Tomb Raider is a re-imagining of Tomb Raider as an adventure film that aims to tell the origins of Lara Croft following on from the terrific Tomb Raider videogame reboot and its sequel titled Rise of the Tomb Raider which has resulted in the Tomb Raider series and Lara Croft’s character being at the peak of their popularity and quality in storytelling. Lara Croft became an iconic videogame character in 1996 when the first Tomb Raider videogame was released on PS1 and received much attention for starring a female protagonist, while the original game was followed by four sequels on PS1 which saw Lara Croft gain even more prominence across the entertainment industry. During the transition to PS2; Angel of Darkness saw the series lose its way somewhat, although it did massively bounce back with a series of successful titles including Legend and Anniversary on PS2 which were later re-mastered for PS3 in a trilogy story arc that also included Underworld which had previously released as the first Tomb Raider game on PS3. The character and the series are certainly no strangers to spin-offs as there have even been a range of side projects such as Game Boy Advance spin-off games that are not considered to be connected to any of the story arcs found in the home console games, alongside isometric home console games titled Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light for PS3 in 2010, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris on PS4 in 2014 and a further isometric game albeit in a turn-based fashion named Lara Croft GO which released for mobile devices in 2015 before being ported to Vita and PS4 in late 2016. The Tomb Raider videogame reboot released in March 2013 before a next-gen port in January 2014 with sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider releasing in November 2015 on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC before receiving a port including all-new content on PS4 that celebrated the Tomb Raider franchise’s 20th anniversary, while a third game within the reboot trilogy titled Shadow of the Tomb Raider releases in September 2018. Can the Tomb Raider film reboot follow in the footsteps of the Tomb Raider videogame reboot in its quality of character building, storytelling, action and adventure?

Tomb Raider is far more of an origin story in comparison to the two previous Tomb Raider films; whereas they began with a more established Lara Croft, this Tomb Raider film reboot depicts Lara Croft as a strong independent young woman who decides to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her father Richard Croft and in searching for the missing adventurer, her own adventure begins.

Within the first 15 minutes it is established that Lara’s father is an explorer and Lara’s training regiment, job and financial situation before quickly showing Lara’s puzzle solving ability when exploring Croft Manor. Lara funds her adventure by selling a prized item rather than accepting her inheritance as she refuses to believe her father is no longer with her; leading to a cameo of Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) as a shop owner. Lara Croft’s expedition begins around 25 minutes into the story as she globe trots from her home city to Hong Kong before venturing on the seas with plenty of action, adventure and storytelling in equal measure. There are also a couple of fun references such as how the camera focuses on a gecko perched on a tree 57 minutes and 38 seconds into the film as a reference to Gex Gecko that was developed by Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics.

Tomb Raider features an exceptional cast of talent starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft (Ex Machina, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Jason Bourne), Dominic West as Richard Croft (Chicago, The Punisher: War Zone and John Carter), Walton Goggins as Mathias Vogel (Shield, Justified and Ant-Man and the Wasp), Daniel Wu as Lu Ren (Jackie Chan’s New Police Story, Warcraft: The Beginning and Into the Badlands), Kristin Scott Thomas as Ana Miller (The Invisible Woman and The Darkest Hour), Derek Jacobi as Mr. Yaffe (Gladiator and Underworld: Evolution), Maisy De Freitas as Lara at 7 years old and Emily Carey as Lara at 14 years old (Wonder Woman and Anastasia).

I was initially sceptical of the casting of Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft as I along with a fair few Tomb Raider fans were hoping to see the gymnastically trained Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries, The Return of Xander Cage and Reebok Women and Les Mills fitness apparel ambassador) portray the role of Lara Croft, but a true sign of a great actress is being able to win over the audience and by the end of the film; I was convinced that Alicia Vikander’s performance as Lara Croft was genuinely believable from start to finish. Lara’s dialogue is playful and fun in a comedy tone when she is surrounded by friends, caring in her flashback scenes with her father, but becomes far more serious and emotional when planning her expedition and looking for answers as to what happened to her father. Walton Goggins delivers an excellent performance that sees his antagonistic character really playing off the heroism of Lara Croft, while having his own motivation to escape the island their separate journeys are situated on. Meanwhile, the entire cast offer performances worthy of a cinematic blockbuster Tomb Raider film; not only in dialogue, but all of their mannerisms match the tone of each scene with skilled precision from their acting experience and expert directing.

Tomb Raider is superbly directed by Roar Uthaug (The Wave and Cold Prey) with an excellently written script by Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Captain Marvel and Dungeons and Dragons) and Alastair Siddons (Trespass Against Us) from a story by Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsmen and Divergent) and Geneva Robertson-Dworet. George Richmond (Kingsman: The Golden Circle) captures the cinematography in the appropriate tone, while producers include Graham King (The Departed and Edge of Darkness), Genevieve Hofmeyr (Safe House, Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Mummy), Patrick McCormick (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Allied) and Denis O’Sullivan (The 5th Wave and Bohemian Rhapsody).

From a visual standpoint; Tomb Raider gets it right on so many different aspects such as the real world locations of London and those that were replicated with Hong Kong, the realism of the areas contained inside the vast labyrinth of exploration and puzzles and the tomb itself in comparison to the Tomb Raider videogames is absolutely incredible. Elsewhere, the glimpse of certain areas in Croft Manor and all of the special effects involved in action set pieces and Lara’s traversal look spectacular, while every character’s look and costumes are accurate to what Tomb Raider fans would have anticipated to the finer details such as the shade of Lara’s inventory backpack.

The Blu-Ray 3D version bundled in with the 1080p Blu-Ray; provides stereoscopic 3D that adds more depth to every scene as it is visible that characters and puzzles are layered in the foreground ahead of their surroundings. Elsewhere, there are specific scenes that contain more expansive layering to accentuate certain components such as chasms, explosions and more besides. For instance, the shipwreck scene focuses the 3D elements on weather conditions and the crashing of the waves at sea, while the water rapids emphasises the bubbles underneath the water’s surface until Lara dangles from the rusted plane that shows real depth to highlight the predicament she would be in if she was to fall, when in the plane there are lots of 3D effects on the debris bouncing around the plane and a parachute sequence has foreground emphasis on Lara, but not the trees she is hurtling through. The stereoscopic 3D experience is pretty good, although it could have benefited from more depth on particular elements during the shipwreck scene for the underwater debris and in action scenes such as Lara’s bow and arrow moving through the air at such velocity towards her enemies.

Meanwhile, the separate ultra HD release of Tomb Raider (bundled with a 1080p Blu-Ray) provides an improvement in picture quality throughout the film, while bringing more life to certain key scenes. For instance, in 4K resolution compared to 1080p HD; there is an emphasis on the rusty surface of the plane in the water rapids scene and the entrance to the tomb has greater detail on the unlocking mechanism puzzles, while crowded scenes such as a bike race sequence and the Hong Kong harbour clearly have better quality to the image. High dynamic range (HDR) does not upgrade the colour palette, but it precisely balances the contrast between darker and lighter elements within scenes. For instance, the underwater debris during the shipwreck are more pronounced resulting in the debris looking far more dangerous, while exploration in the tomb’s catacombs is an elevated contrast between light and darkness as the explorers are more brightly outlined by their glow sticks and torches in contrast to the darker surrounding environment that makes everything look far more foreboding as though the explorers are venturing into the unknown.

The audio is always engaging from the beginning until the end from dialogue to sounds during fight scenes, aerial traversal and action scenes to the soundtrack composed by Junkie XL (Divergent, Mad Max: Fury Road and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice) in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, especially when heard through headphones, although Dolby Atmos is naturally even better. Every version of Tomb Raider with exception to the Blu-Ray 3D offers Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English Descriptive Audio, although DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is the default audio option, so those of you who have an entertainment system that supports Dolby Atmos will want to adjust the audio settings accordingly via the audio options menu.

Tomb Raider’s value on the Blu-Ray 3D and Blu-Ray combo begins with the inclusion of a digital version of the film included for viewing on iOS and Android devices. Special features comprises Tomb Raider: Uncovered that delves into what the cast and crew thought of the performances, script, sets and how major locations and set pieces were filmed; Croft Training showcases how Alicia Vikander trained and ate accordingly to be in Lara Croft’s peak physical fitness; Breaking Down the Rapids depicts how the rapids scene from falling in the water to ending up in an abandoned aircraft was filmed, how the stunts were choreographed and how visual effects were applied to bring the entire scene together; and Lara Croft: Evolution of an Icon focuses on the history of Lara Croft and Tomb Raider, origins in design concept and development, the franchise from the very first game all the way through to the reboot and almost every game in-between and Tomb Raider: The Movie with interviews from the cast, crew, senior community manager of Crystal Dynamics, author of the 20 Years of Tomb Raider book and Lara Croft cosplayer Meagan Marie and Pop Culture videogame specialist Erika Ishii. However, there are no deleted, extended or alternate scenes that would have put the icing on the cake within the special features department.

Analysis

  • Title: Tomb Raider
  • Studio: GK Films and Square Enix
  • Publisher: Warner Bros and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) Pictures
  • Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas and Derek Jacobi
  • Film Running Time: 1:57:50
  • Special Features Running Time: 28:39
  • Media: Blu-Ray 3D, 4K Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital
  • Age Rating Certification: 12 (region 2)/PG-13 (region 1)

Tomb Raider can be purchased in America’s region 1 in a variety of versions from Amazon US:

Blu-Ray 3D, Blu-Ray and Digital
4K Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray
Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital
Digital

Tomb Raider can be purchased in the UK and Europe’s region 2 in a variety of versions from Amazon UK:

Blu-Ray 3D, Blu-Ray and Digital
Blu-Ray and Digital
DVD

Tomb Raider can also be purchased in the UK and Europe’s region 2 in a greater variety of versions including a limited edition exclusive steelbook available in-store and online from HMV:

Blu-Ray 3D, Blu-Ray and Digital
4K Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray and Digital
Blu-Ray and Digital
DVD

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