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Tomb Raider reboots abound

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Videogame reboot confirmed, can a movie reboot be far behind?

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider and Lara Croft have have caused some bitter debates, and not just over the official cup size (FYI, videogame Lara is a 36DD, movie Lara is a 36D). It divided the opinions of viewers and gamers, both hardcore and tourists. Basically, with either, you loved it or hated it – there was very little middle ground. In terms of the movie, most critics leaned toward 'hate it'. Check out the critics' review quotes on the first Tomb Raider movie:

It might be easier to list the things that were good about Tomb Raider, but little comes to mind. – Joe Lozito, Big Picture, Big Sound
In the department of numbing ineptitude, the pacing runs a neck-and-neck race with the dialogue. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
This just in: Women have breasts! – Scott Weinberg, eFilmCritic.com

With confirmation of the videogame reboot (due out from Crystal Dynamics for Christmas 2011), surely a movie reboot / prequel / (insert movie trend word here) isn’t far behind?

Rumored since 2006, Tomb Raider 3 the movie was indeed intended to be a prequel, which would eliminate Angelina Jolie reprising the role. Those rumors sparked mass speculation that Megan Fox would be Lara Croft in Tomb Raider 3. (That, however, was before the triple Fox debacle: Transformers 3, Jennifer's Body and dear god, Jonah Hex). The movie was said to be in early development in 2009, when Dan Lin confirmed the project’s status at a screening of Terminator: Salvation. That seems like a hundred years ago now, though; Dan Lin’s been a bit busy with the Sherlock Holmes movie and sequel, and loads of other projects. Anyway, Untitled Lara Croft Tomb Raider project is listed as in development on IMDB, for a 2012 release. All bets are on this: a massive success for the video game reboot just might actually make the movie happen.

A convergence of events led to the videogame reboot.  First, a marketing group conducted a poll back in June of 2010 to see if there would be much public interest in a videogame reboot.  While some gamers rejected the idea, citing a previous reboot (2006’s Anniversary was intended as one), enough interest was shown to pursue a brand-new Lara Croft adventure. Once Lara was offered as an option, Crystal Dynamics apparently resurrected an old horror survival game whose development had been halted: excerpts from a blog of one of the original developers show the bones of a Lady Croftian adventure.

You can definitely see the bones of the new Lara Croft bad guys:

Concept art for bad guys in the upcoming Tomb Raider videogame reboot (2011)

In the original drawings for the unnamed horror-survival game bad guys:

Concept art for bad guys in the upcoming Tomb Raider videogame reboot (2011)

So there's really no shame in the Tomb Raider videogame reboot. Videogames are re-imagined, and changed, with every new developer and with every new platform, and with every great leap forward in technology there is a corresponding opportunity for a change to a gaming experience. If a game character is strong enough to hold a large audience’s interest through several re-imaginings, then so be it. Will that hold true for the movie? While fine for super-lazy Sunday afternoon mindless entertainment, the first two Tomb Raider movies were not great. Not even really good. But on the other hand, Angelina Jolie absolutely personified Lara Croft. Does remaking a movie at this point highlight the dearth of imagination in Hollywood, or is this an opportunity for recreating a movie on the same scale as the new Tomb Raider game appears to have changed the game?

Maybe the opportunity presented for the videogame, in introducing a back story to the Lara Croft character, is the same for the film. While the character is great, iconic in fact, there is only a hint of back story – there’s no complete explanation of what drives her, in either medium. The only explanation for Lara Croft's Tomb-Raideriness in the first film is creepy daddy issues, which, while possible, is hardly a compelling back story. This is the problem that the videogame reboot attempts to resolve; the opportunity that it can exploit. Plus, gamers are an unexpectedly sentimental bunch - playing on fond memories just might be a winner.

Does anyone else think that one of the biggest changes from Lara Croft Mark One to the new game is that the character has gone from looking like Angelina Jolie to looking like a younger Hilary Swank?


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