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With video games being used as the premise of a number of motion pictures, it was only a matter of time before the sexiest computer generated heroine would make her big screen debut. Fortunately, the makers of LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER ($30) chose the incredibly sexy Angelina Jolie to portray the titular… er, title heroine. Like the video game that inspired it, LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER is kind of light on plot and very heavy on over-the-top action. Of course, in the case of this particular film, this isn’t a bad thing. LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER is designed to provide the audience with plenty of action, adventure and fun- and the film really delivers. LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER is a perfect popcorn movie that allows the viewer to forget about reality and lose themselves for one hundred minutes.

The plot of the movie finds adventurer Lady Lara Croft still deeply affected by the loss of her father Lord Croft (Jon Voight), who disappeared years earlier. As a planetary alignment that occurs every five thousand years draws nearer, Lara discovers a clock that her father left hidden in the manor house for her. The clock proves to be the key to discovering The Triangle of Light, an ancient artifact that has the power to control time. Of course, Lara isn’t the only one seeking The Triangle of Light and she finds herself up against a secret society known as Illuminati that wishes to control time for their own diabolical purposes. As my comments above infer, the plot of LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER only serves a springboard to propel the movie from one high-powered action sequence to the next. Director Simon West choreographs the action sequences quite well and keeps the film moving at a rapid pace. Joining Jolie and her real life father Voight on this adventure are Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, Daniel Craig, Richard Johnson and Christopher Barrie.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Not unexpectedly, LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER looks terrific on DVD. In general, the image is crisp and highly detailed, with only occasional shots appearing a little bit softer. The filmmakers have chosen a somewhat sedate palette with stronger hues being used as accents. Additionally, flesh tones are very appealing, and the colors are rendered with complete stability and no signs of noise. Blacks are very deep and the level of shadow detail is quite good. The dual layered DVD doesn’t display any noticeable traces of digital compression artifacts.

As expected, LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER has a kick-ass Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The aggressive mix effortlessly moves sound effects throughout all of the discrete channels to create an enveloping sonic experience. Dialogue is absolutely crisp and fully intelligible. The bass channel is ground shaking and completely convincing for gunfire and explosions. Music is reasonably well integrated into the mix, although it isn’t always cleanly defined due to the busyness of the soundtrack. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD’s stylishly designed interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some solid supplements. Director Simon West provides an informative and fairly entertaining running audio commentary. The DVD also features a number of featurettes and documentaries. Running twenty-five minutes is Digging Into Tomb Raider, which is a detailed program, offering more than a standard PR piece. Crafting Lara Croft looks at the preparations that Angelina Jolie took to prepare for the physically taxing role. The Stunts of Tomb Raider looks at the film’s extensive stunt work. As the title implies The Visual Effects of Tomb Raider shows how the film’s impressive visuals are achieved. Are You Game? is concerned with the Tomb Raider video game phenomenon. Four deleted scenes, an alternate title sequence and a music video for U2’s Elevation close out the video supplements. LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER is also DVD-ROM enabled offering a number of features on the PC side. Tomb Raider Timeline offers the chronology of the Lara Croft character. A Tomb Raider Chronicles game demo is also provided, as is the theatrical web site and special online features created for the DVD.  The online features include an “interactive challenge” that allows the viewer to participate in multiple contests of skill and general trivia, which are directly keyed into what Lara Croft is experiencing on screen.

LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER is an enjoyable action movie adapted from the popular game series. The movie has a terrific eye candy quality that the DVD reproduces flawlessly. Combining excellent video and audio quality with solid supplements, LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER is a DVD worth adding to any action movie collection.


Lara Croft - Tomb Raider


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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