Fellow blogger and Tomb Raider specialist, Kelly M, drew my attention to this Lara Croft fan film made recently. Because Tomb Raider is one of my favourite franchises, I decided to give it a quick look to see what it was like. I have seen a few fan films and a few have impressed me. This one, however, is worth the fifteen minute watch. It is really well made.
It opens with a group of bad guys (little plot is given, just the fact that something sinister is going down). They have two hostages and are interrogating them to find out where their friend, the one who got away, went. The shot jumps between this interrogation and flashes of a formidable and familiar looking brunette in a blue top and armed with a bow and arrow. Needless to say, what follows is total carnage as this badass female decides she will stop at nothing to save her friends. There isn’t much cause for much of a story, as this little snippet is all we need for an actual fan film. It celebrates Lara Croft and tries to entertain the audience for a few minutes, which it certainly does. It could easily be the closing chapter in a full-grown Tomb Raider film.
The first thing that strikes the audience is how much money must have gone into this thing. Despite fan films mainly being a group of fans making a movie out of what little they have, it seems ironic that the ones that stick around are the ones with giant production values. Sadly that kills the whole point of a fan film, but at the same time, these film-makers command your respect, because of the dedication it must have taken to assemble this whole thing. The production of this thing is really good, being able to afford endless amounts of actors to get killed in grizzly ways by Lara. Of course, they are all masked, suggesting that it could be five different guys with many costumes, but you see enough fresh faces to make the point stand. There is even a helicopter near the end, something that I wouldn’t be able to dream of organising for a film shoot. This is the kind of scenario I would kill to be a part of. A sizeable budget, a gorgeous wooded location for a backdrop and a large film crew, passionate about bringing a Lara Croft movie to life.
But oh my god, how great is that action? The pace works really well, as the director, Trevor Addy, shows off his talents in several ways. It starts with a slow reveal of Lara, as we see her picking off several people from afar. To get the best out of the action, he uses several camera tricks to manipulate us into thinking we are seeing these guards getting brutally slaughtered. Locations must have been thoroughly thought out to get the shots that we end up being treated too. When those tricks are beginning to get boring, the violence goes up a notch. We see our hero taking on several people at the same time, with carefully choreographed fight scenes. Actress Cassandra Ebner moves with lightning, landing blow after blow on her enemies with frightening speed. The camera works hard to keep up with her and it must have taken a long time to get each kill just right. As it stands, there isn’t a single mistake and we rarely get to see action this good in a fan film. A round of applause to everyone.
I have a gripe though. I don’t think the villain was done too well. I don’t know if I entirely blame the actor, Liam Carter, for this, but his bad guy was a little empty. His dialogue was essentially ‘say bad guy things’ and I felt he needed a bit more character injected into him. It was a shame, because, as most of the other characters are silent throughout the film, most of the dialogue comes from an evil monologue. If we really feared the villain or enjoyed spending this much screen time with him, it might have been thrilling, but as it stands, it feels a little empty. Something to pass the time. Much better and more intimidating was the silent henchman, Nickolas Baric. He didn’t say a word, but he was clearly the one to watch out for, the moment he stepped on screen. He doesn’t disappoint either and his fight with Lara is the highlight of the entire film. When it ends, we stop fearing for Lara’s life, as she has easily conquered the worst to come.
There’s even a late plot twist. I shall be honest. I didn’t like it. I felt it wasn’t needed and there were far better ways to end it. I would have been happier with a fade to black, leaving us in suspense. Even having a plot twist reeks of uncertainty, as though the crew weren’t entirely sure the audiences would be hooked by the breath-taking action. However, I might have been in the minority with this opinion, judging by the Youtube comments, so I won’t hold it against the fan film. Well done, Trevor Addy, and well done everyone on this fan film. I enjoyed this far more than I expected too. If anyone has any more fan films, you think I would enjoy, throw them in the comments below.