Friday, June 15, 2018

TOMB RAIDER (2018) (Warner Bros. 4K Ultra HD Review)

TOMB RAIDER (2018) 

Label: Warner Bros.
Region Code: A
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 118 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 2160p 4K UltraHD Widescreen(2.40:1), 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1)
Director: Roar Uthaug

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins as Mathias Vogel,, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas 


I was never an avid player of the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider games, my playing of the game began and stopped with the original PlayStation platform, and I didn't even care for it then, I hate story mode games, I just want to play one on one and kills someone, I am simple that way. However, I did see the previous Angelina Jolie films, and have to say I wasn't a fan of them either, they were unintentionally campy and way too slick for my tastes. So I come into this 2018 reboot having no real history to draw from when comparing this reboot to the various video game iterations, and I'd sooner prefer to forget the previous films, so maybe I am an ideal audience for this reboot, coming into it without expectation or baggage. 

Even having just a cursory knowledge of the game and the previous films the story is solidly familiar with a few change-ups, we have Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) as Lara Croft, when we catch-up to her we discover that her father Richard Croft (Dominic West, Punisher: War Zone) has been missing for about seven years. Lara has steadfastly refused to sign the paperwork declaring him dead, thereby temporarily forfeiting her inheritance, and she's making a meager living as a bike courier delivering pizza, When her father's business partner Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas, The Other Boleyn Girl) informs her that if she doesn't sign the paperwork she will lose her father's beloved estate she reluctantly agrees to sign the document, and is promptly given a puzzle box as was requested by her father... no, it's not the Lament Configuration from the Hellraiser films, though that would have maybe been a better film perhaps and certainly no worse than any of the last Pinhead stories! 


Lara cracks the puzzle code and is rewarded with a clue hidden inside it, which leads her to her father's secret lab/repository journals chronically his adventures throughout the world, she also finds a pre-recorded video message from him, it's one of those "if you're seeing this I am probably dead" messages, which tells of his obsession with the ancient fable of a mythical Queen whom is told to have had power over life and death, also revealing he believes he has found her whereabouts on a remote island, but he fears this knowledge will fall into the wrong hands, namely that of a secretive evil-organization known as Trinity. He asks that she destroy all of his journals relating to the location, which she promptly ignores, travelling to Hong Kong in hopes of finding her father, or at least discovering what his final fate was. To that end she hires a drunken ship's captain, Lu Ren (Daniel Wu, TV's Into the Badlands), who for the right price - and to also find out what happened to his own father who was working with Richard Croft when he went missing. The two set sail into the treacherous Devil's Sea to an uncharted island where adventure, danger and evil men await. 


Arriving on the island they discover that Trinity is already there and have been for seven years, hmm, the same amount of time that her father's been missing, I wonder if they're connected? Trinity is represented on the island by tough-guy minions and archaeologist Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins, The Hateful Eight) who is really the Belloq to Richard Croft's Indiana Jones, and the similarities don't end there, this film freely pilfers from Temple of Doom, The Goonies and more contemporary stuff like The Bourne Identity, which is really what hampers the film in my opinion. As it rolls along it lacks an identity, it's just borrowing/riffing on stuff from better films so liberally I found myself making mental notes every time it referenced something I saw in another movie. It's not that it wasn't well-done, it's an action-packed film that doesn't really let up on the gas pedal much at all once the ball gets rolling, and I enjoyed it a bunch, and to be fair I don't know if these scenes are references in the game by any means, either way, there's a lot of something borrowed here and not a lot of anything new.


Onto the good stuff, I really dig Alicia Vikander as the titular character,  she's strong but not infallible, she blows Angelina Jolie's posh caricature out of the water by a country mile. She's really physical in the role, grunting and groaning in equal measure as she pushes herself and is injured in the process. I dig the Temple of Doom styled booby traps, I like the island setting and the sea voyahe there, and I like the initial supernatural element of the film and how it pans out, though I did have some issue with the way they handled the pandemic evil a tiny bit. Walter Goggins is a good villain, slightly conflicted but a bad guy, but I didn't care at all for Dominic West as Croft's father, there was zero chemistry between the two so I didn't feel any of the father/daughter drama that should have been there, that was the weakest part of the film for me, and a lot of it is predicated on that on her desire to find him, but once she does it goes down hill a bit.  


Audio/Video: Tomb Raider (2018) arrives on 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital Combo from Warner Bros, framed in 2.40:1 widescreen, the 4K presentation looks keen, nicely sharp and detailed, the close-ups offering glistening sweat, bits of dirt and the craggy facial pores you've come to expect front he format. The earthy tones are solid and the digital effects are rendered nicely, a set-piece involving a WWII era bomber resting perilously on the edge of a waterfall looks great. As this is a Tomb Raider movie we also have the prerequisite plundering of an ancient and fabled tomb, the dark depths of which looks great, the 4K handling both the sun-drenched exteriors and the cavernous depth of the darker scenes with equal aplomb. 


Audio comes by way of strong Dolby Atmos or DTS-HD MA surround, the Atmos audio is outstanding, I felt immersed into each of the scenes, particularly a scene of a large boat crashing against the rocks during a storm, the sound design of the steel on rock carnage and crashing waves was impressive. Smaller scale directional like the sound of gunfire and are well placed and complement the action onscreen. 

Onto the extras we get a handful of pedestrian EPK-style extras looking at the evolution of the character, the physical training of star Alicia Vikander for the role, and a featurette breaking down the technical beats of the rapids scene. All this adding up to about half hours of material, all very slick and well-produced but not all that meaty, after you've seen many of the tell-all making of docs for exploitation and horror films these newer Hollywood blockbuster extras are anemic.  


Special Features: 
- Tomb Raider: Uncovered - The cast and crew reveal the challenges - and the fun – of bringing Lara Croft’s thrilling adventures of life for a new generation. (7 min) 
- Croft Training - Enter the gym with Award winning actress Alicia Vikander as she prepares for the most physically demanding role of her career and transforms into the iconic action hero Lara Croft. (6 min) 
- Breaking Down the Rapids - Join Director Roar Uthaug as he and other members of the cast and crew break down the film’s most exciting action set piece. (6 min) 
- Lara Croft: Evolution of an Icon - Explore the revolutionary TOMB RAIDER saga from video games to movies, and discover how Lara Croft became one of the most popular and successful female characters of all time. (10 min) 

Tomb Raider (2018) is an entertaining reboot, I found it more fun than the previous cinematic incarnations, Alicia Vikander is a very good Lara Croft, the action was well-executed, but the story itself is hackneyed and a bit predictable, but it's fair popcorn entertainment with some good action and pleasing visuals, and for better or worse I don't think anyone involved with was aiming any higher than that. The 4K presentation is solid  while the extras are slim, but the  movie is entertaining if somewhat disposable.  

Note: This disc was provided to us by Warner Bros. for the purpose f review, the screenshots were sourced from the Blu-ray not the 4K.



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