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How Tomb Raider 2's Director Built A Movie Set In Minecraft

After a pair of Tomb Raider movies with Angelina Jolie in the lead role, the classic video game series received a much-needed reboot in 2018, this time with Alicia Vikander as the film's heroine. It did well enough at the box office to earn a sequel, which is in development. There are plenty of entries in the game series from which to pull plot points, and it seems like Square Enix, Warner Bros., and MGM are willing to go full steam ahead in keeping this version of Lara Croft alive and well. 

While Vikander will come back as Lara, there will be a bit of a change-up behind the scenes. Roar Uthaug (The Wave, Escape) took the reigns for the first film, but he'll be replaced with Ben Wheatley (RebeccaFree Fire) for the sequel. Wheatley has made a career for himself with high-concept movies whether it's the action/black comedy hybrid Free Fire or the Hitchcock remake that messes with your mind, Rebecca

As it turns out, a video game movie works pretty well for Wheatley's wheelhouse. He's a fan of video games himself, and in a recent interview with Polygon, he spoke about how he's currently playing Counter-Strike and Factorio. He's also brought the world of video games into his filmmaking, and later in the interview, he talks about how he designed one of his previous film within the world of Minecraft.

Ben Wheatley used Minecraft for pre-production work on Free Fire

Tomb Raider 2 may be Wheatley's first official video game movie, but that's not the way the auteur filmmaker sees it. In his interview with Polygon, he spoke about how video games have a unique language, in terms of the 3D architecture and camerawork. He even considers his film Free Fire, starring Armie Hammer and Brie Larson, to be a video game movie, and it's for that reason he actually did pre-production for the film within the world of Minecraft

Wheatley offers high praise for the block-building video game behemoth, calling it "the most user friendly 3D, CAD design" tool you can use for a film's pre-production. After all, you can build the sets of a film within the video game without having to spend a lot of money. The heads of various departments can then create accounts and tour the sets, allowing them to make changes and visualize how the film will look before actually building something in real life. As Wheatley puts it, "When we [built the set for Free Fire in Minecraft], we actually got cardboard boxes, which were the same dimensions as the cubes from Minecraft, and then rebuilt the thing we built inside the warehouse. So that really helped."

Wheatley has proven himself to be an adept director. Looking at his background and filmmaking process, it's safe to say Tomb Raider 2 will be a different kind of film from the first that remains truthful to the popular video games. You can currently watch Wheatley's latest film, Rebecca, which has just been released on Netflix.