When Lara Croft: Tomb Raider became a major motion picture back in 2001, fans of the video game were eager to head to the theater to watch one of their favorite characters truly come to life. Though panned by critics, the movie eventually made two hundred and seventy-five million dollars worldwide, almost doubling its production budget. With a built-in audience and commercial success, Paramount Pictures was all too happy to release a sequel, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider:The Cradle of Life, hoping to once again cash in on the video game's popularity. Now, eighteen years later, Paramount has re-released the movie as part of a two-movie 4K combo pack.
When an earthquake strikes the Greek Island, Santorini, an ancient ruin, Luna Temple, is uncovered. Hidden in its depths lies a golden orb which is said to be the map to Pandora's Box. As Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie; Wanted) and her team are searching for it, they are overtaken by other treasure-seekers who steal the orb. Recognizing the importance of the orb, MI6 enlists Lara Croft to help get it back. Since the orb is in the possession of the Lo Brothers, she agrees to help MI6 on the condition that they release her former lover, Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler; Greenland) as he has knowledge of Chen Lo's (Simon Yam; PTU) illegal operation.
Learning that Lo plans to sell the orb to Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II), Lara puts a tracer on it and, when she finds it in Hong Kong, she steals it back. However, Reiss takes Lara's friends hostage and tells her he will kill them unless she takes him to the Cradle of Life. Once there, after facing trials meant to stop them, Reiss finds the box, but Lara kills him before he can open it.
Jolie once again does an impressive job as the iconic video game heroine and her banter with a very young-looking Butler is convincing. Butler holds his own against the strong leading actress. Hinds not only looks like a villain; his mannerisms and demeanor ooze a sense of evil that is believable. The rest of the cast is decent, especially during the stunts, so they don't distract from the main actors or action.
While the 4K transfer from an original 2K DI offers some sharpness and clarity not seen in previous releases, the converse can also be argued. Special effects are extremely apparent in this version and not in a good way. Within the first twenty minutes the viewer is able to see the disparity between the actors and the background. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 definitely fairs better than the video. Sound effects and the soundtrack dance amongst all the speakers, giving this release a full and robust sound. While it doesn't make up for the obvious video flaws, it helps. Probably the most disappointing aspect of this two-disc set is the lack of extras. Like the first film, the extra in this two-movie release consists only of the audio commentary by director Jan de Bont (Speed).
The departure of Simon West from the first movie isn't shocking or disappointing. While the premise and script still aren't great, de Bont does a better job of capturing the essence of the land they are going to traverse and keeps the film's pacing moving along steadily.
This two-movie combo pack is a good idea and Paramount did an above-average job with the 4K upgrade but, sadly, not even better video and audio can save these movies.