Has ‘Tomb Raider’ Broken the Video Game Movie Curse?

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There have been plenty of video game movie adaptations over the years, but critical and financial successes in the genre are few and far between.

With this year’s Tomb Raider, Norwegian director Roar Uthaug and star Alicia Vikander are hoping to follow in the path of one of the few video game films to have resonated with audiences, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. The film is the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time, and it made a box-office giant out of star Angelina Jolie.

While the original film was not exactly lauded by critics (it has a 20 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes), fans of the game franchise and Jolie’s take on the suave, gun-toting, robot-kicking titular tomb raider bolstered a box-office take of more than $155 million and even spawned a sequel in 2003.

Like Jolie, Vikander had already won an Oscar when she signed on to play Lara Croft. The two actresses differ, however, in their portrayals of the character. While the two Jolie-led films of the early 00s showcased a more sexually-charged, over-the-top, quippy Lara (as she was similarly presented in the game series at the time), Vikander’s Croft is more realistic, both in her choice of attire and her physical limitations.

The original Jolie films have been panned by fans and critics for questionable dialogue and set pieces, as well as the sequel’s infamous “shark punching” scene, but Vikander’s turn introduces a more grounded action hero who struggles with the ethical ramifications of taking life and the dangers of traversing unexplored, hostile environments.

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