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It would be easy to dismiss "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" as being a cross being "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and a James Bond movie except for two things. The first is that there is nothing inherently wrong with combining those two elements, even if the genesis of your character is a series of video games. The second is that despite the overwhelming plot similarities between this second Lara Croft film and the first and third Indiana Jones movies, there are actually things going to with the titular character. We are not talking profound psychological development here, but for an action film there is actually something else going on as well.
The main thing, of course, is the action, which is why the James Bond comparisons are so obvious. An earthquake shakes the Greek island of Santorini and the next thing we know Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) is on the trail of Pandora's Box. Apparently it was what brought life to Earth and inside it there is one more thing. Not hope, as most versions of the Greek myth tell us, but a plague that will wipe out all life on earth. Lara is interested in the box because her reason d'etre is that: "Everything lost is meant to be found." But evil scientist Dr. Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds), a Nobel prize winner who is apparently searching for the perfect poison, wants what is in the box. Along for the ride is Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), a charming rogue from Lara's past who might be the yin to her yang.
Alexander the Great is involved in all of this as well, but that is just exposition. As was the case with the first Tomb Raider film, Lara Croft goes globe trotting, visiting as many continents as possible before the final credits. More importantly, each and every opportunity for putting in some stunts (not to be confused with CG effects) is taken advantage of, including Lara out for a horseback ride. Director Jan de Bont ("Speed") and first time screenwriter Dean Georgaris have put together a superior sequel, and Jolie is much more comfortable in the role. Lara Croft's biggest similarity to James Bond is not all the stunts but the overwhelming sense of being cool. No matter where on the planet she finds herself, Lara always knows more than here enemies and has friends close at hand.
But beneath the glamorous adventures and close brushes with death, Lara Craft has a series of reality checks to go through in "The Cradle of Life." Part of it is professional, since there is growing reason to believe that finding Pandora's box is not a good idea. But the other part is personal, since Sheridan keeps insisting there is something between them worth pursuing. The common denominator is that both of these issues speak to Croft's feminine side. Clearly she is all woman, but much more, and being put in the position of being either a modern Pandora or an ordinary woman does not make Lady Croft happy. The endings of these two plot lines might be predictable, but at least they give the character and the movie some depth.
Speaking of being unhappy: This film was banned in China because "it damaged China's reputation, giving the impression of a country in chaos, with no government and over-run by secret societies." A movie has to deserve at least four stars for doing something like that.
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on July 28, 2003
If you liked the first film in the Tomb Raider series, "Cradle of Life" will deliver just as much fun. The sequel begins with artistocratic archeological adventuress Lady Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) diving off the coast of Greece, where a volcanic eruption has uncovered the fabled Lunar Temple. Within the underwater temple, Lara discovers a mysterious orb. As with many of her tomb raids, however, things soon go awry, and the orb falls into enemy hands.
Representatives of the British intelligence agency MI-5 recruit Lara to retrieve the orb, which Alexander the Great created as a map to Pandora's Box. MI-5 fears that a scientist known for creating biological agents will use a plague contained in Pandora's Box to create weapons of terror. Lara scoffs at MI-5's offer to send agents to assist her, and insists on an assistant of her own choosing--a possibly untrustworthy mercenary (Gerard Butler) who is her former lover. And thus the quest for the orb begins anew.
Once again, Jolie brings to Lara Croft a terrific mixture of Indiana Jones' daring and cleverness, James Bond's class and grace under fire and an acrobatic combat style, wittiness and sex appeal all her own. She makes a very appealing heroine that both men and women can enjoy. At one point, as she is checking from rural China in via cell phone, her assistant asks her what she's doing, and she coyly comments "Accessorizing" as she straps on automatic weapons and knives.
Lara is a woman used to doing things her way, as evidenced by how unimpressed she acts when the MI-5 agents tell her that the Queen requires her assistance in retrieving the orb. She aims her dry wit equally at her mercenary ex-lover and the thieves attempting to keep control of the orb.
The rapport between Gerard and Jolie is somewhat reminiscent of the repartee once seen on the silver screen between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. Although their barbs aren't quite as rapid fire as "His Girl Friday" dialogue, the tension and lingering attraction between the two add spice to the movie. The question of whether Lara really can trust Terry (Gerard) to not double-cross her, and cut a better deal with the unsavory characters seeking the orb creates additional suspense.
One disappointment in "Cradle of Life" was that the puzzles that Lara must solve to find her way to Pandora's Box aren't as complex as the puzzles in the first "Tomb Raider." Most of the puzzle work is done via computer with Lara sending images back to her assistant to crack back home. The imperative to find the orb and get to Pandora's Box wasn't quite the race against the clock involved in the first "Tomb Raider," where pieces to the triangle that controlled time could only be retrieved during certain moments in a planetary alignment. Consequently, while the need to beat the bad guys to the next step was obviously important, the clock didn't seem to be running quite as quickly.
Nevertheless, "Cradle of Life" does not disappoint with its breathtaking travelogue-style cinematography and its tricky stunts. A series of gymnastic maneuvers that Lara executes to climb atop the roof of the underwater temple and a motorcycle ride along the Great Wall of China were reminiscent of the settings in the first two Tomb Raider games. In other scenes, Lara flees from her captor among Chinese terra-cotta tomb warriors, and then rappels head first down a sheer cliff. The spiral passageways leading to the hiding place of Pandora's Box created an eerie and exotic setting.
Overall, "Cradle of Life" is a lot of fun! The love story between Lara and Terry adds a complexity to the action. The exotic settings and the kick-butt stunts add up to a sequel that's just as interesting to watch as the first. See this on the big screen. While I'm sure the DVD will be good, the sweeping views of China, Greece and Africa won't translate as well to the small screen. See it now!
0Comment29 of 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 6, 2003
While most seem to be either a real big fan of the Lara Croft Tomb Raider movies or someone who despises them, I'll take up the role of a big fan. Just as in the first movie, Angelina Jolie's rendition of Lara Croft is absolutely wonderful. This second film, in what is undoubtedly going to be many, is another great action flick that is enjoyable entertainment from the beginning to the end.
While I only have a vague, passing familiarity with the video games, I can say, without a doubt, that this and the first movie make an enormously enjoyable leap from the pc screen to the silver screen.
Angelina Jolie's performance as Lara Croft, to include her impeccable British accent, is nothing less than stunning. I find it absolutely wonderful to see such a beautiful and agile actress take on the "James Bond" type role and handle it with such seeming ease. While these films won't win her any Oscars, they will indelibly mark her among the tops in action film stars. Gerard Butler's performance as Terry Sheridan makes another great performance by him after his leading role in "Attila."
Director, Jan de Bont deserves a great amount of praise for his direction of this box office smash, something of which he's quite familiar with having other directing credits to include "Speed" and "Twister." The score for this film greatly enhances the entire theatrical experience of the film.
The Premise:
Tomb Raider, Lara Croft finds herself on another mission to the save the world as she discovers an orb, which is the map to the Pandora's Box. Unfortunately for her, another tomb raider shows up when she discovers it and steals it from her, nearly killing her in the process. This other tomb raider happens to be working for Dr. Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds) who happens to be the worlds leading manufacturer of biological weapons.
Lara is soon visited by the British secret service, MI-6 and she finds herself on a mission to save the world, sanctioned by the Queen herself. All she needs now is a little help from an old "friend" in Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), who happens to be a former SAS Major, turned mercenary and who is now stuck in a Russian prison. The British government agrees to secure his freedom to help her.
What follows from there is nothing less than another outstanding Lara Croft Tomb Raider action film that is highly enjoyable and I most certainly look forward to future endeavors in this film series. {ssintrepid}
Special Features:
- Commentary by director Jan de Bont
- Deleted/Alternate scenes
- Featurettes:
*Training
*Vehicles and Weapons
*Stunts
*Visual Effects
*Scoring
- Gerard Butler's Screen Test
-Music Videos:
*Korn "Did My Time"
*The Davey Brothers "Heart Go Faster"
-Original Theatrical Web Site Archive
11 comment26 of 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 27, 2008
Love this movie and decided to find it on blu ray. however, it doesnt exist as a US version. you must buy the EU or European version. The Audio is German and English is the Second Option. It works perfectly fine on my PS3 and there are no problems playing it. Don't let the German written summary fool you, it works on any US Version PS3. Just make sure you pick the audio language as English instead of the default German.
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on December 5, 2003
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is a rare sequel that is better than the ones that came before it. In the sequel, Lara must find Pandora's Box using a orb that will direct her where to go. All that it known about its whereabouts is that it is somewhere in the Cradle of Life, where mankind began. As well, this isn't the Pandora's Box of Greek mythology, but instead something that will unleash a weapon that could wipe out humanity if found. Also interested in finding it is a biological weapons expert/salesman who sees the possibilities it possesses. This is an action-packed movie that never slows down from beginning to end. That is the strength of the movie overall although there is some semblance of a real plot here. This is an enjoyable movie that will keep you interested throughout.
Once again, Angelina Jolie reprises the role of globe-trotting adventurer Lara Croft. Besides being incredibly gorgeous in the role, she is very believable as she performs many of her own stunts. Gerard Butler plays Terry Anderson, an ex-Royal Marine gone bad who must now work with Lara to retrieve Pandora's Box. Ciaran Hinds is good as the villain also trying to retrieve the box. Djimon Hunsou is also very good in a small role. The DVD offers widescreen presentation, 6 deleted scenes, an alternate ending, director commentary, five featurettes about the movie, and two music videos. This is by no means a great movie, but it is at least worth a watch if for nothing else than to see Angelina Jolie. For an exciting movie that never slows down from beginning to end, check out Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.
0Comment6 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 6, 2004
I was trying to rent the Tomb Raider One dvd from Blockbuster before going to see the second Lara Croft.
But no luck, all Tomb Raider rental were all out for the weekend, and eventually, I just cann't wait. Saw it on Saturday at Coliseum. My impression for the first Lara Croft movie wasn't that big hit. So I didn't bring much expectation into the threater for Croft 2. Surprisely, it's a pretty good movie, very exciting all the way to the ending. No boring nor 'talking-too-much' scenes. The plot is good, fighting is fabulous, sound effect is incredible! Only a small tiny disappointment was the character played by Simon Yam didn't last long. Overall, highly recommended. Definitely good fun for 2 hours.
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on July 11, 2005
One up on the last one. Unlike regular sequels where the second is worse than the first & the third is worse than the second etc... the Tomb Raider franchisees have gone against the tide.

Pandora's Box is an intriguing subject just like the illuminati were in the first film, like its predecessor the cradle of life has no shortage of exotic locations, myths & human paranoia, it's a shame they did not open the Box.

As I said in my previous review Angelina Jolie was born to play that part of Lara Croft. From the first scene onwards you can't help but mistake the voluptuous cyber chic for Jolie. Something else caught my eye that I never realized in the first part; her accent; she does a pretty damn good impression of a sophisticated Brit. Having lived in the U.K. myself I can tell the difference.

This movie does not disappoint at all in being a pop-corn flick. With all the pre-requisites of a big budget action/adventure movie, i.e. dim-witted yet attitudinal villains, death defying stunts, tense & exciting action scenes, futuristic gadgets & an insignificant romantic segment, this movie does not fail to entertain.

Verdict: scrupulously enjoyable. A great movie for Tomb Raider/Angelina Jolie fans. Jolie is the true living form of the Cyber divinity known as Lara Croft (even though her padded bra is quite obvious at times). The only disappointment is not being able to see inside Pandora's Box.

Rating: 4 stars for being better than the first.
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on September 19, 2003
I've seen this movie three times the first day it came out because I love it so much! It's great to watch Angelina Jolie play Lara Croft and solve ancient puzzles!
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on October 12, 2003
IF you didn't go to see this movie, than you are crazy! I love this movie to the point of where i wouldn't have minded sitting in the movie theater chair and watching it over and over! She is slick, sexy, and those curves! When they say "people actually fly in this movie," trust me THEY DO. The amazing affects, the visuals, the way everything is pieced together, and action from begining to end. Too good! It's defenetly better than the first movie, and it combines sexy Angelina, with action that never stops. The movie begins good, ends good, and I am hoping for a third. A lot of people didn't seem to favor this movie, and I just can't comprehend that, because this movie takes it to an extreme. Doing things that you don't see in a normal movie, and ANGELINA, you just can't go wrong with that. Love the movie, and want to see it over and over again!
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on July 25, 2003
LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE is a good sequel. I'd say it's no better or worse than the first TOMB RAIDER movie. I think most fans will think I'm crazy and say this a FAR better than Tomb 1. And, in some obvious regards, it is much better. The editing and cinematography is A-list. The score is better. Even Angie is better (more on this later). But this may lead one to conclude the movie is better directed. It's not. Jan de Bont is a hack and it shows. This movie suffers from all the same faults as the first. The pacing is clunky, and some of the action sequences are very awkward and confusing. Add to that a very poor villain. Casting is the job of a director, and this movie is not as well cast as it could have been -- outside of our lead, of course.
Speaking of our lead...SHE IS ON FIRE! Angelina Jolie IS Lara Croft. She is a much better Lara in this movie. She's frighteningly intense and beautiful and surprisingly violent. She's like a dangerous, wild animal ready to lunge. The amazing Ms Jolie absolutely holds this movie above the waterline (as she did the first movie), helped, like I said, by superior cinematography and editing. We get lots and lots of Angie close-ups, and watching her wild eyes is one of the great joys of watching this movie. In fact, she IS the reason to see this movie.
Like I said, the action is very hit and miss. There is more hard action (shoot-outs, breaking glass, fist-fights) in this movie than Tomb 1. It's more James Bond, less Raiders, and I'm not sure I like that. I like seeing my Lara romp around tombs and jungles, not shooting it out inside a Hong Kong bio-lab. The quiet moments are all quite good. But Angie's male partner is awkwardly shoehorned into the plot. I really don't know why he's in this movie, except to provide a little... tension (and maybe that's reason enough). But there is one very surprising beat between them during the climax, which, momentarily, took the movie beyond expectations for me.
Is this a review? I don't know. I'm still processing. I liked the movie. I really did. I'll see it again. I can't wait to get the DVD. But it is definitely "Tomb Raider 2" and don't expect it to rise above whatever expectations you have when you hear that title.
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