Tomb Raider 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed, Max Payne…the list goes on when it comes to fun to play video games with engaging game-play that doesn’t necessarily translate well to the big screen. Angelina Jolie taught us this lesson with LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER in 2001 and then again with the sequel in 2003, but that didn’t stop Hollywood from trying once again, this time with Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander. To the film’s credit, it’s head and shoulders above the Jolie movies, but as it turns out, that’s not saying much at all.
TOMB RAIDER sort of feels like a prequel to Jolie’s movies. Jolie’s Lara was a seasoned explorer, booming with confidence and charisma while Vikander’s Lara is going on her first adventure, unsure of herself and lacking experience. Content to live life as a courier in London, Lara is thrust into a world of adventure when she uncovers her father’s study. It turns out her father disappeared seven years prior, desperately trying to seek out the tomb of an ancient Japanese queen. Lara picks up some clues that lead her to a remote Japanese island where she meets Vogel (Goggins), a mercenary who has been trapped on the island while looking for the tomb.
Director Roar Uthaug should have gone back and watched the first two Tomb Raider films because I think he would have learned some lessons. The first film took way too long to get to the adventure, instead burying itself in an unnecessary plot that saw Lara do a bunch of low risk stunts but not actually leave her mansion. The same type of thing happens here where Lara engages in a boxing match and then competes in a citywide bicycle race, but never faces any real danger. Presumably, this is done to establish her risk taking nature and thrill seeking attitude, but it left audiences wondering when she was going to…ahem…raid a tomb. We finally get there and when we do, the film turns into a sort of survival story where the most exciting moments come as Lara is jumping off a ledge or trying to balance an abandoned airplane over a waterfall.
As for Vikander, she’s a talented enough actress to pull off just about anything, but the one thing she lacked in TOMB RAIDER was the sense that she was having fun. One of the things that makes these kind of movies more enjoyable is that the audience feels like they’re on an adventure with the lead character. But here, she seems miserable, as if someone is forcing her into her situations. Part of that is the story, but another part of that is Vikander’s take on the role and, possibly, the fact that she might not actually having fun with the role. Walton Goggins is one of the most underrated actors working today, but here he and all of the supporting characters are just props for Lara. It was frustrating because they started to establish Vogel as something more than a one note villain, but eventually abandoned that notion in favor of more action. It would have been nice for them to spend more time on the villain and the secret society and less time on Lara in London.
I don’t know if it’s possible to make a good Tomb Raider movie. I believe it’s possible to make a great movie around a female explorer, so in theory it should be possible to make a good Tomb Raider movie, but I think the pressure to make the movie feel like a video game is too much for most directors. I think the secret code to making a good movie based on a video game is to make a good movie and don’t worry what it’s based on. It will happen some day, but TOMB RAIDER wasn’t able to do it.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: I’ve watched a lot of great 4K transfers lately, and TOMB RAIDER is up there with some of the best. The detail might lack in places, but the color depth on display when Lara gets to the island is very impressive, especially as the sun shines through the trees and onto various character’s bodies. You can see a level of detail and colors that looks great. On the downside, there are scenes that lack some detail, such as the interior boat scenes or some of the scenes in the jungle. But overall, this is a nice transfer.
Audio: The Dolby Atmos track is a nice addition to the great video presentation, creating a nice atmosphere of sound. You can feel the thunderstorm carry Lara away as well as the rolling spikes that she narrowly avoids.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no 4K exclusive special features, but it does come with a Blu-ray, which has the following special features:
Featurettes: There are four featurettes included, each of which are under ten minutes long. They’re very much fluff pieces, so you won’t get any details into the making of the film.