Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

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Released 10-Apr-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Booklet
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Crafting Lara Croft
Audio Commentary-Simon West (Director)
DVD-ROM Extras
Deleted Scenes-(4)
Featurette-Stunts
Featurette-Digging Into Tomb Raider
Music Video-Elevation-U2
Featurette-Are You Game?
Featurette-Alternate Main Title
Featurette-Visual Effects (8)
Easter Egg-Interview with Angelina Jolie & Jon Voight
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 96:24
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Simon West
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Angelina Jolie
Jon Voight
Iain Glen
Noah Taylor
Daniel Craig
Christopher Barrie
Richard Johnson
Julian Rhind-Tutt
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Graeme Revell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English 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 Danish
Dutch
English
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes, only bad guys smoke!
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Tomb Raider is a computer game, available on PlayStation and PC (at least). It's a popular combination of action shooting game and puzzle, although the later editions require a bit too much coordination for my reflexes - I got all the way through the first game, but stopped partway through the second. There were four Tomb Raider games last time I checked.

    The central character of Tomb Raider is Lara Croft - the player controls where she goes, and when she shoots (she controls aiming, and she's very good at it!). Lara's figure is quite impressive; in the first game she was impossibly well-endowed, with a ridiculously tiny waist. In later games she became rather more credible, but still quite, um, shapely. She is a highly skilled adventurer, a female Indiana Jones, only more so.

    When rumours started to surface about a movie based on Tomb Raider, much of the debate centred on where they might find an actress as well-endowed, and whether she'd attempt any of the gymnastics for which Lara is well-known.

    They chose Angelina Jolie. She is certainly not under-endowed. She reported for work well before they began shooting - over three months early, in fact. She spent the time learning some of the things she needed - she was dieting, doing weight training, learning how to fight, how to shoot, and how to ride a motorbike. She did all manner of other exercises, too, including yoga and bungee-jumping. The results are impressive. She is extraordinary in this role - very convincing. Although they'd prepared stunt doubles for everything, she did many of the stunts herself. One of the most beautiful moments is the "bungee ballet" - you'll recognise it when you see it - and she did all of it herself.

    They have gone to extreme lengths to convince the fans of the game. Everything familiar is present: the small pack, the famous shorts and T shirt, the plait, the sunglasses, the gun belt (complete with leg straps). There are some touches which were never explored in the games - how she reloads, for example (very slick). The attention to detail is impressive. There are some differences: Angelina Jolie does not have the hard edges of the game's Lara, and her hair is darker. There's plenty of CGI in this movie (there's an extra all about it), but none of it is used to enhance Angelina Jolie.

    Lara Croft Tomb Raider, sensibly, does not attempt to duplicate the story line of any of the games. The story here surrounds the fulfilling of a plot that's been 5000 years in development. So often, you feel the need to ask "why hasn't someone found X earlier?" - this time they have an answer for that, because what they are looking for cannot be found until the right moment - it is hidden in time as well as space - very neat.

     The movie makes a big deal of Lara's father, Lord Croft, who was an archaeologist. Lara has to complete the work that her father began. Lord Croft is played (very well) by Jon Voight, who happens to be Angelina Jolie's father - fits nicely with some of the mystical themes of the movie.

    Tomb Raider is a meeting between the ultra-modern (she has some magnificent toys, including awesome binoculars, and a weird record player) and the ancient. She may be entering ancient temples, but she does it with the latest equipment. Not that she's averse to older technology, where it works - she's rather good with a dog sled team.

    Tomb Raider is an equal opportunity film: we do get to see Lara in the shower (a lot of people have been waiting for that!), but later we get to see Alex West in the shower, too. And this film is rated M, so Lara's shower scene is only shot from the shoulders up, while Alex is seen from the waist up. Sorry!

    Tomb Raider has always explored the world. The film does, too. We may begin in England, but we get to visit several foreign locations - magnificent scenery, and perfect justification for the 2.35:1 widescreen photography; very lush, and very beautiful.

    I was amused by one of the observations made in a featurette: most of the major roles are played by actors using accents not their own. Lara and Lord Croft (English) are played by Americans, Manfred Powell (English) is played by a Scot, and Alex West (American) is played by an Englishman. Cute. More amusement is provided by Lara's butler Hillary, played by Christopher Barrie (Rimmer in Red Dwarf, and Brittas in The Brittas Empire), and her technical genius Bryce (Noah Taylor).

    I fully expected this film to be a disappointment - I doubted anything could live up to the Lara Croft I'd played with. I am pleased to say that I was wrong. This movie is exciting from start to finish. I wonder if they are planning a sequel?

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Paramount have given this film a marvellous transfer, with one mistake that lasts for a few frames.

    This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced; it looks exactly as it did in the cinema.

    The image is sharp and clear, but not so sharp as to invite aliasing - a lovely piece of work. The lighting is moody, and yet shadow detail is excellent. There's no trace of low-level noise.

    Colour is superb. No colour bleed; no oversaturation.

    There is no visible aliasing, no moire, and no MPEG artefacts. There is one film or transfer artefact. It is a nasty black blob in the top right corner around 32:52 - it lasts five frames in all. It is quite visible, but doesn't really detract from the movie.

    There are subtitles in six languages, including English. The English dialogue is subtitled in yellow, while the dialogue in other languages is subtitled in white. Quite readable, and well-timed. I spotted a couple of errors; the most obvious being "seems I'm level begging with Mr Powell" - that should be "level pegging", a reference to the card game cribbage. There are subtitles (in English) for the audio commentary, too - a nice touch.

    The disc is single-sided and dual-layered. I think it is simple dual layer and not RSDL. There is no layer change in the movie - they have managed to place the movie on layer 0, and all the extras on layer 1 - very nice.

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

Audio

    There are only two soundtracks - the main soundtrack in English Dolby Digital 5.1, and the director's commentary in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue is mostly easy to understand, although one or two of Bryce's comments are a bit unclear. Audio sync is not a problem.

    The score is by Graeme Revell. It is excellent. The music evokes the environment in each case. Very cool. U2's theme song comes on during the closing credits.

    The surrounds get used for some nice directional effects, and to wrap the score around you. The subwoofer gets lots of use, to heighten the ominous feelings and the special effects. If you don't have 5.1 sound, you won't be experiencing the movie.

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

Extras

    There are lots of extras on this disc - everything except the conventional (yup, no trailer, no cast and crew bios - I don't miss them).

Menu

    The main menu is static, with ominous sound. There are wonderful animated transitions between menus, and between menus and features..

Featurette: Crafting Lara Croft (6:46)

    Turning Angelina Jolie into Lara Croft. Quite interesting.

Commentary: Simon West director

    Far from the worst commentary I've listened to, but not enthralling. As the commentary continues he leaves longer and longer gaps, as though he was running out of things to say. One thing he did mention: Angelina Jolie has something like 23 tattoos on various parts of her body, and each day of shooting the makeup artists had to cover those tattoos which would otherwise be visible. The only one I noticed during the featurettes was the one on her shoulder, which would require quite some coverage, being black against her pale skin.

DVD-ROM Features

    I didn't look at these, but the listed features are:

Deleted Scenes

Featurette: Stunts (9:24) 

    Discussing some of the stunt work involved in the film.

Featurette: Digging Into Tomb Raider (25:27) 

    The biggest of the featurettes. There is some overlap between this featurette and most of the others, but it is still worth watching each of them. It's fairly obvious that the reason they chopped the others out of this one was to keep them under the 30 minute limit (if the featurette exceeds 30 minutes then it doesn't count as advertising for the film, and the actors must be paid for participating).

Music Video: U2 Elevation (3:52) 

    It's a music video. I don't like music videos. But I must admit that this one is a bit more creative than most, although I don't understand the reason for the giraffe...

Featurette: Are You Game? (7:59) 

    An exploration of Tomb Raider the game, and how it seemed to arrive at the right time.

Alternative Main Title (2:00) 

    A different, more complex, opening title sequence. I prefer the one they used.

Featurette: Visual Effects (20:03) 

    Discussing some of the most complex CGI work:

Easter Egg: Interview (2:06) 

    Not very well hidden, this Easter egg is accessed from the Special Features menu. It's an interview with Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight about how they felt acting together.

R4 vs R1

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

    Rarely have I seen two versions of a disc that are so similarly featured - even the artwork is close to identical. The differences are few: 

    The Region 4 disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    The audio and video quality of the two discs are pretty much identical - equally good. The black artefact I mention above is present on the R1, too, so it is either on the source material, or both discs were done from a common high def transfer.

    The only difference I consider important are the subtitles for the commentary - they are important to our hearing impaired friends, and you can have them on while watching the film with the regular soundtrack. The layer change on the R1 is near the end of the film, and almost invisible, but it is rather cool not to have a layer change at all, as we do on the R4.

    I'm recommending the R4 disc unless you want a French soundtrack.

Summary

    Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is an excellent action movie, presented very well on DVD.

    The video quality is superb, marred by one film artefact.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    There are heaps of extras, displaying imagination beyond the average.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, December 23, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, 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 and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
I admit, it gets better when you watch it on DVD... - Dean M (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
You've Gotta Hate Typos! - REPLY POSTED
DVD-Rom Extras -