Film: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

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Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Director: Jan de Bont
Distributor: Paramount

In Lara Croft Tomb Raider–The Cradle of Life, Pandora’s Box is said to house the most unspeakable evil ever known, and it is hidden in Africa in an area known as “The Cradle Of Life.” Now, it is up to Lara Croft to find the infamous box before it falls into the hands of a maniacal Nobel Prize-winning scientist (Hinds), who’s intent on harnessing the evil power. Facing her greatest challenges yet, the intrepid tomb raider travels the world on a spectacular adventure that takes her to such exotic places as Hong Kong, Kenya, Tanzania, Greece and the Great Wall of China.


Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Cradle of Life is certainly better than its 2001 predecessor, but its appeal is mostly aimed at fans of the video games that inspired both movies. That pretty much leaves you with some fun but familiar action sequences, and the ever-alluring sight of Angelina Jolie (reprising her title role) as she swims, swings, kicks, shoots, flies, jet-skis, motorcycles, and free-falls her way toward saving the world, this time by making sure that a grimacing villain (Ciarán Hinds) doesn’t open Pandora’s Box (yes, the actual mythological object) and unleash a deadly plague that will “weed out” the global population. Exotic locations add to Jolie’s own coolly erotic appeal, but we’re left wondering if this franchise has anywhere else to go. —Jeff Shannon

Barnes and Noble

Angelina Jolie makes her second appearance as the supremely self-assured video game adventuress in this extravagantly produced, lightning-paced sequel, which is superior to the original in every way. This time around, Lady Croft searches for the mythical Pandora’s Box, which is said to contain a destructive force that, if unleashed, could wipe out the earth’s population in fairly short order. Having ascertained that the box actually exists in a remote region of Africa where human life is believed to have originated, Lara enlists the aid of unscrupulous adventurer Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) and begins her perilous quest. Unfolding in a succession of exotic locations, replete with outlandish death traps and hairbreadth escapes, Cradle of Life plays just like a latter-day equivalent of the old cliff-hanger movie serials. Director Jan de Bont deserves most of the credit for the film’s success; a master of the elaborately mounted action sequence, he invests his films with an internal logic that makes even the most outlandish situations seem not only possible but plausible. Refreshingly, he doesn’t rely as extensively as some filmmakers do on digital effects: Real people doing real stunts accomplish most of the breathtaking feats here. On de Bont’s watch, Croft extricates herself, with a combination of skill and luck, from such wild predicaments as an underwater face-off with a shark. Jolie plays the sexy adventuress with iron-willed resolve, straight-faced sincerity, and just a smidgeon of dry wit. Butler’s ethically challenged soldier of fortune makes an intriguing vis-à-vis for her, and Ciaran Hinds is chillingly convincing as a brilliant but sociopathic doctor who covets Pandora’s Box for himself. Wildly imaginative and genuinely exciting, Lara Croft’s second screen adventure is a rip-roaring yarn that will please thrill-seeking viewers. Ed Hulse

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