and barely able to hold her English accent together.) And there is not that much “tomb raiding” going on either. There is no sense of adventure, discovery, or intelligence to them.

Instead of having a fun adventure film where Lara Croft begins to unveil the truth behind the most well-known myths and legends, the original Tomb Raider movies were mostly action-packed shooters made to make Angelina Jolie a top actress in Hollywood and to heighten her sex appeal. Not that this is a bad thing — but they just weren’t really Tomb Raider movies. I had always seen Lara Croft, and the Tomb Raider games in general, as being similar to Indiana Jones. The movies failed to portray this in every way possible. 

The opening scene accurately depicts what the two movies are all about in a nutshell:

This scene is so ridiculous that it honestly makes me laugh out loud. They think that THIS is what people want from a Tomb Raider movie? It’s even more of a bummer when you find out that this scene takes place at Lara’s mansion and not in a tomb! A movie called Lara Croft: Tomb Raider tricks you from the start like this? Oh boy.

Overall, these movies aren’t bad. They are probably one of the better video game movies out there, and that’s not saying much. While there are some good aspects, such as having fluid action (though it eventually enters into “so bad, it’s good” territory) and having some pretty darn good lighting, these movies feel like assembly-line productions to hit the marks on the profit margin. Again, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. But when you are trying to make a quality film and try to make it live up to the Tomb Raider name, almost none of things done in the previous two movies will accomplish that. That is, unless Paramount was not trying to do that from the beginning.

2. Use What Makes the Reboot Game Series Good

While this may seem obvious, after showing you what the original movies did, I think that this is the most important point to make. What exactly what makes the new games good? What pros can a new Tomb Raider movie emulate in order to be as good as the game? 

1. Forgoing the “iconic” look.

This might be a controversial pro but, in my opinion, one thing that hampered the original movies was that they wanted someone that matched the “iconic” look of Lara Croft. That’s one reason why they contracted Angelina Jolie. These new games make Lara Croft more of an individual with a real personality, making her seem like a human being rather than a model based on sex appeal. This, to me, is a positive for the new games.

2. Staying away from the Croft mansion.

The mansion was a heavily used location for the movies, possibly to make production costs cheaper. But you can’t raid tombs when you are stuck at home! Tell me, would you rather see 45 minutes of screen time in this environment:

Or this one?:

I know what I want to see if I want to see tomb raiding!

3. Reduced emphasis on the relationship of Lara Croft and her father.

The movies really hammered this theme to death. Not too surprising, since Lara’s father was played by Angelina Jolie’s real father, Jon Voight. That also served to bolster Voight’s star power, rather than show their relationship before his death and his continuing influence on Lara’s life.

The reboot game series, while giving importance to Lara’s relationship to her father, focused on Lara discovering the reality of the world around her, more than just finding out the truth about legends. Lara begins to understand the cruelty and greed of people in the world, thus forcing her to adapt to the harsh realities of the natural world and the human world. 

4. Getting rid of Lara’s Bruce Wayne-like ability to acquire high-tech weaponry.

While not a real issue in the games, this was an outright mistake in the movies. When Lara is prepared with all the right equipment and weaponry from the get-go, how does tomb raiding become adventurous? It reduces the tension of the action scenes. The games made action meaningful and tense by forcing Lara to improvise and use her own survival skills. And this was done perfectly in the rebooted game series. It feels real — unlike being prepared for anything and everything, even giant moving monster statues.

If a new Tomb Raider movie followed these four major points, it would blow away the original movies. It will be more authentic to its source material, rather than an assembly-line produced hashing of it.

The new games provide an excellent base for what the the new movies could look like and should look like. And, seeing Indiana Jones returning to popularity in the last decade, making a movie based on the rebooted Tomb Raider game series could be a gold mine. As long as the producers don’t mess it up or deviate way too far from the source, then they already have a solid movie.

Agree or disagree? Love or hate this opinion? Leave a comment below and start the discussion!

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Image of Justin McGovney
Justin McGovney
Once lost his way, but has found his way back. Originally from Downey, California, Justin McGovney is a graduate in English and Theatre from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. He is currently a contributor at GameSkinny. His favorite games are the Metal Gear Series, Persona 5, and God of War. He loves dogs, speaks German and is currently studying Chinese and Japanese.