The iconic Tomb Raider video game franchise returned in 2013 in the form of a reboot from developer Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square Enix which presented the legendary Lara Croft not as a hyper-sexualized teen boy fantasy, but as a grounded, realistic character. Following the young archaeologist stranded on a hostile and isolated island, the solid gameplay and darker tone translated into a huge hit, outselling all previous titles in the series.
2015's Rise of The Tomb Raider proved a success as well, and was our pick as the best game of 2015. Meanwhile, the movie franchise based on the original game series has been gearing toward a reboot for some time, having remained dormant since 2003's Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, which starred Angelina Jolie. The momentum on a new movie has picked up, with Norwegian Roar Uthaug (The Wave) set to direct a script which has seen input from several writers, including Mark Fergus and Hawk Osby (Iron Man), Marti Noxon (Fright Night), Evan Daugherty (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and most recently, Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Transformers 5).
Uthaug recently spoke to IGN (via CBM) about his vision for Lara Croft and how the reboot will be taking some cues from the recent games. When asked if the newer games will directly influence the film, Uthaug said:
"I think making Lara Croft feel like a real human being, that's definitely something we want to bring to the big screen as well. I think we'll want to make people relate to Lara as a character. I'm hoping to bring some of my Norwegian sensibilities to the franchise."
Uthaug has been a fan of Tomb Raider since the first game's release in 1996, and one reason for his excitement about the project is the opportunity to reintroduce the title character to a new audience. Uthaug said, "I've always been a fan of strong female characters and I think I've had strong female characters in all my previous movies, so that's something I thought was interesting."
Uthaug also cited one of the best action-adventure films of all time as not just a favorite but also a template for what he aims to achieve with Tomb Raider. Uthaug said:
"Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of my favorite films growing up, so it's definitely a dream to work in that kind of genre. I think we'll want to make it feel like a modern action movie and to make what's going on feel like it's going on for real."
To be clear, Raiders of the Lost Ark is not realistic, but the latest Tomb Raider games aim for a balance between Raiders-like thrills and a grounded narrative. It's safe to expect that a new Tomb Raider movie will be geared toward escapism rather than the reality-minded tone of something like Zero Dark Thirty, but Uthaug's clear reverence for the source material could blend well with his experience, having directed several action thrillers in his native country (Cold Prey, Escape).
Since Raiders of the Lost Ark was a clear inspiration for Lara Croft's adventures in the first place, it makes a certain amount of sense to aim for something that toes the line between dark, gritty realism and the action escapism of Indiana Jones. While the tone of the movie reboot will likely match that of the games, it is unclear at this point whether or not the film's plot will do the same. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
The Tomb Raider movie reboot is currently in development.