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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Lara Croft Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Nov 9, 2003.

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  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    Lara Croft Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life

    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 2003

    Rated: PG-13

    Length: 117 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic (also available fullscreen)

    Audio: DD 5.1 English, DD 5.1 French

    English Subtitles

    Commentary, 5 featurettes, 6 deleted scenes, 1 alternate ending, 2 Music videos, Web link, Previews

    1 DVD-9

    M.A.P. $19.95 USD


    Release Date: November 18, 2003




    The Cradle of Life is the return of video game heroine, archeologist, adventurer Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) to the big screen in a typically brainless, stunt and effects-filled action flick. This is purely a popcorn flick - with plenty of eye candy, and holes in plot and logic that you could drive a truck through.

    Lara Croft is Indiana Jones Lite. A globe-trotting archeologist with far less reverence to the science than Jones, but with enough money to have her own collection of James Bond gadgetry. Taking elements from both series, you’d hope the Lara Croft films would have a lot going for them, but instead, they come off as ultimately formulaic, as you might expect.

    The story finds Lara Croft racing against a bio-terrorist to find Pandora’s Box. If the box is opened, it will spell certain doom for millions of people - and apparently, the bad guy has some sort of innoculant. Of course, we travel around the globe during the course of the race, from Greece, to England, then to China and Africa. Lots of great set pieces, scenery, stunts and fight scenes - it’s exciting to watch, but it’s ultimately forgettable. If you enjoyed the first Lara Croft, this one is at least as good - and it is similarly lacking, as well.

    The Video
    The anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 picture is bright, and is dominated by a warm and deeply saturated palette. Blacks often come across as dark brown, but shadow detail is very good. Contrast varies, slightly lacking in some scenes but very good in others. It’s very sharp, with no signs of edge enhancement. Grain is virtually absent, and the print is free of dust. There has been a lot of digital grading to the print, and I wonder if it might be responsible for the warm tints and the brownish blacks. Having not seen the film in theaters, I can’t be sure if its the grading or the transfer. Overall, this is a very good transfer, if a bit on the warm side.

    The Audio
    The Cradle of Life is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. It is a very active mix, with dialog panning across the front soundstage when appropriate. Sound effects fill the room in the action sequences. LFE is quite powerful, delivering a window-shaking experience. Dialog is clean and intelligible, with an exception being one of the actor’s Scottish accents... certainly not a fault of the mix. The score occasionally delivers too much driving bass when it isn’t really called for. I don’t really mind this sort of thing during action sequences, but I find it annoying during transitory and expository scenes. This, of course, is my personal preference... overall, it’s an impressive surround mix with a three dimensional feel to it that adds to the excitement, without being gimmicky or overdone.



    Special Features
    Commentary by director Jan De Bont

    Jan De Bont was a cinematographer long before he was a director, and that fact comes through in his commentary. His work as a cinematographer includes such stylistic pieces as Black Rain and Flatliners, as well as more popular fare such as The Hunt for Red October and Lethal Weapon. He speaks volumes about photographic technique, which I always find interesting. He also talks about the CGI work on the film, the stunts, and the sound design. De Bont is enthusiastic throughout, and I found this commentary to be above average.

    Deleted / Alternate Scenes
    British Embassy, Nairobi
    Lara Rescued by Submarine
    MI6 to Croft Manor
    Lara Enters Prison
    Terry and Lara Driving
    Mah Jong
    Alternate Ending

    Most of these scenes are simple character development and were cut either for pacing reasons, or because they gave away too much of future plot events. While it is nice to see the characters develop, since this is an action film, the pacing takes precedence. The scenes are not anamorphically enhanced, and are typically of poorer quality than the feature. There is a “Play All” feature, and the scenes can be viewed with or without commentary by director De Bont.

    Featurettes
    The Featurettes are fullscreen format.
    Training (08:54)
    Angelina Jolie does much of her own stunt work and many of her own fight scenes. Many sequences were written specifically with this in mind. This short featurette documents the training required to prepare for these scenes.
    Vehicles and Weapons (04:28)
    Most of the vehicles and weapons needed to be modified from their stock form to accommodate the special needs of the stunt work. We see this process in this short featurette.
    Stunts (10:53)
    Jolie complained that the first Tomb Raider film was too easy for her, so they upped the ante on the second film. Some of the more elaborate stunts are explored in this piece, including the flying suit sequence.
    Visual Effects (11:25)
    Some of the underwater scenes were shot “dry for wet,” where lighting effects, wire work and CGI are combined to create an underwater environment. CGI effects were used for a shark sequence, as well (not as convincing as the model work in Jaws). CGI effects played a part in above water scenes, as well, including a small “plane” crash, and the “Shadow Guardians.” An elaborate “petrified forest” was built on a stage for the climactic scenes.
    Scoring (4:44)
    An interview with composer Alan Silvestri, along with footage of recording sessions in England.

    Gerard Butler’s Screen Test (03:59)

    Music Videos
    Korn “Did My Time”
    The Davey Brothers “Heart Go Faster”

    Original Theatrical Web Site Archive

    Previews

    Paycheck
    The Adventures of Indiana Jones


    Final Thoughts
    If you haven’t seen this film, but you’ve seen the first, use that as your guide. This is more of the same - a formulaic action flick. I think I liked it a bit better than the first, but they are comparable films.

    The video transfer is well done, but perhaps a bit warm for my taste. The DD 5.1 mix is pretty impressive. There is a jarring break at the layer change (48:48), but other than that, there is not a lot to complain about with this DVD.
     
  2. Joel C

    Joel C Well-Known Member

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    Ah yes, another Paramount disc without the feature trailer. Good thing that Indiana Jones commercal made it on there.
     
  3. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the review, Scott.

    I'll be picking this one up... Tomb Raider is one of my guilty pleasures. [​IMG]
     
  4. Donnie Eldridge

    Donnie Eldridge Well-Known Member

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    I'll be picking this one up, too!!!!!!!!
     
  5. Matt Wooten

    Matt Wooten Well-Known Member

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    picked this up today and i was quite pleased with it as well. only gripe is with the lack of a trailer... but i'm used to that seeing as how the fist one didn't have one either. [​IMG]
     
  6. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Well-Known Member

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    Yeah this is my "guilty pleasure" as well.However I disagree with the bass/lfe pressence,it was just as lacking as the first movie,but then again I'm not that easy to be "pleased" when it comes to bass.[​IMG]
     
  7. WayneG

    WayneG Well-Known Member

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    SPOILERS: I enjoyed the stunts and the locales, but the plot left me completely baffled. Why doesn't she just destroy the orb? Why does she go to Africa knowing that the bad guys are on her tail? She obviously doesn't have any plans to take the box so why go there in the first place? Also, the power of the box is vague. They tell us but never show us. Major mistake. In Raiders, we get to see the Ark opened and its power, but here they've boxed (!) themselves into a corner and thus we never get to see it opened or its power. This is a major failing and contradicts basic screenwriting.

    I too found the constant pounding bass, even in quiet scenes, annoying. I did enjoy learning how they did the underwater scenes. Very clever and much better than real water. I've actually been to that mall (Times Square) in Hong Kong so it was kind of cool learning about the nefarious goings-on that go on behind renovation signs!

    Also - pretty impressive home theatre that family on the boat had!
     
  8. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Well-Known Member

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    I just picked this up tonight. I have not seen it yet but really, really enjoyed the first one and the general concensus is that this is pretty much the same maybe with better special effects and action scened than the original.

     
  9. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Well-Known Member

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    i conked out about 30 minutes into this last night.
    no real fault of the movie, just really tired.
    the transfer to this one looks much better to me than the last film , but i've upgraded my display since, with a better scaler so i don't know how much of a factor that is.
    i think i ebayed the first movie immediately after watching it once.
    i'll probably hang onto this one a little while.

    the movie itself looks like it might be pretty fun ( i hated the last), but its disappointng to see just how closely they are ripping off Raiders ( almost beat for beat in the early expositional scenes).
    i'm still looking forward to finishing this tonight though.


    and yeah, she looks amazing in that silver diving suit.
     
  10. Mitch Stevens

    Mitch Stevens Well-Known Member

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    I am a huge fan of the first film. Have seen it well over 10 times now. Didn't get to see this film in theaters, but read reviews that it was better than the first.

    Needless to say, I bought it sight-unseen. I finally got around to watching it today and I absolutely hated it. It was so long and boring. It didn't have the excitement that the first one had. A total waste of time and money.

     
  11. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Well-Known Member

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  12. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Well-Known Member

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  13. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Well-Known Member

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    finished it last night.
    i have to concur with most reviews i read around the web when the film was first released- a smidgen better than the first, but still pretty blah.
    and the more i think about it, the more disappointed i am.
    its clear that Jolie is game and is giving 110% but the story when its not being tediously derivative, is just bland.
    no juice, no life, no soul.
    no reason on earth you can't take a 1 dimensional concept like the video game, and get someone with an imagination to trip off it with something truly unique and fun.
    if anything, it seems like the last 4 Bond movies.

    looks like i will be ebaying this one soon after all.
     
  14. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Well-Known Member

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  15. EnricoE

    EnricoE Well-Known Member

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    i got today my tomb raider 2 dvd and it's unplayable because there is a very ugly spot on the disc which looks like someone put hairspray on it [​IMG] this spot can't be removed without damaging the disc itself. i've heard from other people that they have the same problem so it comes to a factory problem.

    does anybody else have this problem here?
     
  16. Chris Rein

    Chris Rein Well-Known Member

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    Well, a little late chiming in here. I have a STACK of DVDs that need watching (now that my dedicated theater is almost complete!) and this was spun this evening.

    I'm glad someone talked about the pillars in the opening sequence. They were falling, I was expecting "BOOM" but all I got was sloppy score bass all over the action sequence. There were times in the movie the mix seemed "off" were action sequences felt "muffled", but overall it wasn't bad.

    I had THX Ultra 2 Cinema engaged and one sequence of coolness stuck out. When they got surrounded by the bad guys, the cocking of the guns completely surrounded us. Very cool, and it was a good check of my setup.

    I liked the first one better the more I think about it. The shark bit at the beginning bugged me as did the herky-jerky slow motion crap that Jan used in the film. [​IMG]
     
  17. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Well-Known Member

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    Excellent review Scott....right on the money!

    As for the film itself, this sums it up quite well:

     
  18. Jonty Rees

    Jonty Rees Well-Known Member

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    I can generally watch these movies, usually with my 8 and 6yr old kids, but this one tried even my patience. Baffling storyline, huge plot holes, no realistic motivation for the characters, poor special effects, not even much skin! Put it this way - we all preferred The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and that one won't be taking home any awards.
     

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