Tomb Raider

While the role was once synonymous with Angelina Jolie, this Tomb Raider reboot features instead Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl). The first trailer, put together by Really Slow Motion sets a resolutely no-frills tone that establishes the kind of ebb and flow of unrelenting action and concise dialogue that one might expect of the final film.

Right away, we are in the midst of action, with Croft running through an unknown forest and a firm establishing bass tone and pulsing synth reflect the action. It is revealed at 0:06 that the offscreen voice is from the next scene, wherein we find Croft checking in at what looks like a hotel of her namesake. Already, through the use of this sound bridge, the audioviewer is privy to both sides of Lara’s life – as heir of fortune, and as lone adventurer. 

After a quick series of shots (with accompanying beats) returning to Croft-as-explorer, we already get the studio title card at 0:12, all four studios sharing a single card, their logos bathed in a bloody red hue. After this, a more established, pulsing bass pattern begins in earnest, with flashbacks providing a bit more exposition regarding Lara’s deceased father and his mysterious past.

At 0:22 we get the first of what will be many repetitions of a thematic riff of the subtonic to the tonic (the home note). The riff serves a similar purpose to any hit sound effect, albeit this variation has a rhythmic upbeat. This riff serves to synchronize the visual narrative throughout the trailer. At 0:26 we hear it again, in sync with the turning on of lights in Lara’s father’s secret study. Key lines of dialogue are subsequently punctuated with the aforementioned riff, such as at 0:32 when Lara’s father (through a pre-recorded video) says “If you’re listening to this, then I must be dead,” punctuating that final word. A gradually rising tone in the background complements this sense of foreboding as footage of Lara listening to her father in interspersed with various action shots.

At 0:45 the riff introduces the title card for the date (“next year,”) and then the footage of a book hitting the desk at 0:47. At this point, it returns at a rate of twice per bar, whereas it was only once before.

At about the halfway mark, the trailer editors may have sensed that the audioviewer might come to expect this riff, so the introduction of a storm scene shakes things up, instead focusing on smooth, suspenseful tones, and sharply cutting to silence at several points: at 1:02 (with a black screen to accompany it), at 1:04 (another black screen), and once more at 1:08, which features instead an epic jump made by Lara into the stormy sea – only to cut to silence and black one more time, at 1:10. One could reasonably argue that this is too much starting and stopping to be dramatically effective – on the other hand, this might be entirely the point, in order to keep the audioviewer truly guessing. 

For the last third of this two minute trailer, we get a montage of tag-line title cards and action shots, spelling out word by word “her legend begins.” The thematic riff returns with these title cards as well. At 1:37 we hear the de-rigueur “power down” sound, and after a literal cliff-hanger, Alicia Vikander’s title card arrives. Interestingly, the last thing we hear before the main title card is her yelp as she makes a leap of faith, foregrounding the fact that this film will follow her struggles. 

At 1:52, a small “post title” scene follows, offering a small comedic twist and a bit of the trademark attitude that series fans know Lara Croft for. Unsurprisingly, but fittingly, the last title card (announcing the date, March 2018) offers that thematic riff one more time. 

The riff plays about twenty-two times throughout the two-minute trailer – and while that might be a bit much for some, repetition can definitely make for a memorable experience.

 - Curtis Perry