PictureConversely the image quality overall is very good, Bright, saturated colours make for a vivid presentation, both black depth and contrast are also worthy of praise. Fine detail definition, to include the darker moments, is excellent. The transfer has no issues of grain or compression and only the slightest hint of edge enhancement. Whilst not quite the last word in sharpness terms, it is a very pleasing, smooth and filmic transfer. If there is a strong point to the movie then the quality of the 2.35:1 ratio transfer is probably it.
SoundOffered with a Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kbs) soundtrack with no extended surround enhancement, this did not let any of my speakers relax for too long. It has moments of great dynamics, plenty of discrete channel information, LFE aplenty, and lots of swoops and pans etc. Yet I still found myself unsettled and irritated by it at times.
There were several instances where a prominent score moment would use either the left OR the right channel for the rhythm track, i.e. the drum loop, be it synthesised or acoustic. This I found to be instantly obvious and quite unbalancing to the soundfield. It was not related to the movie as a channel effect, purely scoring. Why this was done is a mystery to me as the majority of the score was perfectly balanced across the front speaker array.
Also I had issues with the overall level of the dialogue channel. I have never watched a recent release where I thought the dialogue was too low, although I have often read of others suffering this. On several occasions I found myself reaching for the remote to raise the level, to then be greeted by a moment exploiting maximum dynamic range. With almost 3 real kilowatts of amplification (subs included) this can be somewhat alarming to say the least.
Overall this is standard action movie fair, and I am sure it will enhance and impress those who are fans of the series.
ExtrasA goodly selection indeed for this single disc release. A full-length audio commentary by Jan De Bont, which clearly shows a passion and technical awareness that, is normally associated with intelligence. Is THIS Jan De Bont's finest work? I certainly enjoyed it.
Deleted and Alternate Scenes shows yet again the worth of the man with the scissors. Next is Featurettes, which contains five short'ish shorts: Training, Vehicles and Weapons, Stunts, Visual Effects and Scoring. All are reasonable to good and self explanatory in content.
A screen test for Gerard Butler reading the prison scene is something or nothing. Two music videos are included, one by Korn, the other by The Davey Brothers. Finally Previews offers two trailers for Paycheck (I thought the image quality was generally superb for this) and the Indiana Jones Trilogy box set DVD-ROM features are based around a large file which contains, rather than links to, the entire Tomb Raider - Cradle of Life web site. There is an awful lot of related stuff here which will no doubt please fans.
VerdictWell, for me this was simply substandard tosh. I like a good no-brainer. In fact, as is often pointed out by my contemporaries, the majority of my collection is lowbrow action orientated flicks. This was just too dumb, even for me. It is to Raiders of the Lost Ark, what The Naked Gun is to L.A Confidential. That said, image quality is superb, audio slightly less so and the extra's are both generous and informative. Is it all worth 20 pounds of your money? I doubt it.
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