Lara Croft Tomb Raider:
The Cradle of Life (2003)
Ebert: Rolling Stone: TV Guide:1/2
Warning, minor plot points revealed!
Like most 32 year old nerds, I love everything about Lara Croft. I've never played the video game Tomb Raider in my entire life but I love Lara Croft. There's really no way you can go wrong with a character like Lara Croft and when she's played by Angelina Jolie that's just all the better! Lara Croft... I like her!
Most people were not fans of the first film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. I suppose I can understand to some degree why they didn't like the film but honestly, did you really expect a movie based on a video game to have a really excellent story? If you did then perhaps you are the problem. The first Tomb Raider movie did all that it needed to do. It introduced Lara Croft and showed us who she is and what she does.
What Lara Croft does in the sequel is pretty much what Lara Croft did in the original. And for all of you who deride her adventures, keep in mind that she is basically just a really sexy contemporary version of Indiana Jones. So to say "I don't like Tomb Raider" is the same as saying "I don't like Raider's of the Lost Ark" and what sane person would ever say such a thing?
In the The Cradle of Life, Lara Croft is on a mission to find Pandora's Box before an evil arms dealer can locate it and use it to destroy all human life (except those he deems worthy to live in his new world order.) Basically it's the exact same story as Raiders, just substitute the "Ark of the Covenant" for "Pandora's Box," "Nazi" for "Terrorist" and "Indy" for "Lara."
I loved this film. It's like James Bond movie with a super sexy woman playing James Bond. I love the exotic locales, the ancient ruins, the different cultures and the neat gadgets. I also love the impossible stunts, the relentless action, and the fact that every character is an extreme stereotype. Lara is an impossibly cool British Aristocrat adventurer. Her butler is like every butler you've ever seen in every film ever made. Her Tech-Nerd is a super nerd who personifies all nerd qualities except that he is skinny as opposed to the typical fat nerd. Her male partner / lover is a swaggering macho tough guy and the villain is delightfully cartoonishly wickedly evil. There is no uncertainty in the Tomb Raider movies. Everyone is exactly who they are.
The special effects are excellent. Mostly it's James Bond / Charlie's Angels type action adventure stuff. Gun fights, hand to hand martial arts, motorcycle, car and boat chases. There's a crazy-cool flying squirrel parachute jump off a really tall building. An interesting and exciting underwater escape and a great John Woo type gun battle in a secret lab hidden in a shopping mall. The paranormal effect this time is a kind of ghost-beast that pulls you into rock, trees or the ground. It's a neat effect and less stupid looking than the living statues in the last film.
All the actors from the first film are back except for Lara Croft's dad who we saw in flashback played by John Voight in the first film. He's Angelina's dad in real life but they hate each other at the moment so he apparently wasn't invited to reprise his role. Angelina Jolie is really the only famous actor in the movie which is nice. She is probably more suited to play Lara Croft than any other woman who ever lived. This is the role she was born to play and she is perfect. The goofy butler and afore mentioned nerdy tech guy are back but only have limited roles this time. The only other person of name would probably be Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Amistad), but he's only in the movie for a few minutes at the end.
If you've got a couple hours to kill you should definitely go see Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. At the very least you get to spend 2 wonderful hours watching Angelina Jolie doing cool stuff and lookin' hot!
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