Jerome Maida writes for Bleeding Cool:
Trying a new take on any popular character is a daunting task. When it involves Lara Croft — one of the most popular video game characters of all time, one of the most popular female action heroines in any medium, and an icon that was played by Angelina Jolie in two films — there is no exaggerating the importance many will place on it.
That’s the challenge facing the cast and crew of the new Tomb Raider film that opened earlier this month. It is a particular challenge for Alicia Vikander and Walton Goggins, who play the titular heroine and villain, respectively.
Either Vikander or Goggins are in every scene of the movie, so whether the new film connects with audiences and a rabid fanbase rests in large part on their shoulders. It is clear in exclusive quotes given to Bleeding Cool that they understand the challenge Tomb Raider presents. Vikander feels the strength of the film is that it focuses on a personal story, rather than pyrotechnics and stunts. She says:
“It really is a coming-of-age story. In the beginning, I find it really interesting — in terms of action movies — that you can have this kind of fresh, personal origin story. That’s the way we get to know our character and feel for her, to relate to her on a human level. […] I think it was wonderful that I could play a young woman who’s still trying to find herself in the world. Also, the story with her dad, who has been lost for seven years, and she is determined to find out what happened to him.”
Unlike Jolie’s version, this version of Lara Croft doesn’t have her confidence, swagger, guns — or even her trademark bow and arrow. However, Vikander feels part of the fun is watching her version slowly grow into the character millions have come to love:
“This movie is about when she goes out in the world and all these kind of skills and traits that she has within her. She is forced to push them out during the adventure that she goes on and the challenges that she’s put through. So I think I’m happy that you see that by the end.”
The main character who causes Croft to grow in Tomb Raider is the villainous Mathias Vogel, played by Goggins, who puts her through her paces. Vogel’s main goal is using Croft to find a way to get off a cursed island; in real life, Goggins has one desire for the film:
“If I was granted a wish, I would hope that people — even for a minute — forget that they are watching a movie about Lara Croft through the lens of the video game. Hopefully, they will get caught up in what I got caught up in, which is the story. When people ask me, ‘Is this the video game to finally break out?’ or ‘Is this going to disappoint?’ I don’t know what they’re looking for.”
Of course, Goggins acknowledges that there are certain elements people will expect in a Tomb Raider movie that he feels the picture delivers. He said:
“In order to tell a good story, you have to hit certain marks for people to accept it as Lara Croft. She has a certain look… so, you have to do that. But, beyond that, if you are motivated by the truth of the story, that would allow a woman to come into a place of power — the way that this woman does — hopefully the fans will respond to it.”
Although this is a very different take on Lara Croft, Vikander said she is hopeful fans will appreciate her Croft’s journey.
“She has a lot of fans, so I wanted every single step I took as the character, from the beginning to the end, to have that in mind. I want them to experience her becoming, by the end, the action figure that we all know her to be.”
Tomb Raider is out in theaters now. Have you seen it? Did it meet your expectations? Let us know in the comments.