Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
Starring:
Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler
Directed By :
Jan de Bont
Grade C

I have to admit, I enjoyed the first Tomb Raider, and I think it was one of the better movie adaptations of a video game thus far. Of course, that's not saying much, video game movies rarely live up to their source material, much less become decent films. So I went into Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life with expectations that it would at least match the previous film, and hoped it would be better. Sadly, this is not the case.

Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life starts off fairly well, but quickly goes downhill. After an earthquake in Greece, Lara (Angelina Jolie) learns that the ancient Temple of Luna has been uncovered. Apparently, this temple was where Alexander the Great hid his most valuable treasures. Its' location was unknown for centuries, but Lara has found it and the film begins with her exploring the underwater temple. She finds a small globe, which serves as a map to Pandora's Box. But before she can take the globe and add it to her collection, she is assaulted by rivals, who steal the globe and escape.

The globe has been stolen by villain Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds); a global bio-terrorist who engineers various diseases and viruses, releases them, and then sells the antidote. He plans to take Pandora's Box and sell it to the highest bidder, after they release its power, he will sell the antidote to its plague, making millions. (How you make an antidote to death is beyond me, but they just gloss over that, much like everything in the film.) Lara is recruited by MI6 to retrieve the globe, but she won't do it unless she is aided by Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler). Seems Lara and Terry were once an item, and he is the only person she believes is capable of leading her to the people who stole the globe. The rest of the film is spent traveling to various locations, catching up with and losing the globe, until Lara finally finds it and unknowingly uses it to reveal the location of Pandora's Box to the villains, setting up the totally ridiculous finale.

The acting isn't any worse than the first movie, but it certainly isn't any better. The two leads generate almost zero chemistry; it's hard to believe they once were in love, as the movie wants us to think. The villain is your typical greedy corporate type, who offers absolutely no threat. In the first film, Lara took on an entire squad of soldiers, she should be able to dispatch him with ease, but she doesn't. The final choice Lara has to make is supposed to be heart wrenching, but it comes off feeling pointless, you'll see it coming a mile away and not care when it's over.

The action isn't very good either, in fact most of it is downright boring, and some of it makes absolutely no sense at all. Early on, in the underwater temple, Lara is stuck without an air tank, and must find a way to the surface. Her solution? Swim into the water, cut herself, and use the blood to attract a shark. She then hits the shark on the nose, grabs its fin, and rides it to the surface. Now, I'm not a marine biologist, but I'm pretty sure that's BS. Later there is a scene where Lara and Terry must escape down a mountainside. They grab onto a rope, flip upside-down and hold on with their feet, and slide down, shooting bad guys all the way. This might have been an interesting scene, if we actually got to see any of it. The editing was terrible, all you see are you see flashes of guys dying, then a flash of Lara shooting, then a flash of Terry shooting, a couple more bad guys die, and then it's over. In fact, most of the action in the movie has this frantic, MTV-video style quick cutting, and it's downright annoying.

Overall, if you didn't enjoy the first Tomb Raider, you probably won't like Tomb Raider - Cradle of Life either. If you did enjoy the first film, you're better off watching that again than seeing this movie. If you must see it, I'd recommend waiting until DVD for this one, there's just nothing here worth seeing on the big screen.

- - Darken Rahl

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