Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Year: 2003
Director: Jan De Bont
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Noah Taylor, Djimon Honsou
I had almost no respect left for anyone involved in this movie. After being the superstar DOP destined for blockbuster directorial duties, Jan De Bont's output became more maligned by film fans on every project since Twister, and as such this is what he was reduced to - the only job left in Hollywood any studio would give him was the helm of a sequel to a notoriously reviled (albeit profitable) popcorn action movie.

And since Angelina Jolie hit superstardom, she's given up the edgy character roles that proved she could act like Girl, Interrupted and Pushing Tin for middle of the road movies like Life or Something Like It and the woeful Tomb Raider .

Lastly, there's Noah Taylor, one of the best Australian actors of his generation, in some of the most memorable films to come from this country. It was bad enough he played the comic sidekick second fiddle to Lara Croft in the risible original, but in an interview in Australian Empire to promote it, he said that Shine (his best role along with The Year My Voice Broke) wasn't really 'his cup of tea'.

Despite my dislike of everyone involved, enough people obviously liked the original film for the studio to think a sequel was warranted because of the goldmine in the franchise somewhere they only had to find and tap into.

Once again, Jolie plays the video game character adventurer, in a role (and premise) that's really nothing more than a poor cousin to Indiana Jones but with big tits.

The plot is the same as in the original - she takes her charms, signature sidearms and fighting ability up against a megalomaniacal madman in search of a long lost trinket that can fill the world with evil etc etc.

The good news is that while this is a brainless action movie, at least it's up to the hoped for standard. Why the original was so bad was hard to put a finger on, there was just... something missing. And whatever it was, they've found it this time and put enough of it into the film to make it at least entertaining in a blockbuster way. There was a similar pattern in the X Men movies, maybe the only difference was a bit more money spent this time.

The creature thingies during the climax were particularly well done, but you're never allowed to forget it's purely fantasy when Lara sees off an angry great white shark by punching it on the snout.

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