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Lara Croft, the adventurous daughter of Richard Croft, her missing archaeologist father, discovers the island that her father disappeared and has to push herself beyond her limits to uncover the deadly secret that is hidden there for thousand of years and can put the whole world in danger.
For many years Hollywood tried to turn video games into movies with mixed results. For every mild success like Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat there has been a huge failure like Alone in the Dark and In the name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. The last few years there have been more and more attempts and although the quality has risen at least in production values with movies like Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft there has never been a huge hit that would put films that originated from video games into the front spot.
In 2001 we got Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie with the movie enjoying mediocre success, even though it was a good action film, but making enough money to create a sequel that didn’t have similar success. This put a hold on any future plans with our famous heroine and although through the years there had been talks and rumors for another sequel plans had stuck in development hell.
So we reached the year 2013 when Crystal Dynamics decided to reboot the game, as it had also reached a point where fans were fatigued from so and so video game sequels, with great success making Lara a more realistic character that can be hurt and bleed and put her in impossible situations creating a very cinematic feeling to the whole game. This seemed to have fared well with gamers and fans around the world and the game had great success with positive reviews. I guess this was the turning point when they started thinking about a new Tomb Raider film and in reality as I see they followed the rebooted game very closely even borrowing some of it’s more characteristic scenes.
Rebooting the film meant, a completely new setting, new story, new characters and of course a new Lara Croft. I am sure we all have fond memories of Angelina Jolie in tight shorts wielding dual handguns so when you first see Alicia Vikander in this iconic role you will definitely feel a bit cheated, at least I did. Although Vikander is not Jolie as the movie expands it’s story you will start getting used to her even if her acting in my eyes was not so natural and at times I felt that she was trying too much to get into the character. But at least they tried to keep the character as close as possible to the rebooted game and in this regard they succeeded as she looks very similar to her digital counterpart.
As I mentioned earlier the new Lara Croft tried to be a more realistic, fragile figure in contrast to the untouchable Lara that was portrayed by Jolie. During the film we see her get hurt, bleed, brushed and getting really down and dirty and this is a rather different direction that is not necessary good or bad but it’s a different take and something that was really needed in order to offer something that would feel new and fresh.
As with Vikander giving a mediocre performance I would have to say the same about the rest of the cast. Walton Goggins, the main villain of the film, also gives a very wooden performance and at no point in the film did he give me the feeling that he was a real menace to Lara. In my opinion the casting in general was not so good and although actors tried to give convincing performances the end result is passable at best.
As for the story of the film what we got is pretty much forgettable and more of the same. At no point did I feel excited or in anticipation of what will happen next. In total I had two objections with how they decided to go with the reboot. First of all most people that will see a movie called Tomb Raider will certainly have at least some minor knowledge of the game or the character of Lara Croft. At best they will have played the games and know exactly what to expect. So I found it unnecessary to spend so much of the first act of the film to introduce us the character. Yes we are talking about a reboot that depicts the character in a different way but at the core it’s still the same person.
As for my second objection it has to do with the action of the film. The two films with Angelina Jolie may have been mediocre for some, good for others but all would agree they are pure action films. The new Tomb Raider film felt very toned down on the action part and the few good moments it had were finishing very fast leaving you cold feet. I found it very ridiculous to have a film called Tomb Raider and the only tomb we saw was in the last act of the film.
Technically the movie was great with special effects helping the few action scenes create marvelous set pieces. Scenes like the sea storm, the waterfall with the airplane wreckage and Himiko’s tomb were all masterfully created and at no point did it feel like the CGI were fake. The same can be said about the sound track of the film and although the action was in short supply the few good moments provided an immersive audio experience.
To close up this review I would say that the new Tomb Raider was a valiant effort but with a lackluster result. The story is very forgettable, acting is mediocre but passable and action scenes, although good, are few and far between leaving you unsatisfied. Vikander will grow on you as the new Lara and if they manage to create an interesting story in a more action oriented sequel then there may still be some life left in this iconic character.
Tomb Raider comes in 2160p, HEVC/H.265-encoded UHD disc and there are talks that the film was finished in a 4K digital intermediate (DI). Either this is true or not the end result is very good with very sharp image and very distinguishable textures. Colors are expanded compared to the blu ray disc and this is evident both when we see a general look of the Yamatai island with it’s lush green forests as well as when they enter Himiko’s tomb unveiling new shades of grey and dark colors. HDR also helps to create a better overall image with improved contrast especially in some specific scenes like the sea storm or the waterfall scene with the sparkling water and the shiny metal parts of the airplane wreckage.
The UHD disc comes with a Dolby Atmos track that is both active and aggressive at times. The mix is immersive utilizing the whole array of speakers creating a unique audio experience. During the sea storm when the ship is hitting the rocks the soundtrack will keep you at the edge of your seat while during the last act in Himiko’s tomb ambient and environmental sound effects keep the rear speakers busy and it feels like you are really there. In general I would say that I am pleased with this Atmos audio track but it never reaches reference quality and this has to do mostly with the movie itself and not with the quality of the mix which is superb.
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