Will 'Tomb Raider' Break the Video Game Curse?

Lara Croft is reborn in the new trailer for Tomb Raider.

The video game movie genre has been a tough one to crack, but hopes are high for the adaptation starring Oscar winner Alicia Vikander. In honor of the new look, the team at Heat Vision has assembled to share their thoughts on the trailer as the film gets closer to its March 16 release.

Aaron Couch: I ask this every time one of these movies comes out, but could this be the one that breaks the video game curse? I maintain that 1995's Mortal Kombat is still the pinnacle of video game-to-film adaptations, but that falls more in the campy fun category. We're still waiting for a game-changing movie that gets critical and commercial acclaim. The new trailer and the buzz for Tomb Raider has me more convinced this will be the one that breaks through. With movies like Sony's ill-fated Assassin's Creed, there had been a collective groan leading up to them, but here the marketing has been good at creating the impression this movie will work. I didn't see the Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider films, yet I'm excited to check this one out. 

Lauren Huff: ... You've never seen the original Tomb Raider movies?! That shocking tidbit aside, I would say that they also fell into the campy fun category, so the most interesting thing about this reboot to me was what tone they were going for. I'm not sure the trailer answered that question, and it worries me a little that the film might not quite know, either.

Patrick Shanley: Clearly, Mortal Kombat is the gold standard of video game movies — the theme song alone gives it that title. I'm gonna say it's a resounding "no," however, when it comes to this new Tomb Raider being the film that bucks the trend of bad video game movies. And I hope I'm wrong. I think Alicia Vikander was an interesting choice (she has an Oscar, she's done action films but hasn't led one yet) for Lara, but I don't know if she's a draw on star power alone, unlike Jolie in the early 2000s. My biggest disappointment is the lack of actual tombs we see in this trailer. A cave is not a tomb. A rusty airplane is not a tomb. Where are the tombs!?

Graeme McMillan: This is the first existential metaphorical video game movie, making the point that all life is a tomb, Patrick. We're always in the tomb, and Lara is telling us all to "raid" it. I think you understand. I joke, but this trailer feels like it's trying far too hard to convince the audience that it's a different kind of video game movie — a Tomb Raider movie, specifically — and I'm not sure it works. It feels astonishingly slow, and also as if it's pushing Lara into a passive role for the majority of it, which feels like it's missing the appeal of the franchise, surely.

Katie Kilkenny: I'd disagree with "passive," given that this trailer sets up a kind of hero origin story that will culminate with Lara kicking butt and leaping across a chasm to mace a cave wall, similar to those that started Batman Begins and the many Spider-Mans. Another adjective I'd go for here is "standard": We've got the foundational trauma; the dad who was up to more than it seemed; a respected character actor in a lead role (Walton Goggins!); and a whispery, chorus version of a hit song for the trailer. That said, after Wonder Woman reframed the superhero stand-alone, I'm still holding out hope that this latest Tomb Raider could do something similar.

Huff: I am going to have to agree with Katie, here, in that I do not agree that Lara seems to be passive. This feels like her own movie, even if it is about her being in search of her father. As an origin story, there is nothing wrong with that to me. However, I agree with Graeme about the trailer feeling slow — and I don't know if that ultimately comes down to the editing here or what. Hopefully the finished product is a bit ... snappier.

Couch: We're soon hitting a period of a few weeks that'll have big-budget blockbusters with female leads all coming out in a row. There's Annihilation (Feb. 23), Red Sparrow (March 2), A Wrinkle in Time (March 9) and finally Tomb Raider (March 16). People are hungry for these movies and Tomb Raider could be a good way to cap off that four-week streak at the box office.

McMillan: Cap off a streak or play against each other? I mean, I think A Wrinkle in Time and Tomb Raider might not have a significant crossover in terms of audiences, but is there really anything beyond name recognition that this movie gives us that we're not getting in those three earlier movies? 

Kilkenny: I'd argue that Tomb Raider is wildly different from each of those unique films in that, historically at least, it's a franchise that had a strong appeal for men, and that feminists often railed against. This movie's challenge is to shake off the old musty reputation that Lara is a male gamer's ideal woman and make her a heroine for all audiences. Put another way: Lara Croft is different enough from the Biologist, Dominika Egorova and Meg Murry that they'll only be playing off one another in the sense that they'll be appealing to different crowds.

Shanley: The last few years have given us some pretty great female-led action films between Mad Max: Fury Road (let's be real, Charlize Theron led that film), Atomic Blonde (also Theron) and Wonder Woman — audiences clearly aren't afraid of a female badass. The only thing that irks me about this new Tomb Raider film is that it seems to be based off the recent reboots of the game franchise that moves Lara Croft from an Indiana Jones, globe-trotting archeologist type to a more grounded intellectual searching for her missing father. I'm not saying I don't like the new Lara, I just prefer the old because she was a bit more independent and doing things on her own. Think more Raiders of the Lost Ark's Indy as opposed to Last Crusade's Henry "Indiana" Ford. They're both great movies, but I prefer the original. 

McMillan: Neither of those movies had slowed-down versions of Destiny's Child songs, though; that's where this really shows its mettle. 

Huff: I agree completely with Patrick here. The biggest problem from the beginning with this project for me was, did this really need to be made? I am definitely willing to give this a shot, but it verges into "unnecessary remake" territory for me. 

Kilkenny: I'll be interested to see how Vikander plays as an action heroine. I sympathize with criticisms that she can be a bland actress, but man was she foreboding in Jason Bourne. Besides, action heroes aren't there to bring flavor to the movie — that's Walton Goggins' job.