Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

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Released 2-Jun-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Audio Commentary-by Director Jan De Bont
Deleted Scenes-6 scenes with optional commentary by Director Jan De Bont
Alternate Ending-1 scene with optional commentary by Director Jan De Bont
Featurette-Training
Featurette-Vehicles and Weapons
Featurette-Stunts
Featurette-Visual Effects
Featurette-Scoring
Featurette-Gerard Butler's Screen Test
DVD-ROM Extras-Original Theatrical Web Site Archive
Music Video-Korn "Did My Time"
Music Video-The Davey Brothers "Heart Go Faster"
Main Menu Animation
Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 112:32
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (46:51) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jan De Bont
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Angelina Jolie
Gerard Butler
Ciarán Hinds
Chris Barrie
Noah Taylor
Djimon Hounsou
Til Schweiger
Simon Yam
Terence Yin
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $35.95 Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Croatian
Greek
Hebrew
Hungarian
Portuguese
Serbian
Slovenian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The sequel to the first Tomb Raider film — what should we expect? More and bigger stunts? Definitely. Exotic locations? Absolutely! The story getting a bit lost in amongst the stunts? Unfortunately, yes.

    We begin, after an unusual set of opening titles, with a Greek wedding that gets interrupted by an earthquake. This earthquake has unearthed a mystery that has been lost for millennia, the Luna Temple. Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) is first to locate it, and makes an unexpected discovery, a glowing glass orb, before her discovery is stolen by some rather unfriendly types. This makes her rather cross. Then MI-6 show up at Croft Manor to ask her to recover the orb and the secret it is connected to. This makes her even more cross, because she doesn't like MI-6. Nonetheless, she takes the job, because she's really cross with the people who stole the orb that she had planned to, umm, shall we say, remove from Greek territorial waters without notifying the Greek authorities...

    Once again Lara Croft is off on an adventure, trying to save the world from an ancient terror that could cause the death of millions if it gets into the unscrupulous hands of (insert bad guy here). Actually, this bad guy is more credible than most. It's Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds), an international dealer in biological weapons — ruthless and most definitely unscrupulous. He reminds me of old-school Bond villains, mostly Blofeld, especially in the way that he wipes out one of his potential buyers as an example for the others.

    Add in the obligatory "bad boy" love interest, in the shape of Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), and we're off and running. Well, not so much running, as riding just about every form of transport available. You'd be hard-pressed to find a film that has used a greater variety of transport.

    The one feature I miss from the first film is a certain sense of grace. The bungee ballet sequence in the first film was graceful, athletic, and quite pretty. There's nothing like that in this film. This time we get the feeling that Lara Croft is nothing more than James Bond with a different physique. And that's a loss.

    I must issue a small protest about one minor point. The whole idea of the side-saddle (a ridiculously unbalanced contraption) is so that a woman can ride while wearing a skirt. It's asinine to have her using a side-saddle while wearing breeches. It's just plain wrong! (Sorry, I had to say that.)

    For all that I think this film has lost some ground compared to the first one, it's still a rollicking adventure, and Angelina Jolie's Lara Croft is no pain to look at, yet convincing as an action heroine. There are far worse action adventures we could be watching.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This movie was shot in Panavision. That means a theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and that's the aspect ratio we get here, complete with 16x9 enhancement. Good stuff.

    The image is mostly quite sharp, yet free from edge enhancement. Shadow detail varies, but is generally more than adequate. Film grain is no problem (one of the reasons that Jan de Bont gives for using Panavision over Super35 is his dislike of the film grain issues common with the latter). Low level noise is never visible.

    There is a lengthy sequence, near the end, which is apparently intended to look like night-time (it was shot day-for-night, because the location was not available at night). Unlike conventional day-for-night, which is shot through a blue filter in an attempt to capture the different character of light at night, this was digitally graded to look like night, or so they intended. It doesn't look like that on the DVD — it just looks kind of odd, like they are in shadow, or the brightness was turned down, or the film was shot through a neutral-density filter, but it really doesn't look like night (maybe it's because things in the distance are too clear?). Even so, I'm not going to penalise the DVD transfer, because the DVD looks just like the picture did when I saw it the first time.

    Apart from that sequence, colour is rendered well, and there's plenty of it, but no other colour-related artefacts.

    There are no visible film artefacts, as you'd hope in a film so recent. There's not much in the way of aliasing, and almost no moiré (you'll see one of the rare examples on the trellis work at 19:55) — very nice. There are no obvious MPEG errors, either.

    There are subtitles in English and seven other languages (an intriguing choice they are, too). I watched the English, and they may be less abbreviated than usual; they are easy to read, and well-timed to the dialogue.

    The disc is single-sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change comes at 46:51, and it's carefully placed at a cut — not too obvious, even on a fairly slow DVD player.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in English and Hungarian. The soundtracks are Dolby Digital 5.1, at 448kbps. There's also an audio commentary in English (Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded, 192kbps). The English soundtrack has been recorded a little bit too quietly — I had to boost the volume by 3dB to bring it to a normal level. I listened to the English soundtrack and the commentary.

    The dialogue is clear and readily understandable, although occasionally a touch muffled. There are no obvious audio sync problems.

    The music is credited to Alan Silvestri, although Jan de Bont's commentary points out that one scene was scored by Craig Armstrong (although he doesn't get a credit). Silvestri has done a good job of building the score to match the action.

    The surrounds are used rather well; there's some nice directional sound, and a fair bit of ambience. The subwoofer gets plenty to do, what with earthquakes and explosions, and assorted ominous rumblings.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are lots of extras — just like the previous Tomb Raider disc.

Menu

    The menu is animated with music, with a flashy intro. Even with all the razzmatazz, the menu is still easy to operate.

Audio Commentary: director Jan de Bont

    This is a full-length commentary with few pauses that starts before the opening credits and continues into the closing ones. Jan de Bont has plenty to say, and he's a decent speaker, although he could do with a lesson in mike technique. He talks of the ideas he wanted to incorporate in the film, the chance events that played a part in the filmmaking process, the trials and tribulations of shooting on location, and many other topics. He even comments on the fact that he deliberately shot the love scene early in the filming process, because he wanted to get it while the leads still liked each other (he hinted that this was a lesson learned from earlier experiences, which was suggestive...). This commentary is well worth listening to.

    This commentary track, unlike the soundtrack, is recorded at a normal level.

Deleted / Extended Scenes (11:43)

    There are seven scenes in this collection, and you can play them individually or altogether. You can play them with or without the director's commentary, and that's a tad confusing. You see, you pick a scene, press Enter, and the cursor jumps to the commentary / no commentary choice. You must hit Enter again before the scene plays — not the most obvious user interface you'll ever see. The scenes are:

Featurettes

Gerard Butler's Screen Test (3:59)

    A variation on the meeting between Terry and Lara.

Music Videos

DVD-ROM Content

    The DVD-ROM portion of this disc contains an archive of the web site for the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 disc was released in November 2003. As far as I can ascertain, the Region 1 and the Region 4 are almost identical. Same artwork, same extras. They get two trailers that we don't. They get a French soundtrack, we get Hungarian, and we get more subtitles. That's it. Apparently their transfer is as good as ours.

    Sounds like this one is a tie.

Summary

    An action / adventure movie that's lots of fun, given a very good presentation on DVD.

    The video quality is really good, even with the slightly strange appearance to one long "night" sequence.

    The audio quality is very good.

    There are plenty of extras, and they are interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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