Lara Croft: Tomb Raider appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. While the image didn’t dazzle, it worked pretty well.
Overall sharpness seemed good. A few interiors could seem a but soft, but the film usually offered nice clarity and delineation.
I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes also remained absent. Print flaws failed to mar the proceedings.
Raider went with a fairly restrained amber-influenced palette, so the disc had few opportunities to shine in that regard. Even with the benefit of 4K’s HDR, the colors seemed good but not impressive. That said, they did what they were intended to do, so they replicated the source appropriately.
Blacks were reasonably deep, and shadows showed acceptable clarity, but neither excelled. I thought a bit of “crush” impacted blacks, and shadows could be slightly murky. Ultimately, Raider didn’t provide a visual presentation I’d use to show off my TV, but it looked fairly good.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield offered a consistently lively and engaging experience. From the forward speakers, I heard solid stereo separation for the music, and effects presented a vibrant and active presence. Different elements were neatly localized, and they moved across channels and blended together neatly and cleanly.
The surrounds also contributed a terrific amount of information as they created an encompassing environment. The rear speakers featured solid reinforcement of music throughout the film, and it included a wide variety of effects as well.
Virtually every action sequence came across with a fine level of excitement and activity from all around the spectrum. Gunfire, vehicles, and various baddies all popped up from the different speakers, and these allowed the mix to really kick to life nicely.
Audio quality also appeared solid. Although much of the speech needed to be looped, dialogue always came across as natural and distinct, and I heard no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Music seemed robust and vivid, as the songs and the score demonstrated good fidelity and range.
Effects were the stars of the show, however, as they presented excellent clarity and accuracy and also packed a good punch. Bass response seemed deep and rich, and highs were crisp and bright. Ultimately, the soundtrack of Tomb Raider offered a consistently involving and vibrant piece.
How did this 4K UHD compare to the film’s Blu-ray? We’ve gotten two BD versions of the film: the original 2006 release and a 2018 update.
For the 4K and the 2018 BD, we got the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio. The 2006 BD only included lossy sound, so the 4K offered an upgrade over it.
As for visuals, the 2006 BD was an ugly, mushy affair – and the 2018 Blu-ray gave us only a moderate upgrade. I suspect both used the same transfer but the 2018 disc looked better due to improved compression techniques.
The 4K clearly used a unique transfer, and it definitely worked better than either Blu-ray. It boasted substantially superior accuracy and delineation, and it lost compression issues, print flaws and other problems. Without question, the 4K became the best way to view the film.
Only one extra appears on the 4K disc: an audio commentary from director Simon West, who offers a running, screen-specific piece. Overall, this track provides some good moments but it tends to be average.
West mostly focuses on the technical aspects of making the movie, and he neatly covers many of those elements. He talks about a lot of the sets and the various effects, and a few decent anecdotes pop up along the way.
Although West goes over some of the cuts he made to the film, he doesn’t tell us much about the creative side of the equation. I’d love to know what challenges this sort of film offers, such as dealing with the pressures of a prospective franchise, and also coping with the limitations forced by adapting a videogame to the big screen. Unfortunately, he doesn’t talk about those areas.
The track also suffers from a few sizable empty spaces, though these aren’t too frequent. This becomes a reasonably decent commentary, though it’ll probably be of interest mainly to the movie’s biggest fans.
We get a Blu-ray copy of Raider, and it contains the remaining extras. Crafting Lara Croft is a six-minute, 49-second featurette about Angelina Jolie’s physical training for the film. It includes interviews with Jolie, director Simon West, producers Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin, stunt coordinator Simon Crane, producer Lloyd Levin, and actor Jon Voight.
While the glimpses of her preparation were interesting, overall this felt like a piece that did little more than tell us what a badass Jolie is. It’s moderately interesting but insubstantial.
Four Deleted Scenes run a total of seven minutes, 18 seconds. They seemed fairly insignificant, though I did like “You Might Try to Kill Me”, if just because this extended sequence added some helpful exposition that made parts of the story clearer.
The Stunts of Tomb Raider gives us a nine-minute, 28-second look at that aspect of the production. It provides thoughts from director West, Jolie, stunt coordinator Crane, visual effects supervisor Corbould, and producers Gordon and Levin.
Once again we hear more about how amazing Jolie is and how she did much of the work on her own. Some of the material from the set was good, but I started to tire of the “Angelina rules!” parade.
The longest program on the disc, Digging Into Tomb Raider gives us an overall look at the film. The 25-minute, 27-second documentary provides remarks from actors Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Noah Taylor, Iain Glen, Chris Barrie, Daniel Craig, Julian Rhind-Tutt, operations director at CORE Design Adrian Smith, head of global development for Eidos Interactive Jeremy Heath-Smith, producers Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin, director Simon West, costume designer Lindy Hemming, stunt coordinator Simon Crane, Nick Rey of Lonely Planet publications, location manager Chris Brock, production designer Kirk Petruccelli, and special effects supervisor Chris Corbould.
As a whole, this program offers a moderately interesting look at a variety of elements, but I find it suffered from the “how great” syndrome. We hear how great Jolie was, how great the sets and costumes were, how great the props and stunts were, and so on.
A reasonable amount of useful information crops up along the way, and it always remained acceptably breezy and entertaining. Still, I feel like these notes occasionally became buried underneath the superlatives.
The Visual Effects of Tomb Raider looks at eight different aspects of the film, and these clips provide a total of 20 minutes, 19 seconds of footage. We hear from visual effects supervisor Steven Begg, Sue Rowe, Jon Neil, Steve Street and Simon Haslett of Cinesite, special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, David Philips, Richard Roberts, Steve Murgatroid, Karl Mooney and Laurent Huguenlot of Mill Film.
These segments were actually pretty good. They offer reasonably solid examinations of the various effects challenges, and the participants went through them with good clarity. Most compelling of the bunch is “Time Storm - Powell”, because it discusses a deleted scene.
Are You Game? takes a short look at the Tomb Raider videogame phenomenon. With a mix of game shots and interviews with Jolie, operations director at CORE Design Adrian Smith, head of global development for Eidos Interactive Jeremy Heath-Smith, and Eidos CEO Mike McGarvey, this eight-minute piece tells us a little about the project’s origins and its future (as of 2001, that is).
The brief snippets about the early days are the most interesting, especially through the glimpses of the original male protagonist for the game. It’s still a superficial and hyperbolic piece, but it seems breezy and entertaining enough.
Next comes a fun music video for “Elevation” by U2. It uses the standard mix of shots from the film and clips of the band as they lip-synch, but it takes technological advancements and plops the members of U2 into some of the flick’s situations.
In addition, we get the fine “Tomb Raider” mix of “Elevation”, a version superior to the one on the album. Unfortunately, the disc doesn’t toss in some behind-the-scenes footage found on a Region 2 “Elevation” DVD single, but I was still happy to see the video itself.
The Alternate Main Title sequence lasts for two minutes, six seconds. Essentially this would have added a little at the start of the film, and it would have given the opening more of a videogame feel. I don’t know why they didn’t use it, but here it is! From there the disc finishes with teaser and theatrical trailers.
As of February 2018, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider remains the most successful movie based on a videogame ever made – in the US, at least - but it doesn’t take much for that crown, and Raider only fitfully entertains. The flick has some good segments, and Angelina Jolie neatly embodies the cartoony lead, but the film seems poorly paced and jumpy. The 4K UHD delivers generally good picture and supplements as well as excellent audio. Fans will flock to this 4K as the best home video version of the film to date.
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