Monday, August 04, 2003


A Film Review of "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

The first film Lara Croft Tomb Raider wasn't that bad. It wasn't terribly good either. Based on that I wasn't expecting much with its sequel. Despite an irritating similarity to Raiders of the Lost Ark (which is not necessarily a bad thing) The Cradle of Life exceeds expectations.

Helmed by experienced action director Jan de Bont, whose previous work includes the Speed films, Twister and the 1999 remake of The Haunting, this actioner rolls nonstop across the screen like a rampaging bull. It doesn't slow down for more than a minute. Every scene, every detail is relevant and moves the story along. Yeah, story, unlike the first movie, this one has a story, not just pretty images to look at.

This is not to say this one isn't pretty to look at. Its special effects and visuals are stunning. The early scenes in the underwater temple are the stuff of Spielberg. Like its predecessor we see lots of action and lots of exotic places but this time linked by an actual plot, a nice change for a movie based on a video game. Usually having a video game or a comic book as source material is the kiss of death. Not here.

Angelina Jolie seems at ease with her part now as a standard of female empowerment and her breasts stay the same size throughout this installment. Although the movie version of Lara is as far from the video game version as Spider-Man and Daredevil are from their source material there are times where Jolie strikes poses straight out of your computer. She is as sexy and dangerous as ever.

Lady Croft is joined this time by romantic interest and mercenary Terry Sheridan. He is played by Irishman Gerald Butler who currently teeters on the brink of stardom. Butler will soon appear in Michael Crichton's Timeline and will play the title role in the screen version of Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera. Now as I don't mind Lara Croft having a love interest it bothers me no end that he has to save her at one point. Not to be sexist but the Lara Croft I know can take care of herself and it also undermines the character's theme of female empowerment.

Christopher Barrie of "Red Dwarf" fame also returns as Croft's butler/second-in-command although he lacks the room to display his subtle humor and devotion to Lara. Shame, he's very good. So, when is "Red Dwarf" coming back anyway?

All in all this is a great action adventure flick with lots going for it. It's a sequel that bears little resemblance to the first movie - and that's a good thing. See Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. It's worth it.

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