Lara Croft: Tomb Raider 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
With the reboot TOMB RAIDER film in the works, this is as good a time as any to revisit the original, Angelina Jolie starring TOMB RAIDER films. Released 17 years ago, Angelina Jolie and Lara Croft were a match made in heaven. Before her casting was even official, she was the obvious choice because she looks like something a video game designer would dream up. I was never a fan of the film, but after revisiting it so many years later, I found it comical how director Simon West focused so much on Jolie while ignoring every other aspect of the film.
We’re introduced to Lara Croft as she’s training in her mansion against a giant robot. We never learn much about her, other than she’s rich and likes to travel around the world finding/stealing artifacts. Oh, and she has a dead father who before his death hid a mystical key that could be used to unlock two other artifacts that could be used to control the world. That sets the “plot” in motion where Jolie has to battle Manfred (Glen) and Alex (Craig) to get the artifacts before they do. Yes, Jorah from ‘Game of Thrones’ and James Bond himself show up to support Angelina Jolie in her first action film.
I’ve always been irritated by this Tomb Raider film, not because I had any expectations, but because of terrible it ended up being. Aside from Jolie’s casting, everything about this film is a disappointment. The plot itself relies on the “the planets are aligning for the first time in thousands of years” to give it an urgency, which makes little to no sense. If that wasn’t bad enough, they rip off Indiana Jones several times, which comes off more insulting than respectful. Then there’s the CGI, which is terrible, even at 2001 standards. But maybe the most frustrating thing is that we spend the first half of the movie shackled to Lara’s mansion and then we run through the main plot during the second half. Lara Croft is an internationally famous archeologist that travels from country to country finding cool stuff. Why keep her chained to her house?
As Jolie the action hero as evolved, Jolie has gotten pretty comfortable in the action role. She was great in WANTED and looked comfortable wielding guns in SALT. But she didn’t look so comfortable in TOMB RAIDER. There were times I thought she looked like a Victoria’s Secret model that didn’t know what to do with the guns. But a lot of that blame goes to director Simon West, who was clearly pandering to pre-teen fanboys that were obsessed with the game. But giving her a shower scene, an undressing scene and then putting her in a push-up bra for 90 minutes was a bit much.
I remember ranting about this film when it first came out and having it pointed out to me that this was as good as it could be given the source material. I don’t necessarily agree with that because a cool, female archeologist should inspire a better film than this. But I’ve come to realize that video games don’t make good movies, even when the star of the film looks startlingly like their animated counterpart.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The Blu-ray transfer for LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER was so bad that just about anything would be an upgrade. I was taken aback by how bad the Blu-ray is when I sat down to compare it to the 4K. So if you’re mainly interested in whether or not this is an improvement, then the answer is a resounding yes. I’m guessing this was upconverted from a 2K master because we get the normal upticks in detail during closeups and in settings. On its own, the 4K transfer is about on par with other recent catalog titles from Paramount, which is a high compliment since the recent Transformers films looked wonderful. Aside from the uptick in detail, the HDR (boasting Dolby Vision, but looks great on any set) is what’s going to sell this title. Colors are bright and vibrant, especially during scenes in the Croft mansion. This is a nice looking 4K catalog release in its own right, but I can’t stress enough how much of an upgrade this is over the Blu-ray.
Audio: The DTS track is efficient, but given the care Paramount gave the video, it would have been nice to have an updated audio track as well.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no special features exclusive to the 4K, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film.