It was a pivotal summer in the year of 2001 and a pivotal mass-budget epic was about to be released onto unsuspecting eyeballs. Its viewers would forever be changed as a timeless blockbuster took over the world….
…okay, maybe LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER was not THAT important. It was already a busy summer at the movies and the Angelina Jolie-starring actioner came, did good business and moved on. Helmed by action filmmaker Simon West (CON AIR), LCTR was a Summer B-Movie and it still worked largely thanks to a light-hearted storyline along with over-the-top action and pyrotechnics, led by the stunning Angelina Jolie who is a perfect fit to play our hero who is after ancient artifacts and keeping the bad guys away as much as she can. With her traditional double pistols, she is a force not to be messed with.
It’s sequel, THE CRADLE OF LIFE, went into a pure globe-trotting adventure that is a bit more assured thanks to filmmaker Jan De Bont (SPEED, TWISTER) who amps up the fun. What’s also fun about these movies is they both have pre-fame Daniel Craig and Gerard Butler in the respective movies as Lara’s love interest, and both are fun to watch before they both became major movie stars.
The TOMB RAIDER movies are based off of a popular video game series and doing these movies were met with varying critical and audience success. I only played a couple of the games but was more interested in the movies thanks to its stunning lead. This series has been rebooted a few years ago with Alicia Vikander in the title role, but I really do feel this is Angelina Jolie’s role and really do wish she had a few more cinematic adventures back in the day.
I feel like these movies are forgotten now, so it’s pretty great that Paramount has dusted off these two movies for a new 4k release, packaged together as a two-movie set for 4k collectors.
About the 4k release:
TOMB RAIDER arrives 20 years later in a fully restored 4k, Dolby Vision transfer that, no joke, looks BETTER to me watching it on a 65” monitor than the soft theatrical print I still remember seeing in a cinema so long ago. The movie was shot on 35mm film in the Super 35 format, which was always a challenging format for wide release movies. I remember the print being projected in a VERY good theatre but because so many prints were made so quickly and also blown-up from a spherical source, the quality was so varied depending on which cinema you saw the movie projected.
Here, I can tell a nice amount of digital work here from scanning the original 35mm elements to bring the movie up to 2021 high-def standards. Much of the movie has a light blue-tint to it along with a pretty heavy grain level. The movie clearly doesn’t look like a lot of current productions and instead retains a latitude of late 90s/early 2000s studio pictures. I’m thrilled to see it look this sharp and colourful on disc, and it’s another great example of the power of this 4k format.
The sequel looks much different on 4k and it also has quite a different visual style thanks to director Jan De Bont. The movie is shot in anamorphic 35mm so the wide compositions look and feel quite different, and in this case it looks more like an updated 4k transfer from an already existing high-def source so while it looks solid overall, it just doesn’t have that “pop” to it that the first transfer has.
Sound-wise, both DTS master audio tracks are very loud and aggressive at times. I found with the first TOMB RAIDER that the music stood out more, whereas CRADLE OF LIFE had much more aggressive sound effects and use of bass and surrounds. Neither were remastered in Dolby Atmos for even better spatial separation, however the DTS Master Audio tracks totally deliver.
TOMB RAIDER and its sequel are both being re-released in 4k and for TOMB RAIDER as well a 20th Anniversary 4k/Blu Ray edition which comes with a bunch of additional features. This 4k version I received from Paramount for review only has the movies in 4k with no bonus features aside from a commentary track by Simon West. This appears to be typical with most 4k releases and in this case, the dual movie version only has 4k discs. But there’s a fun little trick to see the features ANYWAY; I redeemed the Apple TV codes inside the package which contain all the features once I turned on my Apple TV 4K box. It’s a nice mix of featurettes looking back on the movie two decades later, and there’s also the infamous U2 “Elevation” music video that brought back a lot of memories of hearing this song in that summer of 2001. CRADLE OF LIFE only has a couple of production featurettes included making this more of a bare-bones disc.
Overall this is a really fun set and an easy purchase if you have 4k capabilities and want some Angelina for your home theater and it can can be found for a reasonable price on most online retailers. Just also make sure you redeem those included Apple TV codes to check out those bonus features!
TOMB RAIDER and TOMB RAIDER THE CRADLE OF LIFE are now available on 4k and Blu Ray. Many thanks to Paramount PR for sending along a copy for review!