Film Reviews

LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE

By • Jul 25th, 2003 •

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Paramount Pictures In association with Mutual Film Co. & BBC Tele-Munchen Toho-Towa presents a Lawrence Gordon / Lloyd Levin production in association with Eidos Interactive Ltd.
Running time — 117 minutes / MPAA rating: PG-13

While Angelina Jolie enthralled and baffled the public with constant pronouncements about the sexual prowess of SLING BLADE’s Billy Bob Thornton, she has not been paired in films with an actor matching her own sexual charisma. Finally, the TR2 filmmakers found the right male co-star to ignite Jolie and give Lara Croft a much needed sexual identity. Scottish actor Gerard Butler has strong sex appeal, masculine likeability, and a rakish charm that survives an incomprehensible story.

Lady Lara Croft (Jolie & Stunt Doubles) goes looking for the legendary Pandora’s Box. If opened it will cause the end of Life as we know it and, you also know, it will not happen. This leaves a key plot point already solved. No mystery here.

Rather concisely, here is the gist of the story I was able to dope out: Croft locates a gold orb off the Greek coast. Plump bioterrorist Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds) has his henchmen steal the gold orb that is needed to decipher the location of Pandora’s Box. Croft’s two team members are killed in a majestic underwater cathedral that housed the orb. Croft, now tasked by the British government to get the orb back, must first secure the help of her former boyfriend Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler). Only he knows how to get her inside a secret Chinese thug clan that knows something about where Pandora’s Box and the orb are. Sheridan is keeping fit in a Siberian prison due to a past indiscretion. There’s bad blood, but good sex, between them. Croft makes him a very generous offer: Freedom, $5 million in cash, a clean slate, and a new identity. But no sex.

This being a sequel everything is bigger, broader, and more expensive. The sets and exotic locations are indeed breathtaking. The stunt work is more extravagant. Jolie is gorgeous and ravishing on a horse. However, Jolie’s oversized jacket does not necessarily hide her stunt double. I would prefer Croft show more intellectual cunning and fanciful stick fighting than to keep heroically pretending the ponytailed stunt double is actually Jolie. As with most of these movie tales, the computer geeks back at the castle, or in the van, solve all the pesky snags of espionage, forced entry, map reading, and location scouting.

For some bizarre psychological reason that continues to defy the known Laws of Nature, our culture needs to see women punch men out and beat them to a pulp. To satisfy this fantasy of overt female empowerment, TR2 generously fits the programme unlike CHARLIE’S ANGELS 2: FULL THROTTLE. Thanks to the deft hand of director Jan DeBont (SPEED), Lara Croft is marching forward as the premier female Sex & Action Adventure star (unless The Wachowski Brothers lift Trinity out of the Matrix to do battle on her own). DeBont gives Jolie full range and time to express herself as Croft, especially in her scenes with Butler. Jolie has also modified Croft’s arch English accent to a subtle echo yet has retained Croft’s aristocratic demeanor.

My thoughts today on displaying the gruesome death photos of Uday and Qusay Hussein brings to mind the exploits of Assyrian conqueror Assurnasirpal II:

“…inscribed on the entrance to a temple in the royal residence of Assurnasirpal II, [in a prominent public location for all to see] relates the awesome vengeance of the kind against the rebellious city of Suru, and we are made to understand, as Assurnasirpal intended, that revolt was a mistake: ‘…I built a pillar over against his city gate, and I flayed all the chief men who had revolted, and I covered the pillar with their skins; some I walled up within the pillar, some I impaled upon the pillar on stakes, and others I bound to stakes round about the pillar; many within the border of my own land I flayed, and I spread their skins upon the walls, and I cut off the limbs of the officers, of the royal officers who had rebelled. Ahiababa I took to Nineveh, I flayed him, I spread his skin upon the wall of Nineveh…’ “. From The Origins of War From the Stone Age to Alexander the Great by Arthur Ferrill.


Cast:
Lara Croft: Angelina Jolie
Terry Sheridan: Gerard Butler
Bryce: Noah Taylor
Jonathan Reiss: Ciaran Hinds
Kosa: Djimon Hounsou
Sean: Til Schweiger
Hillary: Christopher Barrie
Chen Lo: Simon Yam

Credits:
Director: Jan De Bont
Screenwriter: Dean Georgaris
Story by: Steven E. De Souza, James V. Hart
Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin
Executive producer: Jeremy Heath-Smith
Director of photography: David Tattersall
Production designer: Kirk M. Petruccelli
Music: Alan Silvestri
Co-producer: Louis A. Stroller
Costume designer: Lindy Hemming
Editor: Michael Kahn

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