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5 items from 2003


Lara Croft: Cradle of Life

8 August 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Opens

Friday, July 25

Acting with the vigor and panache of early James Bond, only with that interesting gender reversal, Lara Croft takes on marine archeology, a skyscraper jump, insidious bad guys and almost-as-dangerous "good" guys in this second chapter of the direct-from-video-games heroine. This sequel's first two acts blitz you gently -- a pleasing mix of sharply defined characters, exotic scenery and teasing hints of Angelina Jolie's sculpted body encased in a series of clinging costumes. Then a nonsensical third act, where the writers essentially give up and turn the movie over to digital effects artists, diminishes the good feeling created by "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life."

Probably enough goodwill has been built up in the early sections that most viewers will not take offense when the movie abandons its plot and characters. It appears headed for strong boxoffice as production values outstrip the original.

The writers -- Dean Georgaris wrote the script from a story by Steven E. De Souza and James V. Hart -- appear to have charted this opus on a Web site featuring the world's most exotic locations. The story opens on the Greek isle of Santorini, where an earthquake reveals the possible existence of an underwater temple, where Alexander May have hidden a map, an ancient hologram, that will lead its discoverer to Pandora Box,'s the mythical container of all that is evil.

While Lara (Jolie) powers her underwater jet to the temple, evil Dr. Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds), composed of body parts and membrane from a host of movie villains which Austin Powers should have already kidded to death, mysteriously knows about the temple. So he sends a group of Chinese bandits, all remarkably adept at deep sea diving (what are the odds on that, do you think?), to intercept her scientific research and steal the anti-treasure map.

This theft leads Lara and an ex-lover, renegade British agent Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), on a jet-set itinerary that includes England, Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, the Great Wall of China and Kenya. For a while, the movie swims in favorable currents. Each escapade is at least plausible, including a magnificent stunt-effects sequence that involves the destruction of the underwater temple. Best of all, Lara and Terry's escapes rely more on their wits than gadgets. (OK, there are gadgets, but no more than in a Bond movie a quarter-century ago.)

A couple of things might bother you, though. Why does Jolie choose to play Lara as perennially pissed off? Jolie is angry at everything and everyone. Then there is one's curious detachment from all the characters. Both villains and heroes are a particularly unsavory lot, filled with cynicism and misanthropy. Seemingly, the only reason to root for Lara and Terry is their more appealing body types.

Then Lara parachutes into Africa. The first enormous plot hole is that she has no reason to be there. She has already stolen back Alexander's map in Hong Kong, which ostensibly is her purpose in the scenario. And since Dr. Reiss has no way to know where the evil treasure is, why does she take the chance of unwittingly leading the doctor to Pandora Box.'s Archeological curiosity?

Well, she arrives in Kenya along with out-of-nowhere armies and the rest of the cast for a CGI clambake in which trees turn into carnivorous monsters and Lara and Dr. Reiss must battle for the box. Which brings up another point: Why does Lara, seen dispatching Chinese warlords and their armies with her martial arts, need several minutes to fight a character played by a middle-aged actor who is clearly not in shape?

Jan De Bont, a director who historically pays no attention to story logic, plunges ahead anyway, staging smooth stunts, creating mild sexual tensions between Lara and Terry and capturing picturesque vistas on three continents. The technical efforts are superb, more than enough to hold together a popcorn movie. But the apparent need for a socko ending at all costs undermines an otherwise smart action adventure.

LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE

Paramount Pictures

In association with Mutual Film Co. & BBC Tele-Munchen Toho-Towa presents a Lawrence Gordon/Lloyd Levin production in association with Eidos Interactive Ltd.

Credits:

Director: Jan De Bont

Screenwriter: Dean Georgaris

Story by: Steven E. De Souza, James V. Hart

Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin

Executive producer: Jeremy Heath-Smith

Director of photography: David Tattersall

Production designer: Kirk M. Petruccelli

Music: Alan Silvestri

Co-producer: Louis A. Stroller

Costume designer: Lindy Hemming

Editor: Michael Kahn

Cast:

Lara Croft: Angelina Jolie

Terry Sheridan: Gerard Butler

Bryce: Noah Taylor

Jonathan Reiss: Ciaran Hinds

Kosa: Djimon Hounsou

Sean: Til Schweiger

Hillary: Christopher Barrie

Chen Lo: Simon Yam

Running time -- 117 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13 »

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Morris picks up 'Paycheck' from Par/D'Works job

29 April 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Kathryn Morris has nabbed a role in Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures' Paycheck for helmer John Woo. Shooting is under way in Vancouver. Morris (Minority Report) joins Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Aaron Eckhart and Michael C. Hall in the Dean Georgaris-penned project. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, Paycheck is a futuristic tale centering on a man (Affleck) who has part of his memory erased by his employer and begins to find clues to his whereabouts for the past two years. Morris is set to play Rita Dunne, a co-worker of Affleck's character. John Davis, Michael Hackett and David Solomon are producing Paycheck. The project reteams Morris with Woo, who directed her in his BMW Films short Hostage. The actress, who next appears in the Dimension thriller Mindhunters opposite Val Kilmer, Christian Slater and LL Cool J, is repped by Endeavor, Mosaic Media Group's Dave Fleming and attorney Jason Sloan. She also recently filmed the lead role in Jerry Bruckheimer and Meredith Stiehm's drama pilot The Unsolved for CBS from Warner Bros. Television, Jerry Bruckheimer TV and CBS Prods. »

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'Under' star Hall gets 'Paycheck' with Par, Affleck

19 March 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Six Feet Under star Michael C. Hall will star opposite Ben Affleck in Paramount Pictures' Paycheck for director John Woo and producers John Davis and Michael Hackett. The project aims to go into production next month. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, Paycheck is a futuristic tale centering on Jennings (Affleck), a man who has part of his memory erased by his employer and begins to find clues to his whereabouts for the past two years. Hall will play the lead FBI agent who is spearheading the investigation on Jennings' memory. Aaron Eckhart also stars as Rethrick, the man who persuades Jennings to give up two years of his life, thus setting in motion a whirlwind of chaos. Dean Georgaris adapted the screenplay. Hall is repped by Innovative Artists, MJ Management and attorney Jodie Peikoff. Since landing the role of a gay funeral home director on HBO's Six Feet Under, Hall has garnered Emmy, Golden Globe and American Film Institute nominations for the role. The actor began his career on Broadway, having most recently performed in the musical Chicago. »

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Par, C/W call Carnahan for 'M:I-3' duty

26 February 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Narc director Joe Carnahan is in final negotiations to helm Paramount Pictures and Cruise/Wagner Prods.' third installment of their Mission: Impossible franchise. Dean Georgaris, who wrote the studio's upcoming Lara Croft and the Cradle of Life: Tomb Raider 2, is in negotiations to script M:I-3. The franchise's original screenwriter, Robert Towne, remains on board. Paramount is eyeing a summer 2004 release date for the film. M:I-3 reunites Carnahan with the studio and the production company as it was Cruise/Wagner that urged Paramount to pick up for distribution Carnahan's critically acclaimed feature film Narc. Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise also had executive producing credits on the project. »

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Par, C/W call Carnahan for 'M:I-3' duty

26 February 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Narc director Joe Carnahan is in final negotiations to helm Paramount Pictures and Cruise/Wagner Prods.' third installment of their Mission: Impossible franchise. Dean Georgaris, who wrote the studio's upcoming Lara Croft and the Cradle of Life: Tomb Raider 2, is in negotiations to script M:I-3. The franchise's original screenwriter, Robert Towne, remains on board. Paramount is eyeing a summer 2004 release date for the film. M:I-3 reunites Carnahan with the studio and the production company as it was Cruise/Wagner that urged Paramount to pick up for distribution Carnahan's critically acclaimed feature film Narc. Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise also had executive producing credits on the project. »

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5 items from 2003


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