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DVD Review: Lara Croft – Tomb Raider

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Slick, agile, and of course sexy, Lara Croft became a video game icon. Her appearance was one of the few to break the mold set by cartoonish characters aimed directly at an adolescent audience. With the character's popularity booming, Paramount let $80 million loose for the film adaptation, and succeeded amazingly well from a financial standpoint.

Angelina Jolie in the role of heroine Lara Croft was a flawless casting call. Her attitude, charisma, and athleticism let her own the screen while capturing the qualities of the character. The added padding to her breasts to get them as accurate as possible didn't happen on accident either.

Tomb Raider is an action film, one that calls for an astounding level of disbelief. Croft is an adventurer, living for nothing other than tracking down the latest in high priced artifacts. For the amazing life and world changing items she finds, it's tough to believe she only has one true enemy.

Aside from her over-the-top and energetic fight scenes, the movie plays out straight. The right dash of comedy nicely fits within the tone, though it poorly delves into time travel without any surprise or shock from anyone, including the audience. The latter can only groan as the conclusion falls apart amidst a nice action set piece.

The high budget allows Tomb Raider to create a sheen look. Some of the computer generated effects end up flat and obvious. With the rapid pace of the editing, there is little time to dwell on these problems. Far too much energy is given to the fun choreography to care.

It's nice to see the script is allowed to expand upon the game's mythos, though they don't always mix perfectly from a story standpoint. What's important is that the character is captured, and countless video game-based movies have missed this entirely. Fans of the game will recognize Lara's agility and moves.

Tomb Raider also strays from an obvious Indiana Jones comparison. The elaborate set-ups and similar concepts are certainly in place, but you never feel as if the writers or director has purposely become "inspired." Lara is definitely her own character and can stand out against any competition.

The film does drag in spots and a few edits wouldn't have hurt. It's by no means an intelligent effort either, relying entirely on its looks rather than logic or brains. That's exactly what this is a meant to be though, a rousing summer blockbuster. You can't take a lot away from Tomb Raider when you're in that mindset.

The arrival of the film on DVD is a disappointment, entirely due to the video. This is a fuzzy transfer, filled with heavy grain and lacking in any noticeable detail. The entire picture looks washed out, and this isn't helped by light black levels. It's a fun movie to watch, just not on this DVD.

In the audio department, there's a distinct lack of bass to be found. Guns are quiet and lack the punch they should carry with them. On the other hand, the surround channels carry some stunning positional audio. Action sequences can be followed simply by listening.

Extras are wonderfully put together, including a nice look at the video game and the phenomenon it became. There are some rare early looks at the original concepts for the character in Are You Game?, which wasn't even female. A few more minutes spend here would have been appreciated. Eight minutes is hardly enough to get the full story.

A solo commentary by the director sounds empty. Anyone from the crew could have helped this along, and possibly added more detail from a different perspective. Crafting Lara is a better choice than the commentary, focusing on what Jolie needed to do in order to get in shape for the role.

Four deleted scenes would have only added to some of the rough downtime the movie suffers from and were wise cuts. Stunts of Tomb Raider is self-explanatory. Eight sequences are profiled in Visual Effects of Tomb Raider, mostly dealing with CGI.

An alternate title sequence was an interesting idea, and the title reveal was a huge success. However, it does feel overdone. A U2 music video also included on the disc features some of the footage from that unused opening. Finally, Digging into Tomb Raider is the main documentary covering all aspects of the film and the video games. Some of the content can be found in other portions of the disc though, shortening the running time from 18 to around 15 minutes total.

The large box office sum prompted a sequel in 2003 which failed to rake in the expected numbers. Jolie was quoted that she was done playing the character. Small rumors began popping up stating a third film was in the works without her, though those never came through leaving this a two part affair.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.