March 13 (Reuters) - When video game character Lara Croft first debuted in "Tomb Raider" on the big screen nearly two decades ago, she was a daring, action-superwoman embodying a role reserved for men.
Now, with the same feminist spirit, the reboot starring Alicia Vikander and opening worldwide this week, spins the usual action-adventure tale, but also dives into Croft's beginnings, portraying a heroine with an emotional life and personal growth.
"We show this journey of Lara when she's not the action hero ... and it's a way of us still to root for her," the 29-year-old Swede in her biggest role to date told Reuters Television. "You actually get to feel that's she's human, and she's open to be vulnerable."
The franchise's revival is based primarily on a 2013 iteration of the game, which takes place on the fictional lost island of Yamatai near Japan.
In the film, Croft leads a profligate youth following her father's disappearance, but then is pulled back into the fold when she is inspired to scrutinize his vanishing while on one of his treacherous archaeological adventures.
"Tomb Raider," which first made it to the big screen in 2001 with Angelina Jolie as Croft, is a bit of a throwback with an elaborately constructed studio set in an era when most action films depend heavily on computer effects.
"I was really looking to get an authentic and gritty feel to the whole movie, so we shot a lot of it for real," Norwegian director Roar Uthaug said.
"I think it brings some edge to it, some rawness," the 44-year-old added.
"Tomb Raider" arrives at a time when Hollywood is putting more women in central roles in the macho blockbuster genre.
It is also a bet Warner Bros. has placed on Vikander to be Hollywood's next breakout female action star following the roaring success of little-known Israeli actress Gal Gadot in last year's "Wonder Woman."
Vikander, who won a best supporting actress Oscar in 2016 for "The Danish Girl," had yet to take on top billing in a blockbuster and is best known for her intense, emotionally dramatic performances.
"I too had to overcome, like Lara, a lot of questioning," Vikander said. "But it's an adventure, and I was really intrigued to go on it." (Reporting by Reuters Television in Los Angeles and London; Writing by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Sandra Maler)