Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle Of Life

I would hardly call Simon West’s 2001 attempt at transferring video game’s most infamous boobs to the silver screen a tremendous success, but it had a few things going for it I suppose…
Chief among them was Angelina Jolie’s fun performance as gamedom’s most famous heroine which saw her swinging, shooting and sassing her way into being a credible action star in her own right and soon enough, plans were announced that Lara Croft would continue Tomb Raiding in another adventure.
They needn’t have bothered as this second stab at estrogen based action adventure is, simply put, probably the worst that the legendarily shitty genre has to offer with the finished movie being as fun as enduring a thick fingered prostate exam.

While raiding an underwater tomb (y’know, for variety) off the coast of Greece, Lara comes in contact with The Orb, a glowing macguffin that can lead the way to something or other… actually, I CAN remember what it leads to, I’m just too embarrassed to type it – it leads to the Cradle Of Life which, thanks to Alexander The Great, holds Pandora’s Box, which legends say hold the most deadly virus in all of history. While you let that chunk of bull crap – which someone got PAID to come up with, at least I write this shit for free – flop around in your frontal lobe like a fish having an orgasm, Croft bounces over to China in pursuit of the stolen Orb on the orders of MI5 to recruit ex-agent Terry Sheridan out of a Chinese prison which proves to be suprisingly easy considering how reluctant China is to just simply give over prisoners.
Both Lara and the notoriously untrustworthy Terry have a past together (because of course they do) and were once lovers and the two strike an uneasy partnership based mostly on horrendously awful flirting in order to stop a virus-obsessed villain from… getting another virus? I mean, how many different virus’ does one man need?
After a string of frankly avoidable action sequences which takes them from The Great Wall Of China (which Lara rides a fucking motorcycle along it and all for a measly short cut – what self respecting archeologist would use one of the seven wonders of the world as a sodding off-ramp?) to Africa, we remain stubbornly unexcited all the way to the tension free ending. Will you be grabbed by the resolution to Lara and Terry’s relationship? Will you be thrilled by yet another ending set in a cave?
Spoiler alert: I wouldn’t particularly count on it…

The movie was directed by Jan De Bont who diligently continues in his brave quest to remind the world that the excellent direction of action classic Speed was nothing more than an incredible fluke and somehow makes a budget of 90 million look like a knock off version you’d see at 3 in the morning on the Sy-fy Channel. The CGI is stunningly bad with Jolie punching a shark that looks as threatening as a bath toy and a late in the movie assault by eyeless, cave troll-like monsters that are somehow rendered worse than PS2 graphics…
Even the stunts that are real are poorly shot (how do you manage to make wing suits boring Jan, HOW!?) and the film worryingly relies a lot on that awful strobe slow motion effect when they neglected to film in slow motion on the day. Of course this only brings up the question as to why the man that was the cinematographer of Die Hard wouldn’t think to shoot a stunt at a more suitable frame rate – but I digress…
Jolie still looks like she’s having fun (she bloody well should be with trips to Greece, China and Africa thrown in) but you can tell that not even she can run enough polish on this turd and not even her entertaining cut glass english accent (library is pronounced “librarah” for example) and an array of figure hugging outfits tailor made to make the minds (and underwear) of teenage boys explode can even begin to save this turkey.
The rest of the cast flounder with dialogue mainly of the limp banter variety but predictably making the most of this as the permanently smirking merc, Terry, is a pre-300 Gerard Butler who distractingly plays every scene sweaty and out of breath as if he’s just swung by are pulling some reps in the gym. His tiresome back and forths with Jolie prove that the screenwriters have blatantly confused cool with unbearably smug and every single character is utterly insufferable – but he’s obviously having fun, even if we’re not, so… yay him, I guess.
I’m genuinely unaware of what emotions we’re supposed to be feeling at the climax when Terry’s true colours come out and Lara has to choose whether to shoot him after he illogicaly goes from being a bit of a prick to becoming a massive psychotic arsehole out of nowhere and for no apparent reason but I’m fairly sure apathy wasn’t what the filmmakers were shooting for.
Usually the villains are a lifeline to a bit of fun overacting in this sort of thing but Ciarán Hinds sneers every single line into oblivion and to the extent that you openly wonder why he isn’t wearing a monocle and a twisty moustache and the less said about Til Schwieger’s henchmen the better.

It’s rare that a movie of this scale has utterly nothing positive to show for it and while we do get to experience the curious vision of Red Dwarf’s Chris Barrie sparring with Angeline Jolie while dressed in Kendo attire, the movie was enough to burry Croft herself in a deep dark tomb that wasn’t raided again for another 15 years…

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