Under the Radar

Home Video: Original 'Tomb Raider' Movies


Let's go all the way back to the ancient times of 2001 when Angelina Jolie was going to be a big mainstream movie star and conventional wisdom said that a woman couldn't carry the lead in an action movie.

"Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" was a huge gamble for its time and was widely recognized as the first movie based on a video game that wasn't terrible. It's been reissued on a 4k Ultra HD combo pack (with Blu-ray and Digital HD) alongside its 2004 sequel Lara Croft: The Cradle of Life" in advance of the new "Tomb Raider" reboot starring Alicia Vikander.

The first thing you notice is how much more weight and muscle Jolie had back then. The second thing you notice is how incredibly tiny she is and how unlikely it would be that she'd be able to generate the kind of force needed to take down all the big guys whose asses she kicks. We've gotten used to seeing Charlize Theron in "Atomic Blonde" and Jennifer Lawrence in the Hunger Games movies and "Red Sparrow." They both convey a strength and menace that Angelina Jolie just doesn't have. And, yet, the success of her Tomb Raider movies are what made all our contemporary action movies starring women possible. 

"Tomb Raider" was directed by Simon West back when he was on a hot streak that included "Con Air" and "The General's Daughter." Noted cinematographer/director Jan de Bont ("Speed") took over for "Cradle of Life." The first movie clocks in at just over 90 minutes with none of the ponderous universe-building that weighs down almost every single action picture we're doomed to see these days. It's fun to watch to a 90s-style action movie that doesn't go too deep into the archeological mysticism that a story like this invites.

"Cradle of Life" launched the career of Gerard Butler and is widely considered the better movie, even if it didn't generate as much box office. And, yet, with the perspective of 15 years, "Cradle" is the one that bogs down with the aforementioned mythical nonsense.

4K fans should know that this doesn't look like a new remaster and might even be an upscaled version of the original Blu-ray. They're reasonably priced, though, so you can add them to your library for the price of a Blu-ray if you don't already own them.

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