Review: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

lara_croft_tomb_raider_cov.jpgYear: 2003
Director: Jan de Bont
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Ciarán Hinds
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 53

Plot
Lara Croft tries to stop a megalomaniac Jonathan Reiss from releasing Pandora’s Box upon the world.

Quick Review

The problems with Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life drag it into mediocrity. The frosty, snide performance by Angelina Jolie makes it too hard to like Lara Croft. The back half of the movie suffers from too much general sloppiness, which weakens the moderately entertaining action. These two factors hurt the decent story, the fairly tight first half of the movie, and some decent acting by supporting actors.

Full Review
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is in many ways a carbon copy of the original film. Angelina Jolie is back as Lara Croft. There is much the same sense of globe-trotting adventure. If you liked the first film, you’ll like the second. If you are like me, you’ll find the second film just as luke warm as the first, for many of the same reasons.

Much like the first movie, Angelina Jolie is physically perfect for the role of Lara Croft. She looks even better in this film than in the first, and there could be no better choice from a appearance standpoint. However, much like the lara_croft_angelina_jolie_2.jpgfirst movie Jolie, plays Croft as arrogant, conceited, and cocky. I commented in my review of the first movie that it’s hard to like Croft as played by Jolie, and I felt even more so this time through. It’s hard to empathize with a main character that is so removed, moody, and demeaning.

The story, pacing, and premise of The Cradle of Life are a bit better than the first movie. The first half of the movie is actually quite tight. Scenes are connected nicely, the plot moves along quickly, and most actions are reasonably plausible. The back half of the movie suffers from serious stretching of the premise. In a couple of spots Lara’s sidekick Terry Sheridan (played by Gerard Butler of 300 fame) finds Lara in the most implausible ways. I don’t want to spoil things too much for you, but the movie makes finding someone in Africa as easy as locating your own nose. There are other places where the movie just doesn’t make sense. For example, important transactions are handled trying to pass the goods to a hovering helicopter in a tight downtown square. In another situation, lara_croft_skydive_6.jpgeveryone hikes miles into the final location of the film instead of flying in readily available helicopters. These things are silly and premise-shattering. What you end up with is a back half of the movie that fits the story around the action. The movie loses strength because of this.

The film also tries to add a romantic element by putting Lara Croft together with Terry Sheridan, who was an old boyfriend. While I applaud the film for trying some sort of character development in the movie, ultimately this aspect of the movie fails miserably. The two actors banter back and forth about trust and betrayal but it does little more than waste time, and never really goes anywhere.

The action is not particularly gripping, but for the most part it is moderately entertaining. As pointless as it was, I especially liked the hike toward the end of the movie. The visual effects here were solid and the mood was tense. Good stuff. Some of the stunts in the movie are entertaining, including a spectacular free fall from a skyscraper in Hong Kong.

In the acting department, things are decidedly mixed. As I mentioned earlier, Angelina Jolie never finds the right vibe with Lara Croft, and this is probably the greatest reason why this film never takes off. She does get some good support from the consistently solid Gerard Butler, as her sidekick Terry Sheridan. Ciarán Hinds plays the lara_croft_angelina_jolie_1.jpgmain villain Jonathan Reiss. Despite mediocre visual appeal as a villain, on the whole he does a convincing job. I liked the script in this film better than in the original, but it’s still not memorable.

As for Babes and Hunks, as much as I’m not a fan of Angelina Jolie, I have to admit she looks fine in this film. Gerard Butler makes for a handsome companion. The Babes and Hunks scores are high solely due to their role.

On a final note, the music of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life was infinitely better than the original movie, which was a cacophony. In this film, the music does a decent job of supporting the film.

In the end, however, the problems with Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life drag it into mediocrity. The poor performance by Angelina Jolie makes it too hard to like Lara Croft in the movie. The back half of the movie suffers from too much general sloppiness. These two factors hurt the decent story, the fairly tight first half of the movie, and some decent acting by supporting actors.

Fun Fact
This film was banned in China for portraying the country in a bad light.

Related Reviews
Lara Croft Tomb Raider

Score
Pace: 64
Plot: 58
Action: 64
Consistent Premise: 41
Script/Quotes: 40
Characters: 44
Acting: 52
Villain: 61
Body Count: 35
Time to First Dead Body: 11 minutes, 42 seconds
Babes: 72
Hunks: 84
Explosions: 8
Special Effects: 55
Stunts: 74
Ending: 61

Overall: 53

[tags]Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, Angelina Jolie, Lara Croft, action movie, movie review, Gerard Butler, Jan de Bont, Ciarán Hinds[/tags]

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