Game – Movie Review: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003)

After a solid outing in a ‘better than expected’ video-game adaption, Angelina Jolie once again picked up the dual pistols for another globe-spanning outing as Lara Croft in 2003. Called Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life, and directed by Jan de Bont, this sequel would fail to capture the success of the original but still did well overall.

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Based on the Tomb Raider video game series, The Cradle of Life utilises the mythical Pandora’s Box as its basis for its story. Where Croft teams up with an old lover called Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) and travels the globe to unravel the mystery behind the myth and find the box before Dr. Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds) can use it as a weapon of mass destruction.

It’s fantastical story, which is par for the course when it comes to Tomb Raider, but even with a near-two-hour runtime, it ends up feeling rushed. That is far from the only problem this sequel has though.

The story overall is fine, it’s not the most exciting but does result in some intense action sequences, over the top stunts, and hilarious moments of unintentional stupidity. Such as Croft riding a motorbike on a section of the great wall of China, jumping impossibly high to reach a helicopter, and ‘riding’ a shark. Just a few of the insane moments of this movie that remind you that it’s a video game adaption.

All surrounding blasé dialogue and two actors with some of the worst chemistry seen on screen. Yes, we’re talking about Angelina Jolie and Gerald Butler, who are perfectly fine individually but when sharing screen time, make for an excruciating watching experience.

Part of the problem is that Butler’s Terry is on par with Croft. Able to keep up with her, survive, and in one case, save her life. By making him her equal, it makes her seem far more ordinary. Which also means, the absurd moments where she does something unbelievable become even more implausible.

The other part of the problem is that Lara Croft doesn’t need a love interest, be it an old flame, or lost love. Yes, the first movie had elements of this, but it wasn’t as jammed in as it is here. It also makes the finale extremely predictable and lacking in emotion, even if the film tries hard to make it so. Some may enjoy the more ‘human’ side to Lara Croft, we didn’t.

What Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life ultimately does wrong is that it’s just dumb from beginning to end. The first film was dumb too, but it was fun. This is rarely fun. Even the often-excellent Ciarán Hinds can’t turn in a good villain performance as he’s stunted by the writing.

Case in point, the two comic relief characters and major players of the original movie, Hillary (Chris Barrie) and Bryce (Noah Taylor) are barely in it.

It’s a shame that we never got another Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider after this though. She really did the best she could with the part and choose to not return to the role shelving any potential third movie. Like the original games, these movies now sit as a piece of history. This sequel may not have been such a disappointment if the bar hadn’t been set higher than expected with the first movie.


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Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003)
  • The Final Score - 5/10
User Review
8.5/10 (2 votes)