Tomb Raider 4K UHD Blu-ray Review
a fast paced, action adventure
Tomb Raider Film Review
All myths are foundations of realityI’m not a fan of games where you fall off things and die. (Mario Karts Rainbow Road; say no more) But I did flirt with the PS original version of Lara and never really got on with it. Coming fresh off Final Fantasy VII it was too quiet, not involving enough and too fiddly. However, the character of Lara and the Tomb Raider series has gone from strength to strength, creating an icon and a world beating phenomenon. When Angelina Jolie took up the mantle of the character for the 2001 and 2003 films they were well received with typical comic book style and dismissive game-to-film cross-over apathy. However, with the game being re-booted and the film rights falling to a new studio the time was ripe for a re-boot of the film franchise; the film, Tomb Raider, is, though, nothing new, relying on a tried and tested formula, even if it does try to appease it’s fans by taking a healthy dose of lore from its own impressive gaming history.
Succeeds as eye-candy action adventure
Lara Croft, now played by Alicia Vikander is heir to an impressive estate if only she will sign the papers declaring her father deceased; instead she spends her life as a bike courier trying to find a solution to the mystery of where her father actually is. This comes a few moments before she is to sign said papers, for a Chinese puzzle box leads her on a mission of discovery that uncovers an supernatural curse, clandestine companies, globetrotting adventure and the answer she so desperately craves.
As an action/adventure film there is a lot to be admired; Vikander is a very capable lead, the story has a decent enough drive, set pieces are engaging and the evil conspiracy and mystery are well maintained. The issue is with the name. The film would work perfectly well without the ‘Lara Croft’ mantle, indeed probably more so as it would remove all that baggage. And whilst it retains an element of ‘fun’ it also conjures up (more than a few) memories of other ‘Raiders’ films, especially the traps portion in the tomb itself. It also manages a few eye rolling moments, and fails to paper over some of the glaring plot holes.
Perhaps I am being too harsh in what is ostensibly eye-candy action; for on that level it does succeed. The film looks good, its zips along, doesn’t take itself too seriously and has enough plot and boo-hissery to keep the momentum up. It does take forever to get to the ‘tomb raiding’ part, but ironically I don’t think there was enough set up of Lara’s abilities and problem solving skill. Still the intention to set up a burgeoning franchise is clear, and based to the return numbers looks like we’ll be seeing much of Lara, let’s hope she does a bit more tomb raiding though….
Tomb Raider 4K PictureTomb Raider was shot digitally using a combination of Arri Alexa Mini and Arri Alexa SXT Plus cameras with resolutions of 3.4K and finished as a 4K DI, which has presumably been used here for this Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The disc presents a native 4K 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the widescreen 2.4:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG), High Dynamic Range, and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for both Dolby Vision and HDR10. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Tomb Raider on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB400 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
natural radiance to the colours
Detail on show is very impressive, skin texture along with sweat and grim is demonstrably clear, along with clothing weaves and hair; while office clutter, or the etchings and drawings of Croft’s notebooks and maps are readable and sharp, and then moving to wider shots, the streets of London or the crowds in Hong Kong are absolutely picturesque. This is helped amiably by WCG and HDR with brings a natural radiance to the colouring so that, the streets of London or the harbours of Hong Kong shine off the screen. Check out the depth of the blues, or the shades of green in the jungles once on the Island.
Black levels are very strong, with a decent amount of shadow detail when needed, anything inside the tomb is terrific, but the Chasm of Souls is particularly impressive. Yet it is with the highlights where the disc really … shines. The glints of light of the London buildings the reflective shimmer off the sea, or, as already alluded to, sweat on our heroine. There is a look to the colours, brought out via the highlights that is so natural and something the Blu-ray can’t hope to deliver. The heat that radiates from the explosion is hot enough to burn your retinas!
Digitally there are no issues to contend with, save some barely perceivable banding in the rock dust as the cave collapses, and the source is as clean as a whistle.
Tomb Raider 4K SoundBeing the action packed extravaganza that it is, there is plenty of scope for the immersive surround scape to thrill you with, and it doesn’t disappoint; check out the waterfall and aeroplane collapse for, perhaps the best surround experience (water crashing, creaking, splitting and falling metal and glass) that has it at all angles. However, the bike chase in London and the boat hopping in Hong Kong put up very competing action. The more subtle moments fair well, descending the stairs in the secret lair, or signing papers in an office are open and natural. Dialogue is clear and precise, sounds perfectly natural and is given directionality when needed. Bass is firm and tight, filling out the bigger effects with some decent LF action, while the score is well layered into the mix and makes good use of all the speakers.
Note: disc defaults to the DTS-HD MA track, be sure to swap to the Atmos in the menu.
Tomb Raider 4K ExtrasAll extra material is found on the accompanying Blu-ray.
Lara Croft: Evolution of an Icon – Spend 10 minutes with the computer version of the character and how she, her stories and gaming experience have developed over time.
Croft Training – 6 minutes with Alicia Vikander as she goes through her training regimen to get in shape for the film.
Tomb Raider: Uncovered – 7 minute ‘cover all bases’ making of feature that includes interviews with cast and crew as they big up the film to clips of the finished article.
Breaking Down the Rapids – A 5 minute examination of this action set piece.
Tomb Raider 4K VerdictTomb Raider is a reboot of the film franchise first made popular in 2001 & 2003 when Angelina Jolie was in the role. Now with a new studio, action star in the form of Alicia Vikander, and a production team and director eager to bring about a series of films, it looks like they might succeed. Vikander is a very capable lead, the film borrows story elements from its own gaming history, and is a fast paced, action adventure. The fact that it is very reminiscent of other ‘Raiders’ films and glosses over plot holes seems not to matter as the Tomb Raider juggernaut gathers speed; let’s hope Lara manages to raid a few more tombs next time around.
As a 4K UHD package the set from Warner is pretty good; the native 4K image is glorious, with stunning detail, natural colouring, deep blacks and perfect highlights; while the English Dolby Atmos surround track is all encompassing and engaging. The Extras are a bit light but shouldn’t detract from the whole.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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