In retrospect, it’s easy to see a few mistakes that were made with the Tomb Raider movie franchise, which still remains the most commercially successful transition of video game to the silver screen to date.
The casting, to be fair, was bang on, with Angelina Jolie a terrific Lara Croft. But the tepid script to the first film made it a laborious affair, and even though it brought home the financial bacon, there are few out there who claim to love it.
When it came to ratchet things up for the second instalment, The Cradle Of Life, some nutter at Paramount then decided that it’d be a good idea to ask Jan De Bont to direct the film. Now De Bont has proven in the past that he can bang out a cracking blockbuster, as those of us who gripped our seats back in 1994 during Speed can testify.
But sadly, there’s also the weightier argument that the man has directed one good film, and that’s your lot. Granted, Twister was a passable enough exercise in special effects, but Speed 2? The Haunting? Those weren’t just bad films: they were terrible, terrible movies. Sadly, it was the De Bont who directed those films, rather than the original Speed, who turned up to help bury the Tomb Raider franchise, and The Cradle Of Life subsequently underwhelmed at the box office.
De Bont is now working on a new Point Break movie, but rumours of a third Tomb Raider haven’t gone away, although it’s safe to say a new director is likely to get the call. It also looks like talk of Angelina Jolie returning to the franchise is premature, with the current running favourite for a ‘rebooted’ Tomb Raider being Transformers star Megan Fox. Naturally, nobody is confirming or denying this story at the moment, but it’s been widely reported, and has some plausibility to it.
Perhaps the biggest problem Paramount faces here, though, is the state of the videogame franchise itself, which is suffering from disappointing sales, and failing to pick up the momentum itself after it was ‘rebooted’ a few years ago. That said, a third film may prove to be the shot in the arm the entire franchise – game and film – needs?
27 January 2009