Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Lara Croft Tomb Raider Cradle of LifeI don't watch a lot of video game movies, they're generally bad, especially if you're familiar with the game series, then you're just up for disappointment. For better or worse, I've only played a few hours of the Tomb Raider series, and that was only the first few games, so I don't have a lot of expectations for another Lara Croft film. I watched the first one in college back in 2002 and have absolutely no memories of it except for Angelina Jolie.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is the original's 2003 sequel starring Angelina Jolie and Gerard Butler. Butler managed to film Tomb Raider 2 in between the now classics Reign of Fire and Timeline (I'll admit, I kind of enjoyed those two). The movie was panned by critics and performed relatively poorly at the box office.

I'm writing this as I watch the movie, as sometimes it is possible to do two things at once, especially when one of them is watching this bomb that I've had from Netflix almost two weeks.

Lara Croft just punched a shark

Yeah, the heading pretty much says it all. To climax the opening scene, Lara Croft punches a great white shark. And this was after she was holding her breath for what felt like minutes, making no attempt to actually swim towards the surface (she eventually grabs on to the shark's fin and rides him to the surface).

This is what Cradle of Life is, one obnoxious spectacle after another. In another scene, Gerard (I couldn't tell you his character's name even if it meant having to watch this movie again) and Lara jump motorcycles over each other as they race on the Great Wall of China. This is all so they can "sneak" past the bad guys and break into their hideout. I don't know how riding two very loud motorcycles while on a sneaking mission accomplishes anything, except for enlarging the plot holes.

Speaking of the motorcycles, to get to them in the middle of China, Gerard and Lara crashland this pod thing dropped from a stealth bomber to land undetected. Yes, once again they sneak in by making lots of noise. Then they walk a few hundred yards and happen upon an old friend of Lara's who is stashing a horde of weapons along with said motorbikes.

Slo-mo excessiveness

Lara Croft Tomb Raider Cradle of Life Angelina Jolie Gerard ButlerThere is so much use of slow motion in this movie I'm feeling sick. Everytime Angelina jumps, swings around, reloads, or makes out with Gerard we see everything in its four frame per second glory. I thought by 2003 the Matrix kick was over? That isn't to say that there aren't some entertaining moments. The coolest scene in the film features Gerard and Lara flying in a pair of wingsuits over Hong Kong. Not sure how tough it is to film a couple of stunt guys in suits from a helicopter above a major metropolis, but my hats off to them. My hat back on if the wingsuits were CGI'd into the scene.

As for the movie's other major special effects scene, Angelina Jolie's magical towel seems to cling to her body in all the wrong places.

This is nothing like the game

Yeah, it's been years and years since I played a Tomb Raider game, but I don't remember her running around the African plains, how is that tomb raiding? Where are the velociraptors, T-Rexs, and big cats for Lara to pump dozens of rounds into? Granted, there is some monster that looks like it was ripped straight out of Doom 3 that feasts on some of the bad guys.

I'm getting annoyed just writing about this movie. The plot is a complete mess, the protagonists are completely unlikable, and the bad guys are a confusing swarm of white guys ordering around Chinese minions. There's no surprises in the action sequences and the movie rushes from location to location. The final confrontation also features the incredibly cliche moment where you hear the gun shot go off but it's not apparent at first who actually got hit. Of course, since Lara Croft was at one end of the barrel, it should be obvious.

Don't watch this movie. If for some reason your friends are a having a Tomb Raider viewing party, for all that is good and holy skip it.