When Tomb Raider rebooted in March of 2013, I jumped in with both feet. I loved this new take on the character, as we saw her vulnerability and inexperience starting to form her into the jaded badass treasure hunter she was on the original Playstation games. When the movie reboot, starring Alicia Vikander and directed by Roar Uthaug, was announced, I once again was fully on-board, as it pulled inspiration directly from that new version of Croft. Tomb Raider: The Art and Making of the Film by Titan Books gives everyone a peek into the building process of adapting a hit game into a so far well received film.
I raised my hand pretty fast when this book was offered, as I was excited to see the film. I figured the source material was so good, the adaptation was starting off on a much better foot than the older Jolie Tomb movies, and a book that would show some of those creative decisions sounded awesome.
Turns out, this book does a very good job of delivering on that expectation.
The book is huge – a full coffee table book size, with giant pictures of every aspect of the film. With concept art, full-page photographic spreads, and lots of personal anecdotes from the cast and crew, this reads like a very deep dive into both the film creation process and the difficult adaptation process. It’s no secret that video game movies are generally not too well received, and an early chapter dives into the discussion of how to best present a very well-known name and property in a modern and still surprising movie.
The insight into the creative team the book provides with direct quotes and interviews is excellent. Sharon gets a ton on the record, from motivation to the imagined impact of subtle plot changes on the story. Essentially nothing is left out of the discussion, giving readers a lot of the personal reasons for character choices and set or prop design.
The book devotes a large amount of time to the themes of nature, survival, and realism – something that director Roar Uthaug layered together in his film The Wave, and seemingly pulls into most scenes here.
“We weren’t going to do anything fantastical or beyond the realms of the laws of physics,” agrees George Richmond (cinematographer). “What I discussed with Roar was that the film was based in reality, so that it was going to have a real edge to it.”
What we also really liked was the survival aspect of it,” Uthaug adds. “There’s a line in the game trailer that says, ‘I didn’t go looking for adventure, but adventure found me.’
While the background and adaptation pieces are very interesting, I think the breakdown of the various massive stunt sequences is where the book really shines.
If you’ve played the game, quite a few of those big moments make their translation here – shipwreck, the WWII plane in Yamatai, and the Tomb/Sarcophagus sequences are all shown in their various stages. I find it incredible to see the sheer scale of some of these sets, and how massive water tanks and soaked sets are all used to get only a few minutes of film.
Overall, if you’re a fan of Tomb Raider, and want to see how a hit game gets turned into a big budget film, this is an excellent book.