Tomb Raider (Blu-ray) (2018)

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Released 20-Jun-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Tomb Raider: Uncovered
Featurette-Croft Training
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Breaking Down the Rapids
Featurette-Lara Croft: Evolution of an Icon
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2018
Running Time 117:49
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Roar Uthaug
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Alicia Vikander
Dominic West
Walton Goggins
Daniel Wu
Kristin Scott Thomas
Derek Jacobi
Alexandre Willaume
Hannah John-Kamen
Nick Frost
Jaime Winstone
Michael Obiora
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Junkie XL


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Mid credits scene

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Plot Synopsis

    2018's Tomb Raider represents the second attempt to adapt the long-running video game series of the same name into a big-screen blockbuster franchise, fifteen years after the first cinematic incarnation (starring Angelina Jolie) petered out after a mere two instalments. This reboot takes its cues primarily from the 2013 video game reboot, merging the game's broad plot strokes and reimagined Lara Croft with Batman Begins-style gritty realism, and it's an origin story to boot. Despite refined visuals and an intriguing change of direction, this new Tomb Raider only works in fits and starts, marred by uneven pacing and an overcomplicated story. A movie this technically proficient and expensive has no business being so lacklustre and cold to the touch.

    Seven years ago, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West) mysteriously vanished on a business trip, and his daughter Lara (Alicia Vikander) still clings to the possibility that he is alive. Struggling to make a living as a bicycle courier in London, Lara stands to inherit her father's vast fortune, but refuses to sign the paperwork to declare him legally deceased. However, Richard's business partner Ana (Kristin Scott Thomas) warns Lara that Richard's estate will be sold off if she does not accept the inheritance. Discovering a clue left in her father's will, Lara is led to his private office, learning of Richard's secret life as an adventurer and finding his research about Japanese witch Himiko. Although Richard's pre-recorded message instructs Lara to destroy his work, she seeks to use it to find him, travelling to Hong Kong where she teams with boat captain Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) to locate the remote island of Yamatai off the coast of Japan. Shipwrecked after navigating violent waters, Lara discovers that Yamatai is under the control of mercenaries led by Vogel (Walter Goggins) who seek to weaponise Himiko's power on behalf of the shadowy organisation Trinity.

    Narratively, this Tomb Raider boils down to a less thematically-resonant riff on the aforementioned 2013 video game. Most of the appeal of the original games is stripped away in favour of the "origin story" format, refusing to cut loose as the film builds towards the Lara Croft we know, down to a mid-credits scene in which she obtains her coveted dual pistols. Couple this with a painfully generic story set-up, and this reviewer was left wanting to watch a sequel instead. In addition, whereas Lara is the prominent focus of the video games, facing physical challenges and solving puzzles, 2018's Tomb Raider is inexplicably a group effort. With Lara not yet a confident woman of action, Lu Ren is allotted a bizarrely large role in the proceedings, presumably because generic would-be blockbusters such as this now heavily rely on China to make money. Furthermore, the script by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons is tonally inconsistent; over-the-top set-pieces are the order of the day, yet there is also a grim scene observing Lara who's traumatised in the immediate aftermath of her first kill.

    Determined to distinguish this Tomb Raider from the cartoonish Jolie-starring pictures, director Roar Uthaug (2015's The Wave) and cinematographer George Richmond (Children of Men) imbue the material with an effectively gritty look, reminiscent of the 2013 game. Production values are expectedly nice across the board, with vivid digital effects that show how far CGI has come since the original movies. Visually, there is much to appreciate about Tomb Raider, which is unsurprising given the hefty budget. Uthaug proves a proficient visual stylist, making astute use of the locations and sets, establishing a palpable sense of place and atmosphere while on the island. It is clear, however, that the filmmakers took more influence from Uncharted than Tomb Raider - as a matter of fact, on top of the evident aesthetic influence, one of the narrative twists here is lifted directly from the first Uncharted game. Still, isolated sections of the movie do work, with well-staged sequences that deserve to be seen on the largest possible screen. Aside from the occasional shootouts, the film's centrepiece involves Lara being pursued through the jungle and down rushing rapids, leaving her trapped on an airplane wreckage precariously perched atop a waterfall. Additionally, the third act involves some actual tomb raiding, living up the movie's title.

    One of the primary issues relates to pacing; the narrative is dense and overcomplicated, which requires endless monotonous exposition to make it comprehensible. Despite handsome visuals, Uthaug is unable to liven the humdrum script - Tomb Raider is often a slog between the action beats. It's telling that Stuart Baird receives an editorial credit; he's renowned for being brought onto troubled projects to salvage movies in the editing room. Moreover, Tomb Raider strives for heart and emotion through Richard and Lara's relationship, yet it never gains much traction despite the endless flashbacks to hammer home how close they were. Still, Vikander is fine as Lara, though there is not much depth to the character and she is decidedly more self-serious than Jolie. West, on the other hand, displays severely limited range, while the reliable Goggins turns in a passable performance as the underwritten key villain. There are also a few high-end British actors in the movie's first act (including Kristin Scott Thomas and Derek Jacobi) to keep viewers wondering if one of them is a secret bad guy. The only humour is supplied by Nick Frost and Jaime Winstone as married pawnbrokers who only appear in two short scenes.

    The Jolie-starring Lara Croft films were not especially good from a critical standpoint, but they nailed the video game's goofiness and had a genuine sense of identity. 2018's Tomb Raider, on the other hand, is disposable, formulaic and flavourless; merely a vehicle for Vikander to show off her potential as an action lead. Despite a few worthwhile action sequences (certain scenes and beats truly feel like a video game, too), the picture lacks intrigue, charm and momentum, while the origin story format restricts how much fun can be had. With the box office underperformance in mind, it's unlikely that a follow-up will ever materialise despite an ending that directly sets up sequels. Perhaps there will be another reboot in another fifteen years.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Tomb Raider arrives on home video courtesy of Roadshow in a number of flavours: this standard Blu-ray, a 3D Blu-ray, and a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. According to IMDb, this reboot was captured digitally using Arri Alexa cameras, before being completed with a 4K digital intermediate. Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1, Tomb Raider's AVC-encoded, 1080p Blu-ray transfer is mastered with a fine but unremarkable average video bitrate of 24 Mbps. With the disc carrying such a small selection of special features, almost 20GB of unused space is left on this dual-layered BD-50, which is a real shame. When Roadshow/Warner Bros. do master movies with higher bitrates, the results are often extraordinary - just see Father Figures or Lights Out - but they persist with this baffling practise of heavily compressing new release movies more often than not. Whatever the case, Tomb Raider does look reasonably good on Blu-ray at least, with strong colours and texturing - casual viewers will probably have no issues with it. However, the picture quality looks closer to a stream than a high quality physical disc, and videophiles will much prefer the 4K UHD alternative. (Thank God it actually exists in spite of middling box office earnings.)

    Despite the compression, there is much to like about Tomb Raider's Blu-ray presentation. For the most part, texturing is impressive on clothing and environments, particularly in well-lit scenes. The Blu-ray reveals every nuance on Lara's costuming, while outfits on other supporting characters and henchmen are well-defined. Moreover, the image is beautifully sharp for the most part, allowing for refinement on West's facial hair or on the intricately designed sets. Unsurprisingly, clarity also fares best in daylight scenes, for instance an early bike chase through London, a sequence set at Hong Kong docks, or basically anything in the jungle on Yamatai. The transfer also impresses from a colour standpoint; although there is no High Dynamic Range at play, colours nevertheless look vivid and beautifully saturated (though not overdone), with the jungles in particular looking lush. Contrast is also relatively good, creating an adequate sense of depth within the limitations of a 1080p encode. Blacks are sufficiently deep, though clarity and refinement does suffer in darker moments. The sequences in question of course fare much better on the 4K disc. Furthermore, the flashback scenes are deliberately desaturated, though the intended palette doesn't agreeably translate to 1080p; these scenes look rather lifeless on the whole.

    The encode does have its shortcomings as a result of the compression. I noticed some moire patterning on the mesh chairs at the police station at the 10-minute mark. In addition, there are some slight moments of minor macroblocking, and other shots or moments simply look overly smooth, with the restricted bitrate forbidding finer textures. These moments stand out all the more since Tomb Raider is a digital production, and the video is almost entirely free of source noise. Minor smeariness appears from time to time as well, particularly on faces. Shadow detail of course struggles in limited lighting, for instance when Lara fights a henchman in the mud at night, or during the tomb raiding which constitutes the climax. These are the more noticeable moments when the image looks too smooth, though again there is only so much that can be done with a 1080p Blu-ray. Luckily, no major compression issues spoil the image, such as aliasing or ringings - edges look sharp and nicely defined. On the whole, Tomb Raider is watchable on Blu-ray, but there's no excuse for the compression - this should be a 4.5 or 5-star video transfer, given the source.

    Multiple subtitle options are available. The English track is completely problem-free to my eyes.

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

Audio

    Bafflingly, Tomb Raider denotes yet another Roadshow/Warner Bros. title that arrives on home video with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core), but the disc defaults to a 16-bit DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. Therefore, if you want the superior aural experience, you will need to specifically select the Atmos track from the main menu prior to playing. Hell, if you stop the disc and come back to it later, you'll need to re-select Atmos because it defaults back to the 5.1. I suppose we can be thankful that Atmos remains an option (particularly with the 3D release only offering a 5.1 track), and the mix isn't botched like so many Disney releases, but this remains an irritating trend nevertheless.

    As to the quality of the audio, the Atmos mix is the preferable option of course. The DTS track is a bit more aggressive and is mixed higher, but the dynamic range is somewhat squashed - by comparison, the Atmos mix is richer and more nuanced. The dynamic range of the Atmos track is pure reference material, putting Disney's recent output to shame. I cannot comment on the overhead activity since I only have a 7.1 set-up, but the benefits of Atmos vs. 5.1 are nevertheless readily apparent. Every constituent of the soundscape has its own distinct place, from birds chirping to ocean waves while aboard the Endurance. Subtle panning effects are used whenever firearms are discharged or arrows are fired - just see the precise panning as Lara fires an arrow past the camera at the 35-minute mark. When the Endurance hits violent waters, the soundscape positively comes alive, mixing the rumbling of the storm with Junkie XL's score, raindrops and waves, while dialogue comes through with perfect prioritisation.

    The surrounds are consistently put to great use, with music and environmental ambience creating a full and immersive soundscape. The jungle sounds alive with insects, while speakers are filled with both diegetic and non-diegetic gunfire (as well as bullet impacts) during the action sequences. The track is robust and deafening as well, with the subwoofer frequently coming alive to give genuine impact to the major set-pieces - particularly the storm at sea, or Lara going down the rapids. Clarity is flawless, with absolutely no unnecessary compression compromising the quality of the mix; nothing sounds "tinny" or held back. Indeed, there is no hissing, nor did I detect any drop-outs/pops/clicks or sync issues - the sound is pristine from start to finish, as to be expected from a 2018 new release title. Long story short, the Atmos track is perfection. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix will be subject to review in my coverage of the 3D Blu-ray, but suffice it to say, it's no match for the object-based Atmos track.

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

Extras

    Only four featurettes are included, none of which are overly substantive. Don't expect a commentary or any deleted scenes.

Tomb Raider: Uncovered (HD; 7:06)

   This first behind-the-scenes featurette fundamentally amounts to a truncated "making of," rushing through as many topics as possible as quickly as possible without providing much in the way of substance. Through cast and crew interviews, this segment covers development, the approach to the movie, the characters, the visual style, the action scenes, the locations/sets, and more. This is an overly self-congratulatory piece at times, though the behind-the-scenes footage is interesting to see.

Croft Training (HD; 6:06)

    Next on the disc is the almost obligatory extra covering the training that Vikander undertook to play the part of Lara Croft. Cue six minutes of obligatory gym footage, stunt footage, film clips, footage of Vikander eating a strict diet, and interviews with cast and crew (as well as Vikander's personal trainer) as they sing the star's praises. This feels very EPK and promotional, though it's not entirely unpleasant.

Breaking Down the Rapids (HD; 5:34)

    This brisk featurette concentrates on the standout rapids/airplane wreckage sequence, which is one of the movie's most successful set-pieces. Revealing behind-the-scenes footage shows how the segments of the sequence were shot, including doing certain things practically, while stunt coordinators and other crew discuss the shoot in sufficient detail.

Lara Croft: Evolution of an Icon (HD; 9:53)

    This final featurette is concerned with the Tomb Raider franchise as a whole. Several enthusiasts walk us through the history of the video games and discuss their impact on popular culture. The 2013 video game reboot is covered, and how it led into this 2018 cinematic incarnation.

R4 vs R1

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

    Special features are the same worldwide. Buy local.

Summary

    I can't say I hated Tomb Raider, but I didn't especially love it either. Once again, a video game adaptation has fallen short of the mark, though it's not entirely without merit and I did enjoy it to a certain extent.

    On Blu-ray, Tomb Raider positively shines, with a serviceable but imperfect 1080p transfer and a nuanced, crystal clear Dolby Atmos track. The selection of bonus material, though, is underwhelming. For fans of the movie, this is a fine purchase (on special, mind you), whereas everybody else should try before they buy.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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