Fan Film, Fan Films

Tomb Raider: Ascension Fan Film is a Hit!

Except for Ms. Pac-Man, Lara Croft is arguably the best-known female video game character ever. As the “star” of Edios’ Tomb Raider series, sporting a British accent, sleek moves and outfits that pack more than pistols, Croft walks the precariously thin line between post-feminist icon and fanboy drool instigator.

As a result, it might seem easy to make a movie based on her, but both the Tomb Raider feature films were abysmal junk, and most fan efforts to date have haven’t done her justice either. These factors make the brand-new fan production, Tomb Raider: Ascension, all the more surprising—it’s a great flick that simply leaves other incarnations of Croft and Co. in its dust.

Here’s a fan film that feels like a feature—not necessarily in terms of budget (though it’s not chintzy), but rather due to the quality of writing, acting, editing and camerawork. Throughout the movie, time and again, the usual fan film pitfalls are avoided. For instance—and it’s no small thing—the actors interact; they’re not merely reciting lines. For that matter, they’re all different ages,too—something of a rarity in fan movies.

The most striking thing about Ascension, however, is the plot, because it has one. While there’s good action to be found here, it never comes at the expense of story; in fact, the first 30 minutes feature lots of drama, but little in the way of stuff happening. It’s a choice that proves two things: that writer/director Stephen Reynolds knows a thing or two about pacing, and that he trusts his actors’ abilities to hold your attention, even during a long chat in a mansion parlor between Lara (Anna Tyrie) and her trusty butler, Winston (the surprisingly effective Hugh Hemmings).

And the action? When it finally shows up, Reynolds and crew bring it. Fist fights, gun play, chases, explosions, the works.

While the actors seem to be enjoying themselves, it would appear that Tomb Raider fans are enjoying Ascension—more than 11,500 people watched the movie during the first week it was online, having been posted on September 11. At nearly an hour in length, the flick isn’t short, but if you’re looking for something that puts the “film” back in “fan film,” spend some time with Lara Croft and Tomb Raider: Ascension. You won’t be sorry.

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5 Responses to “Tomb Raider: Ascension Fan Film is a Hit!”

  1. just wanted to say thank you for an enjoyable review and glad you liked the movie


  2. Julia

    Thank you for this great review, and apologies for only just coming across it. I have been researching how Trade mark owners react to fan films, as after 2 years of TR community officer support for our endeavor, and in spite of its obvious not for profit status,we are being asked to hand over the URL to our fanfilm site and to take off the film.
    We are going to be taking legal advice and will let you know how it goes.
    Perhaps you have some insights that may prove helpful.
    Keep up the good work commentating on this much misrepresented, but loved genre!

  3. cliveyoung

    Oh man, that’s awful news! Ascension is really one of the top fan films out there, and it beats the two official flicks by a mile (perhaps that’s part of why they’re asking you to take down the flick). Please keep me appraised of what happens and I’ll do my best to publicize your efforts here on FCT. Good luck!

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