Breaking the curse
Could this year’s Tomb Raider be the first great video-game movie?
TOMB RAIDER IS a big deal for Norwegian director Roar Uthaug. He’s made features before, but only in his native tongue — this Lara Croft reboot, starring Alicia Vikander, is his first big studio picture. And if that didn’t invite enough pressure, he also has to contend with the issue that there’s never been a good film based on a game. But he thinks he knows how to crack it.
“It’s about making the character the focus,” he says. “It’s about what she experiences, and not just action for action’s sake. I love how they made Lara Croft vulnerable in the game, and that’s something we’re bringing to the movie. But there’s lots of great stuff in the game that’s inspired us — the authenticity and the grittiness. That’s something you haven’t seen in a Tomb Raider movie before.”
“The game” is the 2013 Tomb Raider, itself a reboot, which showed Lara’s first adventure where she learned the tombraiding skills with which we’re all so familiar. Shipwrecked on an island off the coast of Japan, she’s attacked by the island’s inhabitants and discovers there are supernatural goings-on. It’s that story that’s the jumping-off point for this film.
Filming started last January in
South Africa, with the cast and crew spending months in and around the picturesque Cape Winelands during the southern hemisphere’s summer.
By the time Empire visits the set, they’ve relocated. To Watford. And it’s pouring with rain. But — and thank goodness for small mercies — they’re shooting inside today. As a testament to the more story-first vision of this version, the scene we witness is refreshingly down-to-earth, with Lara enjoying music in her east London apartment.
Which doesn’t mean to say there’s no action in the film. “All the resources are nice. It means you can dream bigger. We had a big boat on a giant gimble, with rain towers, wind machines and water cannons. We also shot at the Olympic rafting course in Lea Valley. We threw Alicia down the course with her hands tied. But she never complains. You’re used to seeing her in costume dramas, but she can fight. She’s just ferocious.”
Strong characters, great action and a well-cast star: three good reasons to be excited. Curse? What curse?
TOMB RAIDER IS IN CINEMAS FROM 15 MARCH
We braved the rain with Roar Uthaug at Leavesden on 6 June, then met again in London on 17 November.