Leave a Comment
The following contains spoilers for the new Tomb Raider movie as well as the 2013 video game of the same name.
Today Tomb Raider hits theaters and Hollywood once again attempts to adapt a video game into a successful movie. While most video game movies tend to take key characters and elements and use them to create an original story, this movie is much more an adaptation of the 2013 Tomb Raider video game, which rebooted the franchise with a more realistic protagonist. The game deals with Lara Croft getting shipwrecked on a mysterious island and fighting to survive against the opposition she finds there. The movie tells the same basic story, but the rest is very different.
As with any adaptation, many elements have been modified or replaced in the shift from a video game to big screen tentpole. Here are the biggest differences between the new Tomb Raider movie and the video game it's based on.
The movie opens with Lara Croft working out in a gym before going to work as a bike messenger/delivery person. We get to see her life at home and the sort of person that she is before she heads off on her adventure. The game starts off with the action immediately, opening with the shipwreck that ends Act I of the movie. The game gives us background later in the form of video footage recorded before the wreck, which Lara watches at a few points, as well as through conversations with other characters. We only see what Lara is capable of as she does it, or since it's a game, as the player does it.
The inciting incident of the new Tomb Raider movie is the fact that Lara Croft discovers what her father was doing just before he disappeared, leading her to follow in his footsteps and head for the island of Yamati. In the game, Lara's father is only mentioned in conversation, he is not a character himself. It's clear that he's dead, though what happened to him is not revealed until the sequel game Rise of the Tomb Raider. The trip to Yamati in the game is undertaken as a simple archeological expedition based on Lara's theory of where a lost civilization may be found. It just happens to go sideways.
In the film, Lara Croft ends up traveling to Yamati with Lu Ren, the son of the man who joined her father on the same trip. In the game, Lara is a member of an entire crew of people who end up shipwrecked. Many of them are old friends of Lara's father. One is actually a reality TV personality who is filming the expedition to further his own career. Rescuing them and getting off the island is actually Lara's primary goal throughout most of the game. Figuring out what's going on with the long-dead queen Himiko is simply a means to that end. She mostly succeeds, though some members of the crew never make it out.
Mathias is the main antagonist in the Tomb Raider movie and is played by the great Walton Goggins. Mathias is also the main bad guy in the video game, but the two characters couldn't be more different. In the game, Mathias is a man who, like Lara, had been shipwrecked on Yamati, only he's been there for decades. Storms have caused hundreds of people to end up on the island over the years and they've also kept anybody from leaving, as they seem to begin anytime an attempted escape takes place. Mathias has already "found" Himiko by the time we meet him in the game, his only goal is to find a way off the island, and he believes he's found one when he kidnaps a friend of Lara. In the film, Mathias is a member of an organization called Trinity who has left him stranded on the island until he completes his mission of finding the tomb.
And speaking of Trinity, the organization that is at the heart of all of Lara's problems in the Tomb Raider movie is part of the video game franchise and it exists as a very similar entity. However, Trinity only becomes a major issue in the sequel game Rise of the Tomb Raider. The only way that you ever hear the name Trinity in the 2013 game is if you pick up enough collectible objects over the course of the game to unlock some hidden messages, even then what Trinity is, is not clear to Lara. Mathias is not part of Trinity in the game, and in fact, the info you do get in the game tells you Trinity actually supports killing Mathias and destroying the Sun Queen, rather than finding her, because she's a potential threat to them.
It's an interesting aspect of the game that rebooted a series called Tomb Raider, but at no point in the game are you actually required to raid any tombs. There are tombs in the game, but they're optional side quests. In the game, Himiko's body is discovered in the middle of the game, and it's just sort of happened upon accidentally. There are no traps or puzzles standing between Lara and the queen. The climactic part of the game has you scale a mountain in the snow to rescue a friend rather than spelunking into a cave inside a mountain.
The Tomb Raider movie plays with the idea that Himiko was some sort of supernatural force throughout its run, but in the end, it turns out that there is no actual magic taking place. That's quite the opposite of the game. There, Himiko was a near-immortal queen who survived for centuries by transferring her life force from one body to another. However, one such transfer did not go as planned and Himiko's soul was left, alive, but inside a corpse.. She has been causing storms that keep people from leaving the island ever since until she can be presented with a new vessel to inhabit. lara never believes in the magic in the film anyway, though she has no problem accepting the supernatural explanation in the game.