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Review published
July 30, 2003
A.J.'s Rating:  2 So-So Stars
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
Directed By:  Jan de Bont
Written By:  Steven E. de Souza and  James V. Hart  (story)
Dean Georgaris (sceenplay)
Starring:  Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Ciarán Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor,
Djimon Hounsou, Til Schweiger, Simon Yam
MPAA:  Rated PG-13 for action violence and some sensuality.
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    I didn't care for the first Tomb Raider movie.  Actually, 'didn't care for' is a bit too subtle.  I really hated the first Tomb Raider movie.  I believe my exact words were, "Tomb Raider is a big, ugly, boring mess of a film."  Okay.  Having said that, you may be wondering why I would even consider seeing its sequel, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.  Had I changed my mind about the first one?  No.  Had I been suckered in by The Cradle of Life's slick marketing campaign?  No.  Had I wandered into the wrong theatre?  Sadly, no.  The truth is, I just have a weakness for big, dumb action flicks... especially ones that feature hot chicks who know how to kick ass. 
    Yes, Angelina Jolie is back as Lara Croft!  After saving the world in the first Tomb Raider movie, she's returned to do it yet again.  Hey, that's what sequels are for!  This time, she's after the fabled Box of Pandora, within which resides incredible powers over life and death.  Of course, she's not the only one searching for it.  Others wish to use the box as a weapon against Mankind.  Lara must find the elusive artifact and guard it against those who would exploit its powers.  Oh, and by the way, she must do all of this in really tight clothing.
    So, what did I think of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life?  Well, it certainly was a big mess of a film, but it was neither ugly nor boring.  You could call that an improvement over the first Tomb Raider, though 'ugly' and 'boring' have now been replaced by 'insipid' and 'trite'.  We're talking severe lack of originality here, folks.  Basically, it's 'Tomb Raiders of the Lost Ark', except there's no tomb, no ark, and no Nazis. 
    The Cradle of Life, however, does offer much in the way of exciting adventure.  Too bad it's all been done before, in much better movies.  In fact, this movie left me with deja-vu, or, more precisely, deja-view.  I had the strange and unnerving feeling that all of its action sequences had been created by simply editing together old James Bond clips, then re-staging them with Angelina Jolie.  Weird, eh? 
    On the slightly brighter side, we have Jan de Bont's overall direction.  Though he took a typically formulatic approach, he did succeed in delivering what the screenplay required.  Speaking of the screenplay, the story, what little there is, does make a lot more sense than anything in the first movie.  Also, an honorable attempt has been made to give Lara Croft a bit more depth of character; a nice surprise in an otherwise unremarkable sequel. 
    The bottom line?  I didn't hate The Cradle of Life, but I didn't really care for it either.