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Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by director Jan De Bont. Deleted/alternate scenes (with optional Jan De Bont commentary); Featurettes: Training, Vehicles and Weapons, Stunts, Visual effects, Scoring; Gerard Butler’s screen test; Music video - Korn 'Did My Time'; Music Video - The Davey Brothers 'Heart Go Faster'; Original theatrical web site archive.

IN A Summer that has largely been dictated by sequels and special effects, Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life arrives like a screaming advertisement for all that is bad about the blockbuster season.

Jan De Bont’s movie is a noisy, pointless action flick that squanders the charisma of its leading actress and feels mind-numbingly boring as a result.

What has happened to De Bont since Speed? The Dutch director has delivered stinker after stinker of late and, yet again, fails to generate any thrills amid the mindless mayhem on show.

The Tomb Raider franchise was always going to be a plot-light affair, given that it is based on a computer game series, yet fans still need to be entertained.

But while Simon West’s first film was more of a guilty pleasure than a barnstorming action flick, the sequel is found to be lacking in almost every department, and has already under-performed at the US Box Office, where it was beaten to number one by Spy Kids 3 and made only half of the original’s opening weekend take.

The task ahead of Lara Croft this time around is to save the world from ‘the most unspeakable evil ever known’. Hence, after locating a sphere, in an underwater temple, that contains the location of the hiding place of Pandora’s Box, Croft must then travel across the globe in a bid to retrieve the item, before the box falls into the hands of Ciaran Hinds’ biological terrorist.

Teaming up with Gerard Butler’s rogue mercenary and former love interest, Terry Sheridan, Croft takes on the might of a Chinese crime syndicate, before putting her courage and loyalties to the ultimate test.

The ensuing adventure may sound like something that Indiana Jones would be proud to take on, but it pales by comparison.

For starters, the action sequences feel laboured and possess little, if any, sense of peril. Most are so clearly computer-generated that they fail to be believable, while the effects aren’t in any way special.

Angelina Jolie does what she can to up the enjoyment quota, appearing in several swimsuits and pouting as sexily as ever, but even the most charismatic of stars suffer from the flimsiest of material - and she is let down by just about everyone around her.

Sheridan’s love-interest makes for a particularly bland counterpart, particularly when forced to utter lines such as ‘you can break my wrist, but I’m still gonna kiss you’, while Hinds’ central villain lacks any sort of menace, or the physical appearance to be a worthy adversary.

At a little under two hours, the film feels like a marathon, while it doesn’t even have the good grace to poke fun at its own absurdities, taking itself way too seriously and falling flat as a result.

The producers have subsequently blamed the poor quality of Lara Croft’s latest video game for the film’s poor US performance, yet they would do well to look closer to home.

For a film which boasts the subtitle The Cradle of Life, this remains a curiously moribund affair.

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