Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Posted on July 24, 2003 at 6:41 am

C+
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
Profanity: A couple of bad words
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Intense peril, sometimes graphic, characters killed
Diversity Issues: Strong, brave female lead
Date Released to Theaters: 2003

This movie has a better plot, better characters, and better acting than the first one, but let’s be honest about it — no one is going to see this movie for the plot, characters, and acting. The audience for this movie wants to see the movie version of the popular computer game, with Angelina Jolie in very tight clothes decking, kicking, and shooting as many bad guys as possible. All of that is there, and the distractions of plot, character, and acting barely get in the way.

Jolie plays Lady Lara Croft, archeologist/adventurer. Off the coast of San Torini, she discovers an ancient sunken library. Just as she reaches for a glowing yellow orb, the bad guys arrive. When a shot fired by one of them grazes Lara, the blood attracts a shark. Lara punches the shark in the nose and hops on board to ride it back up to the surface of the ocean. That’s the kind of movie this is.

It turns out that the orb is a map to Pandora’s Box. In the myth, Pandora was a curious woman who could not resist opening the box she was told must stay closed. Inside was all the trouble in the world. This Pandora’s Box contains virulent biological agents that will unleash a plague on the world. Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds), a former Nobel Prize winner turned international dealer in biological weapons, wants what’s in the box and Lara, at the request of the Queen, wants to stop him.

In order to do that, she has to get Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), her one-time love-turned mercenary, out of prison. Together, they go after Reiss and the orb in exotic locations, with exotic equipment and modes of transportation, all over the world.

Director Jan de Bont (“Twister,” “Speed”) knows how to stage action, and there are some genuine thrills, especially when Lara and Terry don flying suits that have them soaring through the air like Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Jolie is always fun to watch. But the computer-game origins of the movie are replicated in the staged level-style series of action sequences, and that removes any narrative momentum.

Parents should know that the movie has a lot of violence and peril, some very graphic. Characters are hurt and killed. There are a couple of bad words, and some passionate kisses and sexual references.

Families who see this movie should talk about how Lara decides what is important to her.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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