Lara Croft, Tomb Raider
The Cradle of Life
2 out of 5 stars
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Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
It's an understatement to say I wasn't a fan of the first Tomb Raider movie two summers ago; what an incoherent, joyless, self-important mess it was! So I'm pleased to report that this follow-up is a vast improvement on the franchise. It's still terrible ... but in a much more fun way. This time Lady Croft (Jolie) is on the trail of a mysterious glowing orb that can lead her to the mythical Cradle of Life, home of Pandora's Box, which a weapons dealer (Hinds) wants to get his hands on for obvious apocalyptic reasons. Helping her this time are her buddies Bryce and Hillary (Taylor and Barrie), her university pal Kosa (Hounsou), and an old flame (Butler), who's probably not very trustworthy. Their adventure takes them to the bottom of the Mediterranean, deepest Kazakhstan, all over China and into the Serengeti.

Camp value is the important addition here! Everyone clearly knows the plot is ludicrous, so they just have fun with it; the performances are full of attitude, and the stuntwork is slightly more grounded in reality, while still unafraid to be gut-wrenchingly stupid. The only problem here is de Bont, who directs with a lead fist that loses its grip on both the action and the story, gets bogged down in overwrought (and deeply cliched) production design, and sucks the life out of set pieces that should be much more exciting. The occasional thrilling moments seem like anomalies--like the characters revolted against de Bont and injected some life of their own. Jolie is much better this time around; she's still mad as a hatter, but unlike the first film you can get a feel for her character here. Butler is a sexy partner/foil for her. And the rest of the ensemble make their thankless roles work, allowing us to sit back and enjoy the nonsense for a couple of hours.

cert 12 themes, violence, innuendo 29.Jul.03

dir Jan de Bont
scr Dean Georgaris
with Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Ciaran Hinds, Noah Taylor, Djimon Hounsou, Christopher Barrie, Til Schweiger, Simon Yam, Terence Yin, Daniel Caltagirone, Fabiano Martell, Robert Cavanah
release US 25.Jul.03; UK 22.Aug.03
03/UK 1h57

Raiders of Pandora's Box: Butler and Jolie.

jolie butler hinds

See also: TOMB RAIDER (2001)

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send your review to Shadows... tomb raider 2 "I had no interest in the first movie - gee, a movie with a hot babe based on a video game? But when it came on cable, I watched it for free. And liked it. So when I saw the sequel was coming up, I wanted to see this one on the big screen. Okay, maybe it is just another way to keep Angelina Jolie as a hot action chick pinup - but okay, I still liked it. Lots of action, some plot twists and plenty of cool gadgets - but it was entertaining, made me jump and almost spill the popcorn - and what is wrong having a strong female action hero? All I can say is, Will there be a third? And if there is, I wanna see it on the big screen! Really, if you want to escape the summer heat and be entertained, I would defnitely recommend this movie - and if you liked the first, you will not be disappointed in the second. Even Bob said it was good." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 28.Jul.03
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall