Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) Poster

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Why do so many people hate this movie?
23skidoo-428 December 2003
Although Cradle of Life won't go down in movie history as an all-time classic, I am mystified at why so many critics and moviegoers hated it.

In my opinion, this movie is much better than the first Tomb Raider film. The first film was entertaining, make no mistake, but it still had too much of a comic book feel and 'Angelina Jolie' (qv) had not yet gotten a firm grasp of the Lara Croft role. In Cradle of Life, both Lara and Jolie show newfound maturation, and this makes her (both actress and fictional character) much more interesting to watch. Heck, even Jolie's faux British accent is more convincing the second time around. I was one of the many who protested when she was cast in the role; the first film left be unconvinced, but she finally won me over in her second outing.

The story is also more interesting in the second film, with the whole Pandora's Box angle being something more worthy of Tomb Raider than the tired old "conspiracy out to take over the world" plot of the first film.

There are some aspects of the second film that I didn't care for as much. Lara, for one thing, is far more deadlier this second time around and at one point seriously considers gunning down a man in cold blood. This type of behavior is more fitting for James Bond than Lady Lara Croft. But once I got used to the idea of Lara Croft 007, I didn't mind it so much. (Indeed, if Hollywood ever follows through with it's long-threatened female Bond film, they could do far worse than get Angelina Jolie for the role of Jane(?) Bond.)

What appealed to me in Cradle of Life is how familiar Lara, her background, and her supporting characters have become with only one previous film under their belts. No time is spent explaining who she is and why she lives in such a huge mansion (which sadly appears only briefly). This level of familiarity, of character comfort, is something I've only ever seen once before -- in the Bond series.

Cradle of Life also features some most impressive set pieces that may not necessarily advance the story, but are great to watch, such as a zoom in from outer space on Lara riding a motorcycle, an incredible zoom-in shot THROUGH the window of Croft Manor, and a great scene of Lara shooting at targets while riding a horse -- sidesaddle!

Sadly, the critical and box office failure of Cradle of Life probably guarantees no further entries in the series, and even if it does continue, Jolie looks ready to follow Audrey Hepburn's lead and put acting on the back burner in favor of humanitarian work so the role will probably go to another (possibly less talented) actress. If this turns out to be the case, I believe the Lara Croft series looks set to be remembered as fondly as the Derek Flint films of the 1960s.

Anyone who has been scared away by the bad reviews could do worse than to rent a copy from their local video store and check it out. You might be surprised at how much fun the movie is.
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I don't know why it has such a low rating
rafaelacavlina18 June 2018
I think this movie is even better than the first one,which is not often the case. It sends a strong message while the first movie doesn't send any message at all. I think also that the plot is way better than in the 1st one. That is why I don't know why it has lower rating that the first Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie..
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goofball action film
Buddy-5111 August 2005
Angelina Jolie returns as a distaff Indiana Jones in "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life," an action/adventure film (based on a video game character) that is just goofy enough and inane enough to be almost entertaining.

In this follow-up adventure - which is designed to give historians and social studies teachers a severe case of the heebie-jeebies - Lara, the world-famous archaeologist and adventurist, finds evidence that the mythical Pandora's Box is really no myth at all, but rather an actual object loaded with enough plague and pestilence to wipe the entire human race off the face of the planet. It lies buried somewhere, hidden by Alexander the Great in the 4th Century B.C. when he discovered how virulent and deadly the contents of the box really were. Now, twenty-four centuries later, Lara has to try and prevent an evil billionaire capitalist from locating the container, prying open the lid, and bringing an end to civilization as we know it.

Though the storyline is clearly not one to be conjured with, all that really matters in a movie such as this one is that the action move quickly and the stunts be sufficiently enterprising to engage the audience. Credibility is the last prerequisite in a Lara Croft adventure, as evidenced by the fact that if Lara isn't parachuting smack dab onto the deck of a ship or into the passenger seat of a moving jeep, she's hitching a ride on the back of a great white shark and riding it to safety. Ah well, it's all in good fun, I suppose, and Jolie not only looks stunning in all the outfits she's been given to wear, but seems to be having a fine time playing along with the joke.

The ending is inevitably anticlimactic, but viewers can have a pretty good time getting there at least.
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Great action packed film!
Movie Nuttball15 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Minor Spoilers.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is a great movie! Its arguably better than the first one! Angelina Jolie is great in it and it is so amazing that she does her own stunts! I think she is perfect for this role and that she is a fine actress! Gerard Butler was also good! His character is neat and his build and accent makes it cool! I thought he and Jolie worked very good together through out the film! He is a very good actor! I also thought that Ciarán Hinds and Djimon Hounsou performed good too! Good special effects. The film has an incredible amount of action! The part where Reiss and his men have Croft prisoner was believe it or not on the scary side! Great suspense! The Shadow Guardians were awesome! That scene where the monsters attack rulez! The music is by one of the greatest composers in My opinion and one of My favorites Alan Silvestri! Very good theme! This is My favorite of the two Tomb Raider films! I really like these and I hope that they will make at least one more and that Angelina Jolie plays Lara once more because she was born for this great role in My opinion! Excellent film! Strongly recommended!
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Nice to see a woman in lead action role!
nhover1 August 2005
If you're a die hard Indiana Jones fan, or any of those movies that take you all over the world on a great treasure hunt, you will LOVE Tomb Raider! Both movies show a new side to Angelina Jolie, a smart, skilled, self- reliant woman who can kick butt! So the characters don't have 10 dimensions, what person looking to watch a true action flick really CARES if the main character had a rough childhood or not? Not hat it is JUST like those other adventure movies either, yes there native tribesman, booby traps, and lots of bad guys who show up at just the right time, but the places this movie takes you are unique and extremely exotic! Plus when was the last time you saw a movie about Pandora's box, or where the FEMALE lead saves the day? So grab your popcorn and get ready to go for an adventurous ride with Lara Croft, Tomb Raider!
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Adventures and action-packed in charge of a video-game heroine
ma-cortes9 May 2005
The movie centers on Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) who is assigned by the British Intelligence -MI6- to discover the Pandora box that the baddies (Ciaran Hinds and Til Schweiger) want to find with the purpose of ruling the world . She is helped by an imprisoned mercenary (Gerard Butler) that will be freed , and two sympathetic underlings who appeared in the first part (Noah Taylor and Christhopher Barrie) . They'll have to confront amount of dangers , adventures and risks until reach their aims .

Run-of-the-mill action film because from the beginning to the final the frenetic action , thrills and fast movement are continued and unstopped . The picture blends emotion , intrigue , thriller , suspense , rip-roaring scenes and a little bit of violence when the fights happen . It is a film pretty bemusing and entertaining . It's a typical modern action film : continuous struggles in leaps and bounds , running men while are shooting and interminable pursuits . Besides , there are spellbound landscapes of various countries where the starring are traveling around the world to resolve the enigmas . The ending confrontation amongst the protagonists and enemies on the Kilimanjaro's skirts is breathtaking . The picture is similar to previous part with the difference in this latter there is an adventure chum (Gerard Butler) playing a type of ¨buddy movie¨ role. Thus , the storyline is basically a rehash of the former picture . Just as in the first film, there are several scenes in which the live-action Lara mimics are mingled with the computer generator effects . The film attained moderated success at box office , less than the first one , and not as good as the anterior . I don't know if the producers are going to make a third part .

David Tattersall's cinematography is glittering and glimmer as is well reflected on the awesome and impressive outdoors in charge of the production designer Petruccelli . Alan Silvestri's music is atmospheric and marvelous . The motion picture was well directed by Jan De Bont (Speed) . It is very spectacular , it is a film for adrenaline lovers . The yarn will appeal to Angelina Jolie and Lara Croft videogames fans.
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A girl who does her own stunts
AngieAngel22 September 2003
What more could you ask for of a female actress? This is truly the 21st century and women superheroes are real not fantasy. This Lara Croft character is put on by a dynamic performance by Angelina Jolie. She truly knows the meaning of live performance. Angelina is truly remarkable in this flick and the last Tomb Raider movie. Anyone who says different has too much time on their hands and would rather think about things that are of no relevance. Life is too short not to like this film. Have a good one!
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After being hugely disappointed by the first, here's what I thought of the second...
HunkyAres25 August 2003
I went into this film with mixed feelings. On one hand, I wanted to be excited- especially after seeing the trailers. But then I had seen the trailers for the first Tomb Raider movie, and boy, had I been disappointed. So, I went into this movie with restrained excitement. However, from the moment this film began, it was no longer restrained excitement... but pure hair-raising EXCITEMENT. The action in this movie was absolute eye-candy, and one of those few instances, where it seemed necessary within the narrative. Angelina Jolie was sensational... she gave personality to Lara. Lara Croft can now be put in the same league as James Bond, Indiana Jones, etc. I loved the little laughs she had, and she really was amazing when she performed her stunts. The English accent was perfect, too. The character Terry Sheridan was great, and the chemistry between him and Lara was electrifying. The plot was tight and understandable, unlike the first movie.

This is not ARTISTIC or a movie-trying-to-be-clever, it is pure entertainment. It delivers the action, but is three-dimensional because of the characters, and the emotion. It moves along, and doesn't get boring! Fans of the game will be pleased, because there are many scenes that closely resemble the game, especially the way Lara moves. :-D I really recommend this film and hope they make a third.
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Angelina IS Lara Croft.
Chozo25 August 2003
I have to say this was overall a great movie. The main reason I think this might be because of my love to video-games, and I loved Resident Evil and the first Tomb Raider movie too.

I wasn't really a fan when I saw the first movie, I'd never played a Tomb Raider game before, but I decided to give it a go as it looked really cool.

I went to the cinema to watch it and after that time I'm a big Tomb Raider fan. The movie was great, in my opinion. So I looked forward to play the games and wait for a sequel.

And here the sequel is. Lived up to most of my expectations. I've already watched it twice on the cinema in one week, and I still love it.

The first "action" scene was a good start of the movie. The Luna Temple collapsing and having bad guys shooting at you at the same time, was interesting to see. And it didn't take long before next actionscene, which never made this movie any boring.

I loved the humor and stunts too. There are many funny moments and stunts I remember well. Angeline is perfect as Lara Croft and I really hope they will make a Tomb Raider 3.

If I am to complain about something, it has to be about several things not being explained enough. The meeting in the plane in the beginning of the movie still leaves me with two questions. And some better character developments wouldn't have hurt.

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Gerry ::Tear::
writetoact4 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Personally I have to admit that I loved the movie. It is definitely better then the first and I love the Tomb Raider series. I play the games and I think that they capture the true essence of Lara Croft on screen. Angelina Jolie does an amazing job as Lara Croft and I don't think that they could ever choose anyone besides her. Gerard Butler also does an amazing job. It was the first film I ever saw him in and I was instantly in love with the way he was acting. I don't usually cry in films but for some reason his are the ones that actually get me too. When Terry dies my eyes were welling up with disappointment(not in Gerry's acting). I give two thumbs up to Gerard's acting and only wish that I could let everyone know how wonderful an actor he is in this movie and all of his others. Bravo!
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I enjoyed it for what it was, but not as good as the first.
Aaron137529 July 2003
This movie was all right, kept me entertained for the most part, but it needed more and less. The story is a bit better this time in parts, but it is also worse in others. I was kind of hoping I would hate this movie as most critics and people seem to, but I enjoyed it so now I suppose I will get private messages from people saying I should hate the movie. Well don't bother writing me please. The movie starts out with a cool underwater temple scene, and this is the highlight of the movie. It is also the only part in the movie that feels like the tomb raider video game. The rest of the movie has some good stuff, but it doesn't feel like tomb raider, more like a spy movie or something. At one point there is a scene with monsters that look like they belong in the Lord of the Ring movies. For what it was worth it was ok, but these monsters were kind of out of place. At least the stone warriors from the first movie have actually appeared in the game. I would also love to see Lara go into an actual tomb for once. Sure the underwater temple was cool, but it was just one room. Like the first one all the tombs here are usually one room. Can't they have here go through a really long tomb with multiple traps and stuff for her to shoot at? Also, I wish she would have used her guns more. I shoot more in five minutes of the video game than she does in this entire movie, and she always loses her weapons too. Not that I don't want to see character development and stuff, but this is a movie based on a game, it should be a bit more action packed than what we get. All in all though it was okay, I enjoyed it, but it just wasn't as good as the first for me.
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Good as entertainment
Lyceus21 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a good action and adventures movie. It's really unrealistic, but who cares? Most stunts wouldn't be in the movie if it wasn't a video-game adaptation, but it doesn't matter - and they make the movie more enjoyable! Angelina Jolie is a great Lara Croft. She's a mix between Indiana Jones and Xena, and she reminds me of the TV heroine Sydney Fox in "Relic Hunter" (Sydney is obviously inspired in Tomb Raider's Lara). The other actors are OK, I don't really got impressed but I doubt the movie pretended that. The plot is in fact quite interesting, although not original at all (the evil guy wants to earn millions of dollars by selling a powerful biological weapon which is kept in Pandora's box). The places Lara visits (Greece, China, Africa...) are beautiful and are good choices (I love when she rides in her motorbike on the Great Chinese Wall). The end was good, I didn't think Lara would kill his mate in order to keep the world safe from Pandora's box.

To sum up, a very good movie if you just want entertainment.
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Quite good, indeed.
devstk24 August 2003
I thought the movie was nicely paced, and the action was, to say the least, pretty darn good. Granted, the story line could have been "fished" out a bit, Ms. Jolie's action made up for that short fall. Being a huge fan of Mr. Chris Barrie, it was nice to see the character of Hillary have more to do than just clean up after the mansion gets raided. Let's hope the next installment has the same action, fast paced locations and even more realism in the storyline. All in all, The Cradle of Life hits almost all the right notes. Ms. Jolie has done some fine work here.
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Video Game Characters cannot be Brought to Hollywood Movies
Jerr19 December 2003
The second film was better than the first one in the sense that it relates to stories that are more accurate to the video games. However the fantasy used to create the stories of the video games does not suit very well hollywood movies. Successful video game stories turn out to be cheesie on the movies and a movie stories of video game characters are too far away from the original.

Who won on this movie? Tomb Raider fans happened to see their fantastic character finally materialized in a Hollywood star which matches most of the characteristics described in the original Lara Croft. Now the Tomb Raider video games are well known by the name of Angelina Jolie. Jolie's fans win because they have another opportunity to see her dressing outfits that remark her green eyes and very long black hair. Outfits that she would very rarely dress ever again, but that will certainly add more points to her sexy image. I saw the movie because I fell in love with the character materialized in Angelina Jolie. After seeing this film I ended up becoming a little fan of both: Lara Croft & Angelina Jolie. Something that I couldn't feel on the first film.

Some things that I believe are valuable to appreciate from this movie are: Jolie's professionalism to play scenes that are normally executed by stunts: Lara shooting from the horse, All martial arts fighting scenes, Playing those jetsky tricks, or doing the shooting when coming down from that rope, and when being elevated by the shark. All in all I think this film increased Jolie's sexy image in that unforgettable silver suit.
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It's Great to see Angelina Jolie in the role of Lara Croft
Jerr18 November 2003
I like Lara Croft. I like Angelina Jolie playing the role of Lara Croft and I liked all the special effects they used to make this movie. Movie is entertainingly good. I wished Jolie considered playing a third part, but she already declared she won't do it again. "Two Tomb Raiders is enough" I hope she changes her mind.
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A Breezy, Fun Movie
CitizenCaine18 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This is a breezy, fun movie. Angelina Jolie is perfect in this repeat role. I never saw the first movie. As a result of the first film and recent entertainment, similar lead female action movies are in the works. Halle Berry's character, Jinx, from Die Another Day and Jennifer Garner's Electra from Daredevil are two possibilities. This follows the Hollywood trend of copying, rather than creating anew. The male characters support Angelina well, in what she has to do, but serve as eye candy too. I love her outfits! The movie is very much modeled on James Bond movies: exotic, multiple villains; electronic gadgets; multiple modes of transportation and locales; multiple shoot-outs and explosions; witty dialog (at times); and topical plot developments. I'll admit I only saw this movie because the other two on the bill were worse choices in my book: Bad Boys 2 and American Wedding. The whole "cradle of life" thing was intriguing at first, but became very lame and out of place in this movie for me. It's always a big mistake for action fare, particularly similar to this movie, to try to send a message or say something profound. However, this movie had just the right combination of action, plot, colorful characters, brains & beauty (courtesy of Ms. Jolie). Girl power rules! *** of 4 stars.
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Pretty Good, If All You Want Is A Brainless Action Movie
christian1231 July 2005
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is an improvement over the original as it delivers more action and adventure. Archaeologist and explorer extraordinaire, Lara Croft, journeys to a temple which has sunken underwater in search of lost treasures. During her expedition, Croft happens upon a sphere that contains the mythical Pandora's Box, only to have it stolen from her by Chen Lo, the leader of a Chinese crime syndicate. Chen Lo is in league with a bad guy named Reiss, who wants to use the priceless Box as a doomsday weapon. The plot sounds okay but the main reason someone would see this film is for the action scenes and Angelina Jolie. People just wanting those two things will probably enjoy this film. People that want a good story and better direction should skip this film. The action scenes are really cool and are done well. However, the story is weak and the film doesn't quite make sense at times either. I think the person that should be blamed is Jan de Bont. He is a terrible director and can't build up suspense very well. He did a bit better then Simon West but still the studio should have hired someone else. The acting is good not great but nothing horrible either. Angelina Jolie does a good job of playing Lara Croft and she is also very breathtaking in the film. Gerard Butler does a good job as well though sometimes his performance wasn't very interesting. The action scenes are really cool and are done well. Another problem I had with this film is that it gets boring at times. Having a lot of action doesn't mean its audience will be entertained. The movie's running time is 117 minutes which is a bit longer then the original. I think they could have cut the film down to about the same length as there some pointless scenes. If you hated the original then you should skip this film as the film is more of the same but it is more entertaining. As long as you don't try to notice too many of the mistakes in the film then you should enjoy it. If your looking for a serious action flick then just skip this. Rating 6.8/10
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Pretty people in pretty places doing impossible things----
Ishallwearpurple12 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
With tongue firmly in cheek, the story of this film is a series of preposterous events, but what are we to expect of a game made into a movie? Angelina Jolie is Lady Lara Croft, and is stunning in her skin tight gray diving suit. Ciaran Hinds (Phantom Of The Opera) is the villain, a scientist bent on getting his hands on the Pandora's box containing the essence of all evil, in order to rule the world. Lara is having none of that, and enlists her former partner Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler - The Phantom) to help find it and keep it away from evil doers.

There are some wonderful set pieces throughout the film as with the underwater temple; Lara arriving at the boat to start the expedition on a jet ski (wowser!); the shark to the rescue (huh?); the sub to the rescue (double huh?). More: at the Croft mansion the kung fu; the sidesaddle horse riding while shooting at targets (wow!); at the prison getting Terry released - her in her white fur amid all that filth; Terry doing pull ups dripping sweat; Terry looking down from his bars saying "Croft" in just the right way to let us know this is one dangerous hombre. And his devastating comment to Lara "I AM Charming" and isn't he just? The motorcycle race between Lara and Terry across the great wall in China was fun. Him telling her "don't look at my ass" as they climb a hill was cute and funny.

The famous sex scene is so reversed - she is the one in charge and he ends up her prey and victim - is one for the books. Nice eye candy for all of us out here in the real world.

That's the good stuff. There are some strange choices made by the director (or whoever?) A wedding celebration on the edge of a precipice to show the quake at the beginning? Lots of money for what purpose - didn't add anything for me. The upside-down gunfight as Lara and Terry escape once again. Sorry, the thrill is gone and it bombed.

Simon Chow is good and in his Hong Kong films a real menace - but here was wasted. Croft running up the car shooting - a la Chow Yun Fat in some of his 1980's films - is blatant 'borrowing.' All the shooting out of glass in the office building - a la "Die Hard" - been there done that.

AND!!! What is with the Shadow Guardians in the last fourth of film. We go from sort of realism filtered through game playing mentality into science fiction. Blech! Lame! Cinematography is gorgeous and some of the sound track music is fine. Overall a more good than bad - 7/10
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Impressive stunts do not a movie make...
Doylenf26 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
ANGELINA JOLIE makes the most of showing her prowess at performing stunts that any male would envy, but the showcase for her physical skills is hardly worthy of her presence. The script is as shallow as the video game it is based on and no one has much of a chance to give any depth to their characters.

As a result, even her co-star, hunky Gerard Butler with his Scottish accent, has trouble registering more than a "go through the motions" kind of performance. The chemistry between him and Jolie can only be described as "icy". Not to worry. He later steamed up the screen two years later with his Phantom role and a scorching "Point of No Return" sequence that had his female fans gasping for breath. Here, I have to report, he is sadly wasted, except for a couple of daring stunts that he and Jolie perform well together.

Ciarin Hinds, as the villain, later joined Butler for PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. He would have been more convincing here with the mustache he assumed for his Phantom character. Something is missing in his evil portrait. He just doesn't seem comfortable in the role.

Things keep moving, stunts every few minutes, explosions, gunfire, jumping off tall buildings, dazzling neon explosions, all accompanied by Alan Silvestri's booming soundtrack music. But in the end, all we have left with is a stuntathon sort of thing that is pointless in tracing the story of the search for Pandora's Box and the quest for an orb. It's cliffhanger stuff for the mindless and that's about all.

Not worth two hours of viewing time and the ending is rather lame.
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Jolie in tight outfits. shame the film is little else
TheNorthernMonkee1 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers

For a long time the worlds of cinema and video games have been interlinked. For every film which has it's own game released, one game has a film created in the opposite direction. In 1993 we were introduced to the Bob Hoskins' picture "Super Mario Brothers" based on the original game. Eventually it wasn't long before the Lara Croft series would continue this route and therefore in 2001 the first "Tomb Raider" film was released. Whilst this first outing was a suitable story with relevance to the original series, the 2003 sequel was shocking in the fact that it was awkward, badly written and badly filmed. Ultimately, not even Angelina Jolie in tight outfits and bikinis could save this film from the rubbish dump where it belongs.

In this second film, Jolie's Lara Croft is dispatched off around the world in the search of Pandora's Box, also referred to as "The Cradle Of Life". Along the way, Croft picks up an exlove in the shape of Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) as she attempts to prevent greedy, virus dealer Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds) from unleashing an awful plague across the globe.

In James Hart's story, the idea of "Tomb Raider" dies a painful death. Whilst the original story was clever and intriguing with Croft travelling around the world with her butler Hillary (Chris Barrie) not far behind, this second adventure was relatively limited in location and with more violence than thought process. The first inspired people to think and actually focus on such a mindless film. In contrast, "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life" is monotonous and infuriating. This film is in fact so pointless that the brain rots as you slowly watch more of it.

As well as the awful script, this film suffers from a lack of acting ability. Whilst Chris Barrie's butler has evolved from a butler to a ridiculous comedy figure, Angelina Jolie has increased her posh English accent and produced a truely hideous performance. It's a shame actually because Jolie has the perfect body and appearance to represent Croft, but she just makes the role slightly too hilarious to be taken serious. Jolie has a nice body, ridiculously good in a black bikini, but mentally the actress is too stressed to provide a suitable performance.

Ultimately this second "Tomb Raider" film suffers from a lack of plot and a bit too much special effects. The thought process of the series and game have been removed in favour of Jolie in tight outfits and pointless elements. In some films this could work, sadly in the "Tomb Raider" series, it doesn't.
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Weakest Action Movie of the Summer
dromasca1 September 2003
This second movie in the 'Tomb Raider' series was a disapointment for me. I was not a great fan of the first one either. Certainly Angelina Jolie is as sexy as you can get, but there is too little else in her character to make her the female James Bond that the authors of the series want her to be. Even the sentimental track in this second movie does not succeed to make her more real. Director Jan de Bont succeeded much better with the original story in 'Speed' or the reality-TV like effects in 'Twister'. In 'Tomb Raider 2' he is just mixing a potion of James Bond with a little bit of Indiana Jones, without too much of a result. If you did not see it yet, you may as well wait for the DVD. 6/10 on my personal scale.
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The Best James Bond Film In Five Years!
johnnysugar31 July 2003
Let's face it, the James Bond franchise has become rather limp lately. "The World Is Not Enough" was a debacle of miscasting and an an endless parade of meaningless subplots and tertiary characters. "Die Another Day" suffered from much of the same, but was also saddled with an inexplicable amount of stereo feedback and one of the oddest (if catchiest) theme songs in recent memory. The series has been re-energized with the new entry "The Cradle Of Life," a high-spirited, far-reaching film that doesn't quite succeed but is such an improvement on the originals that you're ready to overlook all that.

Actually, this is a review of "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life", the sequel to 2001's abysmally dull video-game-based film "Tomb Raider." Angelina Jolie is back as sexy, gun-toting archeologist Lara Croft, and at first glance, it's easy to mistake her for Bond, Jane Bond. Lara is a British citizen of refined taste, highly competent in various forms of weaponry, travels around the globe to exotic locations, has friends (and lovers) in virtually every port, uses a wide variety of nifty gadgets, has an amusing yet dry form of wit, looks fabulous, and routinely saves the world from a madman bent on global domination. She's a better 007 than Timothy Dalton in any case.

The film begins with Lara diving into a sunken temple off the coast of Greece. While there, she is attacked by Chinese mercenaries, her support crew killed and left for dead, the mercenaries making off with a mysterious glowing orb. Seems that mad scientist Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds) is looking for Pandora's Box, and the orb is the key to finding it. Lara is appointed by MI:6 with stopping Reiss because opening the box would unleash an amazingly nasty plague upon the world. Besides her support staff of Hillary (Chris Barrie) and computer expert Bryce (Noah Taylor), Lara joins forces with ex-lover Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), a shifty mercenary and the only person who knows how to get to the mercenaries who stole the orb in the first place. And of course, time is running out.

Jolie is excellent as Lara Croft, and there probably isn't an actress around who would be better cast in the role. Jolie has the physicality, the look, the voice, and the attitude to pull off the role effortlessly. She was the only redeeming factor in the first film, and she's great to watch here. The supporting cast is a mixed bag. Hinds refrains from chewing up too much of the scenery, but he brings to mind some of the more notable Bond villains of recent times. Butler is great to look at, but his performance is far too low-key and deadpan for a movie as bombastic as this one wants to be, especially when he's paired with Jolie, who enters each seen with a relishing look in her eyes. Taylor again acts as a dry kind of comic relief, and he displays far more chemistry with Jolie than Butler does.

One of the biggest improvements in this film is the director. Replacing Simon West (responsible for the monotonous "Con Air") is Jan de Bont ("Speed"), a much more competent director even if some of his films are only barley entertaining ("The Haunting"). de Bont has a knack for action on a small scale, most vividly in a gun-fight staged in a laboratory/office, but his large scale pieces, like Lara body-gliding off of one of Hong Kong's tallest buildings, lack drama. Still, de Bont has chosen good locations and sets for the film, and there is a blessedly welcome lack of the "Matrix"-style visuals and candy-colored bombast so popular in action films of recent memory. He is nothing if not up to task. The film operates well within its own set of rules and physics, unlike many other films that tend to sacrifice internal logic for cheap stunts.

As much of an improvement on the first film as this is, there are still flaws. The script, while improving ten-fold on the original, still falls flat on several occasions, sometimes held up only by Jolie's confident line readings. At almost two hours, the film displays a desperate need for tighter scenes and a quicker pace while simultaneously leaving some scenes cut too quickly. The movie can be very easily divided into stages, which may hold true to the spirit of the video game's levels, but often leaves the audience doing nothing more than predicting when the DVD chapter cuts will occur in six months. Also, like the James Bond films, there is rarely any doubt that Lara will escape any dire situation she finds herself in. Like 007, we always know the hero will prevail in the end, which robs some scenes of the tension needed to excite the audience.

Despite some of these flaws, "The Cradle Of Life" is a fine movie and a good way to spend 2 hours on a summer afternoon. Jolie obviously enjoys the role, and if nothing else, the film is worth it for that alone. Here's hoping the third entry into the series is even better than the this one. 7 out of 10.
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Jan De Bont, thy name is wasted potential...
mentalcritic16 October 2004
When I look at Jan De Bont's resumé, I think of all the brilliant Dutch projects he has worked upon, and then I think of the films he has directed in America. The gulf between the two is such that even the less discerning can't help but be amazed. This is, after all, the guy who worked alongside one of Holland's favourite sons, the legendary Paul Verhoeven, on such indisputable triumphs as Turks Fruit or Flesh + Blood. To call directing such dreck as Speed or Tomb Raider 2 a comedown is a form of flattery.

Lara Croft, Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life, also proves one of a certain critic's rules regarding appreciating film based on their titles. The rule basically states that the longer the title is, the worse the film will be. Just as RoboCop, clocking in at a mere seven characters, is one of the greatest films the American film industry has ever been blessed with, Tomb Raider 2's full title clocks in at a whopping forty-two. Believe me, the quality level indicated by this under the aforementioned rule is very much in force here.

A classic example of this film's idiocy is when Lara, bleeding from one leg and stranded outside an underwater crypt, punches a shark in the face before riding on his back and finding a quiet place to sleep out on the ocean for an unspecified period. I'm no expert on sharks, but I would have thought that the impediment to motion that being under several hundred feet of water poses would make a punch in the face feel to a shark what a light poke in the nose would feel to us under normal circumstances. Not to mention the fact that, after lying out in such a large body of water for so long with an open wound, at least another shark is bound to come along sooner or later.

One area where Jan deserves credit is that I've never seen him resort to the use of shaky-cam. Thankfully, directors of European origin saw right through the party line that this puts the audience into the action, and realized that it does nothing of the kind. As a result, while many shots are too close for comfort during action sequences, they are at least stable enough that one can make sense of the actors' motions. The fight scene choreography is of such a quality that it doesn't need to be hidden from the audience.

Angelina Jolie seems to have a lock on strong woman characters that are so generic she can portray them all alike, yet she does this template so well that at least this audience member fails to notice. The problem here is that every character in this film is so generic that you cannot help but notice. Jolie's acting is never that brilliant, but she looks like Anna Paquin next to Gerard Butler. Noah Taylor is another classic example of a reason why I am not surprised that Australian entertainers rarely manage to get out of the isolation tank that is Australia. Seriously, this guy could be reading a description of Angelina's naked body and bore the hell out of me.

I gave Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life a two out of ten. Don't mistake this to mean that it is necessarily better than the films I gave a one out of ten. When I give something a two out of ten, that means its mediocrity makes it seem like a deliberate waste of a good hundred million. Aside from Angelina Jolie in skin-tight lycra and a clever twist ending, there ain't nothing to see here, folks.
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Your video game has not come to life; it's gotten more interesting
vesil_vesalier19 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Adaptation is one of the hardest things to do, regardless of the mediums that you are dealing with. Trying to make a book into a movie is hard, trying to make a remake of a movie already done (especially when done well) is terribly difficult, and so far making a video game into a movie has been nearly impossible.

When I saw the first TOMB RAIDER movie, I enjoyed the popcorn, but fell off the train, so to speak, once we reached the scene involving the stone statues. Because up until that point, all we had was very entertaining action fare. Angelina was amusing, her comrades were entertaining, the threat against her was legitimate (as long as we're talking about the actual gunmen. If we're talking about the heavy, Manfred Powell, rotten soup noodles are more intimidating). But once you start throwing living statues that have no reason to be alive, you know you've crossed over into video game territory, and getting back from there is a shaky prospect indeed.

So I didn't love the original TOMB RAIDER. Fun popcorn, good soundtrack. Terribly weak bad-guy. Meh.

I've heard that those that loved the video games were quite pleased with it, said that the movie followed the games well. Can't speak to it, myself, because I haven't played any Tomb Raider game. Not yet, anyway.

All that aside, I LOVED this movie. Angelina's portrayal of Lara got boosted several notches, in performance, accent, charm, and character. Gerard Butler adds to the plot as Terry Sheridan, giving Jolie something to play with as she goes about her business. Ciaran Hinds plays Jonathan Reiss, a cold and cruel disease-wielder who happily dispatches as he pleases with his nasty little bugs, complete with a superiority complex to match. The butler and computer expert are back (sadly not in as much of the scenery as before, but nobody's perfect).

We've got top-notch action, we have lethality in the combat this time, we have the strange side-game of cat-and-mouse between Terry and Lara, and we have a heavy that Lara deserves. The cheesiness is left for the final act, with hulking black creatures made of not terribly bad CGI trying to guard the treasure they seek. Not bad, all in all.

It's amazing to me that certain movies can have deal-breakers so large that it crashes the entire movie for a general audience, and in other cases terribly impossible action can pass without anyone caring. In FAST AND THE FURIOUS movies, no action is impossible. Anything goes. Nothing is a deal-breaker.

In this movie, everybody flipped out because Lara punches a shark. Silly, yes. Over-the-top, perhaps. A deal-breaker? NO. I've seen worse. Living statues that come to life to kill everyone in the chamber AFTER you've already lifted the final treasure comes to mind. I mean seriously, after the battle, are they supposed to REPLACE the fragment somehow? Or does it just sit on the floor in the middle of the room as their partially damaged bodies go back to sitting in the corners, waiting for the next sucker to come on in and pick up a broken triangle? Seriously, guys, LET THE SHARK THING GO. Swallow it, and move on.

But finally, the thing that really gets me surrounding all of the hate of this movie is something that has stuck with me for years. The first Tomb Raider movie was a success. Enough of one for Hollywood to make this film. The first movie was passable as a theatrical experience. It felt like the reenactment of a video game, which is, I guess, what it was supposed to do.

THIS movie, however, felt like a movie. An Indiana Jones-type deal, complete with heroic protagonist, silly setup, great villain, awesome music, and overall fun ride. No video game-related material ANYWHERE.

And that, apparently, was the problem for everyone that didn't like it.

So the first movie is a pass, where it's essentially medium-rate popcorn that felt like a video game. The second is an actual solid movie that felt nothing like a video game. What the public wants, apparently, is to watch a movie about a video game they've already played. They do not want original stories involving the characters of those video games. They want to go from an interactive experience where they feel like they are shooting the guns, killing the bad-guys, and finding the treasure to… Watching somebody re-do it all on a giant screen.

I think this is why we may never, ever see a successful hit movie based on a video game that actually satisfies on every level. People want things that aren't real. It's like criticizing THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy because it didn't cover enough of the book.

Jesus, guys. What the hell do you really want, anyway?
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Exciting Action Though Quite Predictable
eric26200331 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Thousands of years ago, Alexander the Great discovered the greatest source of life on Earth, the Cradle of Life. The power within the box that was dubbed Pandora's Box was had a plague-like side effects that the ruler had hidden the box and has never been revealed since then. Today, an evil bio-terrorist named Dr. Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds) is in hot pursuit of that box and is willing to exploit its powers to our vulnerable world. Lady Lara Croft, assigned by the MI6 was called upon to retrieve the box before it's placed in the wrong hands. That's pretty much about the story of "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life."

The opening scenes start off like you would expect set in the Santorini Islands off of Greece where fishing boats are all around. Then all of the sudden, a speeding jet ski appears on the scene and makes a flip onto one of the fishing boats. Sure enough it's Lady Croft. Just then, a massive earthquake erupts and ironically opens up a secret, mythological hideaway hidden undersea, which might be Alexander's Luna Temple. So Lady Croft and her crew get in their deep sea gear and start exploring the area in hopes to find The Cradle of Life.

Croft and her crew discover an orb which could be the element that could lead to The Cradle of Life, and Pandora's Box and all the powers it contains. What Croft doesn't know is that the leader of an Ancient Chinese gang called the Shay Ling, Chen Lo (Simon Yam) also has his mindset on that orb. During the fight, he and his men grab Lady Croft and strand her in a cavern. While this happens, the quake aftershock comes into effect and closes the temple down. The always resourceful Croft makes a miraculous escape as she hops onto a shark for safety.

Lady Croft's journey takes us around the world as she's assigned by MI6 as Dr. Croft enlists a former British Commandeer, now serving as a mercenary who's been incarcerated in Kazakhstan named Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler). If he promised to help her on her dangerous mission, he promised Sheridan his freedom, amnesty, 5 million pounds and the return to British government. For if her mission fails, than Reiss will have the power for world domination, the orb that will open Pandora's Box and unlock a mysterious disease which could lead to a potential global epidemic. The globe hopping adventure takes us from Greece, to China, to Hong Kong and finally to Kenya, where it's claimed that the Cradle of Life is situated.

Video game aficionados will likely have their eyes set on this sequel to the Lara Croft video game adaptation and might even like it better than its predecessor. Angelina Jolie is great person to watch as she's both intelligent and quite stunning to look at. but there thing that really makes her stand out is that she carries a big set of guns. Come on guys, we all know you're all smitten for foxy chicks with huge guns. This movie has several action scenes that could compare to that of the more recent James Bond movies. If the Broccoli family wanted to change genders of Bond, she could be the next Bond.

Even though Jolie carries the bulk of the film, the supporting cast does a fine job as well. Butler does a great job as Croft's partner and shows that he's not just a sidekick to Croft on her dangerous adventures. He has the physical toughness and the good- looking appeal and is anything but a tag-along for the ride character. Sure the romance element between him Croft were not needed, but it never hindered the film in the least. Many of the cast seems under- developed as they can be just bullet shields for our leading heroine. Cieran Hinds is convincing as the evil genius even if his bad guy role is clichéd. However German actor Til Schweiger stands out in much- needed comic relief as Reiss' sidekick,Sean. Returning to the sequel are Christopher Barrie and Noah Taylor as Croft's technological experts Hillary and Bryce, but are not prominent in their roles. Same can be said of Djimon Hounosu as Croft's Kenyan companion.

The technical features are in sync with the big-budget that came into making this sequel (it was $300 million worldwide). The stunts, costumes, choreography and the cinematography was a first class act in itself. A big shout out goes to Jim Henson's Creature shop at providing some invigorating monsters when Lara and company enter into the realms of the Cradle of Life. The Cradle itself looks like a carbon copy of the famous Escher painting, you know the painting with all those stairs surrounding the area. And the stairs are going around different places.

"Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life" is something that both boys and girls can both enjoy. for the guys because of the immense popularity of the classic video game this movie's based on and for the girls an iconic female hero they can look up to. And for fans who love thrill-seeking sagas like Indiana Jones, James Bond or the Bourne series, will truly enjoy this film as well. But as more films are dependant on saturating the screens with CGI graphics, I fear that if they spawn another sequel of this series, it will not exceed the expectations of the first one and this one. Let's not let this happen.
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