When you ask any gamer to name the first female protagonist who comes to their mind, chances are most will say Lara Croft. She’s iconic, having spurred a stack of games and not one, but two movie franchises.
And while the most recent iteration of Croft’s badassery kicked off her origin story for a new generation, the original movies still hold a place in our hearts. It’s been eighteen years since the first Tomb Raider flick hit our screens in 2001, so why do we still re-watch?
Ready your treasure maps and braid your hair, because the original Tomb Raider series is still worth a watch.
Here are a couple of key reasons:
Angelina is a queen
Before Alicia Vikander slid her Swedish soles into Lara’s combat boots, they were made incredibly difficult to fill by the original treasure-hunting legend, Angelina Jolie.
Angelina’s Lara was a whole different kettle of fish — not only was she confident and sassy, but she was also incredibly capable. Her Lara was no stranger to a shootout or two, and she knew exactly what she could handle. The films weren’t humble beginnings that made her realise her worth. She knew it already, and how to defend it.
Sure, most people remember her for being the ‘sexy’ Lara Croft but — while I take great issue in that being her defining characteristic — having that back in 2001 was kind of a big deal. Not only was Angelina’s Lara aware of her own sex appeal, but she was able to use it creatively. Don’t forget, the character in general was loosely inspired by James Bond, and if it’s good enough for the gander, it’s sure as hell good enough for the goose.
Fun fact? It even starred a future Bond, Daniel Craig.
It was a herald for video game movies to come
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that video game movies have been particularly high calibre over the years.
But the original Tomb Raider series is important to highlight because it was one of the first big-name video game franchise movies. It paved the way for more directors and studios to take a chance on video games as inspiration, it served as an example that people will actually go to see this type of film — and for many years it was the highest grossing video game movie (a title which now goes to Detective Pikachu).
Nowadays we see far more video game adaptions and sure, they’re not all great, but they’re coming and the industry has narrowed into that market. Would that have happened without Tomb Raider and Angelina? Maybe. But they sure as hell made it easier.
It had absolutely ridiculous action sequences
Sure, action movies with questionable combat sequences are ripe for the picking nowadays, but the original series was so incredibly extra that it’s a worthy enough inclusion on this list.
Truly, where else would you find an entire battle sequence where the protagonist is bougie enough to be pre-preemptively hooked up to an acrobatic ropes course in their very own mansion? Very convenient when the bad guys rope themselves in. It’s a piece of cinematic gold.
Not only is it fun choreography, but those bad guys definitely give off a Stormtrooper vibe with how many bullets Lara somehow dodges while wearing exactly NO ARMOUR AT ALL. Don’t remember it? Check out the scene above and count how many times Angelina’s long braid would’ve whipped her right in the face. Spoiler: it’s a lot.
For real though, sometimes it’s nice to look back on the classics — and ‘classics’ are different for everyone. You can keep your critically-acclaimed black and white thrillers, and feel free to hold onto your Oscar-winning dramas. I’m here for Angelina-era Tomb Raider.