Tomb Raider

Music Composed By: Junkie XL

Distributed by: Sony Masterworks

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                I have been a fan of Tomb Raider ever since the video game first came out in 2001.  I played every incarnation I could get my hands on until they decided to reboot the series in 2013.  I havenít had the opportunity to play that version of Tomb Raider which gives Lara Croft a new origin story.  This latest Tomb Raider movie (you may remember a couple of Tomb Raider films starring Angelina Jolie back in the day) is actually based on the rebooted Tomb Raider game series.  It stars Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, a young woman who reluctantly claims her inheritance after her father, Richard Croft (Domenic West), disappears, in an effort to keep the estate from being sold off.  It is at the estate that she discovers a pre-recorded message detailing his research and, despite his warnings to destroy the research, Lara decides to use it to find her missing father.  This self-imposed mission takes her on an adventure she never could have expected.

                The musical score of Tomb Raider was created by Junkie XL, otherwise known as Dutch composer, multi-instrumentalist, DJ, producer and engineer Tom Holkenborg.  A classically trained musician who learned the piano at four years of age, the drums by eight, the guitar by twelve and the bass by fourteen, Holkenborg was involved in performing and producing music from the 1980s through the early 1990s.  It wasnít until the mid-90s that Holkenborg began composing music for video games and film.  He began this foray working with well-known composers, such as Harry Gregson-Williams (Kingdom of Heaven), Klaus Badlet (Catwoman) and Hans Zimmer (Inception, Megamind, Dark Knight Rises).  Solo composing credits include Divergent, Mad Max: Fury Road, Deadpool, Black Mass, 300: Rise of an Empire and The Dark Tower.

                The Tomb Raider Soundtrack contains some very lengthy orchestral tracks.  Action scenes contain blasts of horns and percussion with some sound manipulation or electronic sound.  Gentler tracks contain light piano accompanied by a full orchestra.  But these light tracks donít always stay light.  Becoming the Tomb Raider, for example, moves from gentle to grim determination with the music rising in crescendo and featuring ominous horns, screechy violins and percussion mixed in. 

The score created by Junkie XL makes me wonder if he has ever played the video games upon which the film was based.  I donít know about the newer games, but the older ones featured quiet moments when you were entering a new level or in segments of the game where stealth was required and fast moving, adrenaline-pumping music when fight or action scenes were involved.  This score reminds me of the music I listened to while playing the older Tomb Raider series of games and thus, I found myself smiling as I listened to the Tomb Raider Soundtrack.  If the movieís creators sought to follow the video game format as closely as possible, I have no doubt that Junkie XLís score is the perfect accompaniment for that film.  It certainly makes for an interesting listen for someone who hasnít seen the film.


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