Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

February 19, 2018 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

It’s an amazing thing when you can remember when you first (and last) watched a movie. I’m thinking that this was late in 2001 and I’d just received the eagerly-anticipated DVD of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider from Paramount. I hadn’t seen it in the theaters, a habit I’ve become more accustomed to since starting this site back in 1999. Still, I like many fanboys wasn’t opposed to the idea of watching Angelina Jolie slink around in a form-fitting outfit, leaving little to the imagination. And so it was that Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was born. At the time (2001), there weren’t a lot of films based on video games. That’s changed now, of course, but it might be said that this paved the way for more to come. And while we didn’t realize it at the time, one of the stars of the film was a then relatively unknown British actor by the name of Daniel Craig. The rest, as they say, is history.

As Lara Croft sits in her majestic palace battling robots that are trying to kill her (for fun, no less), the time is upon the world when the planets will align. Lara had lost her father some fifteen years earlier. Lord Croft (Jon Voight) was doing research and the “bad guys”, known as the Illuminati aim to take over the Earth by conducting a ritual at the exact moment of a once-every-5,000-years planetary alignment. To accomplish this they must locate the two halves of an ancient triangular metal plate and join them together at just the right moment. Lara’s job, of course, is to prevent this all from happening by destroying both halves of the triangle — but logic might say that if she only destroyed one half of the triangle, it would have the same effect and have the added benefit of getting us out through the movie in half the time. Heading this effort is Powell (Iain Glen) and his assistant Alex West (Daniel Craig), an archaeologist-for-hire who apparently once had an affair with Lara and wants desperately to resume it. Is this really going to happen? Are the evil Illuminati going to take over the Earth? Or will one lone archeologist, with two pistols strapped to her naked thighs, have the gumption to foil their plan?

There’s only so much substance you can get from a film based upon a video game. And after watching the film again (the first time since 2001, I might add) it wasn’t exactly bad. It was entertaining, which is what it was supposed to be. Jolie, at the time, was at the top of her game. She’d just come of an Oscar win for Girl, Interrupted had yet to steal Brad Pitt away from Jennifer Aniston and was looking good (she still does, by the way). If you’re wondering why this movie and its 2003 sequel got the 4K upgrade, well they’re rebooting this franchise with Alicia Vikander in the role. Nothing more or less. This movie is all Jolie, despite some supporting performances from real-life Dad Jon Voight and Daniel Craig. Still, it’s not a bad way to pass a couple of hours.

Video: How does it look?

This new 4K version represents a two notch upgrade over the DVD that I’d watched so many years ago. It’s been so long since I’d seen it, that I had no idea what to expect. And I was pleasantly surprised with how good this film looks. It’s been given a new 4K restoration, colors are much brighter and more vivid. The 2.40:1 HEVC 4K image beams of energy and clarity which is something that just wasn’t present on the DVD. For the record the Blu-ray is included in this set, not the DVD. The film is full of action, special effects and all of this looks a bit better on this higher-quality format.

Audio: How does it sound?

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is an action, bust-em-up kind of movie and as such we know that we’ll be getting plenty of awesome sound, right? Correct. We’re treated to a new DTS HD Master Audio track here and it’s a bit disappointing that there’s not a Dolby Atmos mix included. Still, whether it’s the crispness of Jolie’s English accent or the debris flying through the surround speakers, the soundtrack delivers on all levels. Now I will say that the previous Dolby Digital 5.1 track was by no means bad, but like the video this has been given new life with this new track.

Supplements: What are the extras?

As expected, this Ultra HD/4K version ports over all of the extras from the previously-released DVD. There is nothing new included.

  • Audio Commentary – Director Simon West, contrary to what you might think, is not two hours of him saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”, but he is rather proud of his work and I’m sure that Paramount is proud of him for giving them a hit movie. Being the solo commentator, there are some lulls in his talking, but on the whole it’s a good track.
  • Digging Into Tomb Raider – A pretty standard EPK that has some interviews with the cast and crew, chatting about the film.
  • Crafting Lara Croft – This shows how Angelina Jolie got in shape, literally, for the role of Lara Croft. As Croft, she incorporates several styles of fighting and her commitment to the role is admirable, in the sense that she took classes for three months prior to when filming began.
  • The Visual Effects of Tomb RaiderEight different sequences show how we see the various types of digital effects made (or were supposed to make) the movie come to life.
  • Tomb Raider Stunts – Naturally, an Academy Award-Winning actress won’t do all the stunts and CGI can only take care of so much. While not the most interesting of featurettes, it delivers the goods and sheds a bit of light on all the stunt work that happens throughout the movie.
  • Are You Game? – This takes a look at the Tomb Raider video game, the one that started it all.
  • Deleted Scenes – Several are included. They’re still deleted.
  • U2 Music Video: “Elevation” (Tomb Raider Mix)  
  • Alternate Main Title – Basically what it says, a different take on the title credits. 
  • Theatrical Trailer and teaser trailer

The Bottom Line

The film hasn’t aged too terribly well and perhaps that’s why they’re rebooting it. That or they feel they can cash in on yet another franchise without having to go through the trouble of creating a new franchise. Regardless, the Tomb Raider movies do have an audience and if you’ve been clamoring for these in 4K –  your wait is over. Improvements in audio and video don’t hurt, though it’d would have been nice to see at least one new feature on the disc. Nope.

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