2018 is shaping up to be the most progressive year in the history of movies, with black filmmakers helming major blockbusters like Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time and now for the first time ever, a female actor starring in a Tomb Raider film. It used to be that women were never considered when it came time to cast the leads in big budget action adventures. Well, I’m happy to report that with Tomb Raider (2018), that time has now passed. It’s 2018, and that means a woman can be a Tomb Raider too.
Tomb Raider has been remade and rebooted so many times it can be difficult to keep track of the character’s rich history. Though it originated in the late nineteenth century as a popular series of adventure novels by the British author H. Rider Haggard, it has become best known due to Hollywood’s many adaptations starting with The Tomb Raider (1937) starring Errol Flynn.
After appearing in two sequels, Flynn hung up the pistols for good and the franchise passed into the hands of the Producers Releasing Corporation who turned it into a “B” movie serial of 14 chapters starring Buster Crabbe. A decade later, Burt Lancaster revived the character in the well-received Legend of the Tomb Raider (1954).
The Tomb Raider franchise then entered a period of decline defined by a series of ill-fated misfires including Tomb Raider Returns (1969) starring an aging Robert Mitchum, Tomb Raider: Curse of the Tiger (1987) which famously features Sean Connery wrestling a tiger, and the notoriously expensive box office bomb Tomb Raider’s Revenge (1998) with Billy Zane delivering a typically woeful performance.
Tomb Raider had become a joke by the time Tomb Raider (2004) was released. No one believed in Luc Besson would be able to pull off the impossible and make Tomb Raider a hit once again, but the French maestro of lighthearted action lucked out when he cast Ewan McGregor. The Tomb Raider films with Ewan McGregor (he also starred in 2007’s Tomb Raider: Jewel of the Phoenix) are perhaps the best since Flynn inaugurated the character onscreen.
Given all of this history, it amazes me that the producers of Tomb Raider (2018) felt comfortable tampering with the franchise lore by casting a woman in the title role. Fortunately, they came up with the ingenious solution that is sure to satisfy fans and newcomers alike.
Oscar winner Alicia Vikander plays Lara Croft, the daughter of the original Tomb Raider Lord Richard Croft. Lara receives news that her father was mauled to death by a tiger in the jungles of India (a subtle nod to Connery’s unintentionally hilarious turn as the character), and decides to honor his memory by taking over the family business of raiding tombs.
As Lara Croft, Alicia Vikander finally proves once and for all that women know how to kick ass and raid tombs just as well as men do. This ain’t your father’s Tomb Raider, believe me. Because this Tomb Raider is a woman, and she’s swinging across chasms and exploring crazy underground labyrinths just as if she had a penis and two testicles.
Yeah, this Tomb Raider knows how eat a scarab and drink a bunch of foreign goons under the table with the best of them. Even though she’s a woman, she’s still shooting off pistols and riding around on elephants and stuff. You may have loved past Tomb Raider films just like your daddy and granddaddy, but trust me when I tell you Tomb Raider (2018) don’t skip a beat.
TL;DR – For the first time ever it’s a woman raiding tombs as the daughter of the original Tomb Raider, picking up the pistols and scaling down the side of the temple just like a man do. Good for Alicia Vikander, and good for the progress of womankind.
What the rest of the critics are saying:
“The action is fast-paced, the gags are good to go, and it’s a woman this time. That’s right, Tomb Raider is finally back.” – Fertrude Zelzah, Cinemablend
“True to its B-movie roots, Tomb Raider follows a silly, sensational formula but with an added twist: a woman is playing the main character.” – Jamal-Dean Grootboom, Independent Online
“Tomb Raider is back, baby, and it’s more of a woman than ever!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com
“It’s long past time that a woman finally got to raid a tomb for once.” – Robert Denerstein, Denerstein Unleashed
“I heard they’ve already signed Alicia Vikander to star in back-to-back sequels and I can’t wait to see her be the Tomb Raider again and again and again.” – Pie Corbett, USA Today
“I had no idea you could train a woman to fire a gun. Boy was I wrong!” – Pete Hammond, Deadline
“She’s no Ewan McGregor, but I’ll say this for Alicia Vikander: she sure know how to raid a tomb.” – Santi Nurhayati, Entertainment Weekly
“Next thing you’re going to be telling me there’s a black Tomb Raider!” – Hugo Schlumberger, Iron Triangle
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