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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Additional footage - Alternate Main Title sequence
  • 4 Deleted scenes
  • Audio commentary - Director Simon West
  • Featurette - Crafting Lara Croft, The Stunts Of Tomb Raider, Visual Effects Of Tomb Raider, Are You Game?
  • Music video - Elevation (Tomb Raider mix) - U2
  • 4 DVD-ROM features - Tomb Raider Timeline, Tomb Raider Chronicles game demo, Web site archive, Access to the online experience
  • Interviews - Digging Into Tomb Raider

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Paramount/Paramount . R4 . COLOR . 96 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

What do Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Final Fantasy and, erm, Super Mario Bros all have in common? Yes, of course, they all started their lives as computer games then later ended up being made into films and, naturally, they were all pretty much entirely crap.

Needless to say Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is also based on a computer game – complete with its star (as you would no doubt assume from the title), a grrl with ‘tude to burn named Lara Croft. The typical geekdweebnerdydorkboy wet dream fantasy imagining of a woman (for how many of these pallid creatures have ever been away from their screens long enough to interact with a real female – well, other than their Mum?), she’s just what you’d imagine such a sun-deprived organism to concoct. Breasty-bits that make Pammy Anderson look like a relief map of the Simpson Desert, a waist that once sighted would have Barbie inconsolably enrolling in Weight Watchers and, of course, she totes a gun and “kicks serious ass”. For that’s what all of us real women are like, right girls?

Anyway, in the movie be-tattooed goddess Angelina Jolie takes on the unenviable task of turning Lara into a living and breathing 3D person, and seemingly the great weight of expectation from millions of the aforementioned geekdweebnerdydorkboys as to what will be done with the gal they all harbour such intense feelings of devotion towards. Speaking of the movie, which is what we normally do in reviews such as this, for those interested in what semblance of a plot is actually on offer, try this on for size (DD for instance)...

Lara battles a long-lost relative of ED-209, blahblahblah. Lara misses her dead daddy, but at least she inherited a gobsmackingly humongous mansion along with servants and grounds expansive enough to make any real estate developer slaver, blahblahblah. In a rare cosmic ballet type thingy the planets are set to line-up, leading to the discovery of a plot by bad guys known as the Illuminati to control time, blahblahblah. Lara kicks seven shades of shite out of their butts and saves humankind, blahblahblah. Oh, and she also raids a few tombs, of course. Blahblahblah.

"Now, time to save the universe again then, is it?”
“Absolutely. "

While Angelina does a remarkably entertaining job as Lara, she is more than ably assisted by those around her. Her butler, Hillary, is nicely underplayed by somebody who will be familiar to fans of Red Dwarf, Chris Barrie (one Arnold Rimmer, natch), her personal Q-ish (as in 007, not Star Trek – we’re not getting THAT nerdy here!) geekboy pet Bryce sees another unique and rollickingly great performance from local boy Noah Taylor, and even her daddy, Jon Voight, gets a gig – playing her dead Daddy. He gets a bit more to do than just lie in a state of perennial un-livingness though, with occasional appearances in dream and flashback sequences. Oh, and the cartoonish bad guys, in particular Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) and Alex West (Daniel Craig), do a pretty good job as far as being cartoonish bad guys goes, too – which is always a good thing.

And “cartoonish’ is the operative word here – after all, when all is said and done this is based on a video game – it certainly isn’t Shakespeare, which is something to be thankful for.

  Video
Contract

It’s easy to sum this one up – in all its anamorphic 2.35:1-ness, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider looks absolutely yummy.

If you must know more, there is nary a blemish to be seen throughout – no speckles, no aliasing nor any shimmer – not even any pixelisation in honour of the computer game. Everything is delightfully clear and detailed, the various colours of the varied locations all come up wonderfully and shadow detail is superb – especially as there are a lot of shadowy scenes. It may be a dual layered disc, however pleasingly there’s no layer change within the movie, as it would appear that the hefty array of extras takes up the other layer in its entirety. Very, very nice all round.

  Audio
Contract

An impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is served up to us, offering the surrounds some great opportunities to prove their mettle and delivering a wonderful cinematic experience. Effects and music whiz about the room and the subwoofwoof gets to have a whale of a time thudding away merrily. Synch is absolutely spot-on, and dialogue is generally easy to understand, despite the booming doof-laden soundtrack.

Ah, the soundtrack. Added to Graeme Revell’s perfectly suited score work is a plethora of tracks from an absolute who’s-who of modern-day dance wizards. Fluke, Outkast, Delerium, Fatboy Slim, Leftfield, NIN, Moby, Groove Armada, Basement Jaxx, The Chemical Brothers – you name’em and they’re probably here. Oh, and there’s a pretty darned cool U2 song in there as well...

  Extras
Contract

After a short introductory animation, subtly animated menus appear, seemingly based on the clock doohickie from the film. A boffin somewhere went into overdrive for the computer-rendered animated transitions between selections from the main menu, although they so tend to become annoyingly tedious rather quickly. Anyway, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider boasts quite a selection of extras to wade through, in order of appearance they are...

Featurette - Crafting Lara Croft: Just under seven minutes in length, this concentrates on the training that Angie went through to get buff enough to do her Lara thang.

Commentary – Director Simon West: Quite an interesting little commentary this one – with West eschewing that nasty habit so many have of describing what’s happening on-screen in favour of letting us into information behind the scenes of what’s happening on-screen. It does tend to be a little gappy at times; however the wealth of inside goss that’s delivered makes it well worth tuning into.

DVD ROM features: If you have a PC that’s DVD-ROM equipped, buckle up for tonnes more bonus goodies. If you’re not so equipped, such as a certain reviewer I could name, you’ll just have to make do with hearing that there are four sections included. Tomb Raider timeline is apparently a simple family tree kind of thing looking at the multi-media assault carried out by a certain super-busty computer game heroine; Tomb Raider Chronicles game demo - well, that one’s kind of obvious; Access to the online experience is apparently more then just crappy old web links as the name suggests, allowing access to a special online game when you have your DVD firmly inserted into your drive. The final section is the Website Archive, which I am reliably informed contains a veritable wealth of information including a pile of interviews, more behind the scenes peeks, interactive maps of some locations, a stills gallery, soundtrack details, links to fan b sites around the globe plus screensavers and other desktop kind of stuff.

Deleted scenes: Four in all, totalling around seven minutes in screen time. Don’t expect the quality of the main feature and you shouldn’t be disappointed, as while not necessary in the big “plot” scheme of things, these snips do offer a little more of a glimpse into some of the characters.

Featurette - Stunts: Almost nine and a half minutes in length, obviously this highlights some of the stunt work in the film. More specifically we get a look at the setting up and execution of many of the often incredible feats accomplished, and also learn how Ange did most of them herself.

Featurette - Digging Into Tomb Raider: With a running time around 25 minutes, this is the beefiest of the many featurettes included. Containing a wealth of background information (including a few snippets from some of the other extras) combined with interviews with most of the cast members, as much as it comes across in a typical EPK stylee it tends to pack a more informative and entertaining punch than many similar such outings.

Music Video - Elevation - U2: Just under four minutes of Bono and band mates freeze-framing, farting around and generally doing the hanger-on thing, accompanied by a rather fab remix done especially for the film. It’s certainly more entertaining than many modern day clips, and well worth a look-see.

Featurette - Are You Game?: An eight-minute piece concentrating on the film’s inspiration – the phenomenon that is/was Tomb Raider the computer game. Phwoar, check out the pixels on her!

Alternative main title: A CGI-fest that doesn’t work nearly as well as the final choice, but nevertheless an interesting inclusion (in other words, keep giving us this type of stuff as extras, we love it!)

Featurette - Visual effects: Another entertaining twenty minutes, delving into how the amazing CGI work for seven scenes from the film, and one that didn’t end up making the final cut, was created.

Booklet: It’s only really a folded colour sheet listing features and chapters, however such things seem increasingly rarer nowadays so, much as the tile of chapter 12 suggests, it’s ‘A Nice Change’ to get one.

Easter egg: An interview with Angelina and her daddy that lasts just over two minutes. It isn’t hard to find, however if you’re stumped you could always pop by our Easter eggs section and check out instructions on how to discover it there.

  Overall  
Contract

Much as the game character of Lara tends to redefine the hyphenated word ‘over-exaggeration’, so does this movie. It’s absolutely preposterous at times, has a tendency to go way over the top and has a few holes you couldn’t sew up even if you had a circus tent handy – in other words it has all the hallmarks of an incredibly entertaining, no-brains fantasy-based BDAF. The transfer is quite superb in both the audio and video departments and there’s an absolute wealth of bonus goodies to play with, making Lara Croft: Tomb Raider on DVD fantastic value for either fans of the butt-kicking lass, or anybody after a good fun session of escapist amusement. As much as it owes debts it isn’t an Indiana Jones or even The Mummy, however for what it’s worth it is possibly the best video game to movie crossover thus far, and isn’t the highest grossing action film with a female lead simply due to a spotty nerdboy following.

Meanwhile, we await Tetris – The Movie with bated breath. I hear Jeff Goldblum has been signed on to play the square block...


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      And I quote...
    "This certainly isn’t Shakespeare, which is something to be thankful for..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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