LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE stars Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, who uses a cool, underwater jet ski and some scuba gear to locate a glowing mythical orb hidden in a submerged, long-lost temple dedicated to Alexander the Great. The orb is the map to the legendary Pandora’s Box, which is located deep in an African mountain known as “The Cradle of Life.” Pandora’s Box is said to have wiped out an army and is still capable of unleashing mass destruction to this day. However, the henchmen of Chen Lo, a Chinese crime lord, promptly steal the orb from Lara, planning to sell it to Dr. Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds), a former Nobel Prize-winning scientist turned bio-terrorist.
Lara learns of this foul plan from a pair of stuffy MI-6 agents, who inform her that the Queen has requested Lara’s services in stopping the bad guys. Lara responds coolly, “Well, now I have Her Majesty’s permission.” Lara must infiltrate Chen Lo’s crime lair, though, and the only person who can ably assist Lara in her mission is Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), an ex-soldier turned ruthless mercenary who happens to be her former boyfriend. Lara believes she still loves him, but trust is a definite issue as she gets permission to spring him from a scary prison. They team up to find the bad guys and prevent the certain disaster Pandora’s Box would bring to the world.
THE CRADLE OF LIFE has a terrific opening scene that moves toward Lara going under the sea on her cool scuba jet ski, finding an incredible temple and its coveted golden orb, being found and shot at by the bad guys, and escaping an underwater earthquake by hitching a ride on a shark. The action keeps going from there, with Lara riding a neon sign while dodging enemy bullets, pole-vaulting onto a helicopter, parachuting into the backseat of a Jeep, and crashing through glass doors with guns blazing.
Though the movie is based on a video game and is supposed to be a bit over-the-top, not everyone will appreciate the campy tone. One viewer comments that, “De Bont’s overwrought and underwhelming action scenes are fractured conglomerations of John Woo-style gunplay and Universal Studios stunt shows, thanks to cramped cinematography mixed with Kirk Petruccelli’s cheap-looking sets, such as a market square in Shanghai and a petrified forest that bears a strong resemblance to the Forbidden Forest from the ‘Harry Potter’ movies.”
The 2001 hit LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER is said to have made a record-breaking $48-million opening weekend and over $250 million worldwide. Directed by Jan De Bont of SPEED fame, the producers tried to make a better story, with less reliance on action scenes, and deeper characterization. Some of the film critics who had seen both movies felt that this goal was, indeed, accomplished, while others said they liked the first movie better. Ultimately, however, the characters and story may leave most viewers somewhat apathetic, though the movie may well earn back its expenses in the overseas market.
The scenery, big budget feel, robust music, and nonstop action are regrettably marred in CRADLE OF LIFE by the beginnings of an unnecessary love scene (though the actors are clothed and Lara quickly uses it as a trick to handcuff her ex-boyfriend and escape with the treasure) and an unclear worldview. In one important scene, Laura discusses the supposed “balance” of nature while talking about Pandora’s Box and the Eastern notion of “ying and yang.” This New Agey scene is mixed with Greek mythology, some evolutionary elements regarding the beginnings of life starting in Africa, and several positive references to God, in a general sense. Also, the resolution to Lara’s personal conflict with Terry is not resolved in an unqualified positive manner, although there is brief, vague discussion about her “ideals.”
The amount of foul language in THE CRADLE OF LIFE is light (there are only about seven obscenities and light profanities), but the action violence – including people getting killed with guns and knives, and the scary monsters in the Petrified Forest – is strong.
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SUMMARY: In LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE, Lara must find Pandora’s Box in Africa’s “cradle of life” before the villain unleashes unspeakable evil on the world. The movie contains some fun, but campy, action sequences, a mixed pagan worldview, and some scary scenes with monsters.
(PaPa, EvEv, B, L, VV, S, M) Mixed pagan worldview with elements of New Age, Eastern thinking when heroine talks about “balance” in nature and “ying and yang,” combined with Greek mythology, evolutionary elements regarding the beginning of life being in Africa, and positive references to God (in a general sense) and “ideals” of heroine, but a personal conflict is not resolved in an unqualified positive manner; offensive language includes about six obscenities and two light profanities; strong violence includes shootouts, martial arts fighting, stabbings, scary monsters attack, rocks fall during earthquake, temple ceiling caves in, shootings, and villain poisons man, who spits up some blood; couple kisses and embraces passionately while lying down but their tryst is interrupted; no nudity but woman in tight wetsuit and scantily clothed during passionate scene where her thighs are revealed; no alcohol or smoking; and, lying and betrayal.
GENRE: Action-Adventure Fantasy