Behind the scenes of Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider catapults onto ODEON screens on 16th March. Going behind the scenes, we explain why this new game-to-film reboot is going to revive the Lara Croft legend.


ALICIA VIKANDER AS LARA CROFT

When Alicia Vikander was announced as the new Lara Croft, it was clear the new approach for the character on the big screen.

Not only is the Swedish actress an Oscar winner (for her mesmerising turn in period romp The Danish Girl), she’s also a dab hand in the action stakes: both 2014’s Ex Machina and 2016’s Jason Bourne saw her kicking big-style butt.

Determined to live up to the hype surrounding her casting, Vikander hit the gym hard to become Tomb Raider’s celebrated adventuress, packing on 12 pounds of pure muscle. She hit the gym seven days a week in the months leading up to shooting, cycling through different workouts like MMA, rock climbing, and even archery.

Vikander is every inch Lara Croft, an unapologetic heroine for the smartphone age.

 A NEW APPROACH TO FILM BASED ON VIDEO-GAMES

Can a video game movie evolve into something artistically and financially respectable? 

If you’re concerned that Tomb Raider is just another game-to-film adaptation, we can tell you’re wrong. First of all, it is based on the 2013 reboot of the franchise, which means having a different approach to the story as source material. Secondly, the way video-games are developed has matured over the years: no longer a simple storyline used only to fill the gaps between action sequences, but the story is now an integral component to the game, with more believable characters, a coherent plot and deeper themes than ever before.

All of this translates to the screen, with a story capable to surprise us. Writers Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons have made the film an origins story and when we first meet Lara, she’s a mixed-up 21-year-old working as a bike courier in East London. The audience gets to see how the legend of Lara Croft – the orphaned-rich-girl-turned-world-famous explorer – begins. Rather than being the invulnerable super-heroine of before, we got to see Lara Croft becoming Tomb Raider.

LOCATIONS AND PRODUCTION DESIGN

The Tomb Raider reboot is predominantly set in two locations: Lara’s home city of London and the mysterious island where her archeologist father went missing when she was a child.

Croft Manor, meanwhile – Lara’s ancestral home – is actually Wilton House, a sumptuous country manor in the heart of Wiltshire near Salisbury. 

Cape Town was chosen as the setting for the exotic island scenes and it’s here that production designer Gary Freeman (Maleficent, Allied) really earned his spurs. Vikander has described Freeman’s set design for Empress Himiko’s tomb – the grave she raids in the movie – as “the most beautiful set I’ve seen”. Prepare your eyes! 


A ROARING DIRECTOR

Tomb Raider is the first film directed by Roar Uthaug outside his native Norway. His last film, disaster epic The Wave, was officially put forward for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film, and he has also previously directed action-thriller Escape and horror Cold Prey.

His talent and flexibility among different genres suggest a willingness to find a different approach to an action film such Tomb Raider.  Although it seems to show some epic action-heavy scenes, having Ulthaug leading the project might means less shooting and more ‘atmosphere’ like in the successful videogames. 

‘"I think making Lara Croft feel like a real human being, that’s definitely something we want to bring to the big screen” said the director  "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”.

Christopher Robin
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