Release Date(s)2018 (June 12, 2018)
Studio(s)Warner Bros Pictures/MGM/GK Films/Square Enix (Warner Bros.)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: D-
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is a young woman searching for her place in life. Her industrialist/explorer father disappeared seven years earlier while on an expedition, and she’s refused to take her place running his empire because she doesn’t want to have to sign the papers declaring him dead. But when Lara discovers a cule to his whereabouts, she stops at nothing to trace his path around the world in an effort to find him. What she ultimately discovers is more than she bargained for... a mysterious group that’s after an ancient, supernatural power her father believed to be capable of destroying the world.
The interesting thing here is, Vikander is actually a terrific Lara Croft. She’s vulnerable, credible, and believable, and the entire first half of the film, which establishes her character and background, is pretty wonderful. Sadly, once the story gets to the actual tomb raiding bit – the running, jumping, fighting, and spelunking stuff of male gamer fantasies for which this character is known – everything becomes far more paint-by-numbers. The action is rote, the archeology is a bit slapdash, and the twists are far too predicable. Still, Vikander delivers the goods, and the supporting cast mostly does too (though some of them aren’t fully utilized in this story). They include Dominic West, Kristin Scott Thomas, Walton Goggins, Derek Jacobi, and Daniel Wu. Look also for a small role featuring Nick Frost.
Tomb Raider was shot digitally in the ARRIRAW codec (at 3.4K) using ARRI Alexa cameras and anamorphic lenses. It was finished as a native 4K Digital Intermediate, given high dynamic range grades in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and is presented on Ultra HD at the 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio. The image quality is generally very good, with solid detail and nice texturing, though fine detail is a little lacking sometimes and noisy at others. The HDR grade isn’t over the top, but the image still has nice pop. Shadows are deep, colors are bold and nuanced. The image has a nicely cinematic quality, helped by its anamorphic capture. Once Lara gets to the island, however, some of the visual effects don’t stand up quite as well as they should. Yes, this property is based on a video game, but it would be nice if the set pieces were a tad more grounded in realism than first person shooters. Still, it’s a generally pleasing image.
Primary audio on the 4K disc is available in English Dolby Atmos (7.1 TrueHD compatible). The mix has a medium-wide front stage, with excellent clarity, and a full, rich sound. Bass is muscular, and the surround channels are active with directional cues and atmospherics. There’s significant play in the height channels during said set pieces, especially the shipwreck and a sequence where Lara goes over a waterfall in a crashed plane… sort of. You just kind of have to see it (and hear it). A sonic highlight is, of all things, a “fox hunt” bicycle chase early in the film. The score is by Junkie XL and some of these tracks are quite good (and they sound great too). Additional audio options include English and Italian 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Descriptive Audio, and French, Chinese, Latin Spanish, and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles are available in English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Italian (for the hearing impaired), Chinese, Latin Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, and Portuguese.
The 4K disc itself includes no extras, but the package offers the film in 1080p HD on Blu-ray too. That disc adds the following special features, all in HD:
- Tomb Raider: Uncovered (7:06)
- Croft Training (6:06)
- Breaking Down the Rapids (5:34)
- Lara Croft: Evolution of an Icon (9:53)
It’s all glossy and EPK-ish, paying far too much service to the original video games. There’s nothing special to see here. Note that you also get a Digital Copy code on a paper insert.
Tomb Raider starts on strong footing, but too quickly follows where a dozen other films have gone before. Here’s the thing though: The first half of this film makes it abundantly clear that, in the hands of the right filmmakers, Vikander is more than capable of elevating this character way beyond its origins (and all the usual tropes) to make Tomb Raider something special. Or... this can be yet another series of generic video game movies, a low-rent Indiana Jones meets James Bond but with a female star. Bottom line: GK Films really needs to leave this franchise’s source material in the rear-view mirror, so that when moviegoers think of Lara Croft, they think of Vikander rather than a 1990s videogame sexpot with big guns and bigger boobs. Here’s hoping they make the right choices. If you’re interested in this first installment, Warner’s 4K Ultra HD is solid and shouldn’t disappoint (save for the extras).
- Bill Hunt