Retro Review: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Back in 2001, I was dismayed and almost heart-broken to see the character of Lara Croft brutalized into a fake, choppy and often repulsive film. The filmmakers lost the magic that was Lara Croft. Her long history that gamers have been entranced with for years wasn’t even touched. This brings me to the 2003 film incarnation of Lara Croft.

The film opens with Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) finding a lost temple of Alexander the Great. The underwater temple holds a crystal orb or the first key in a race to uncover the secrets of the Cradle of Life or the final resting place of the legendary, Pandora’s Box. When she comes across the orb, Lara is ambushed. Lara fights a losing battle and watches the temple crumble in upon itself and her adversaries, including a Chinese mercenary named Chen Yo (Simon Lam), make off with the orb. Now she is forced to track the orb.

The orb’s trail finds Lara forcing to team-up with a disgraced MI-6 agent named Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) and divert the selling of the orb to a bio-weapons dealer, Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds). Unleashing the power of Pandora’s Box by a madman like Reiss could spell the end of the world. Can Lara and Terry put aside their differences and their past long enough to stop Reiss? What is locked inside Pandora’s Box? Or do we want to know?

From the opening sequence and the underwater temple sets, I knew this wasn’t going to be anything like the previous Tomb Raider film. The action was precise, exciting and amplified Jolie in her character. Jolie was the best part of the first film and in this film she builds on the character of Lara Croft. I liked seeing Lara interacting with Terry and how there was always a mutual understanding between her butler and techno-geek.

I liked the fact that this film felt more like a soaring adventure film than a shoot-out at the old arcade.

This was the kind of film I wanted the filmmakers to make in the first film. I wanted more of Lara and more of who she is. I also wanted a grand quest in the vein of Indiana Jones. I also wanted to see some of the Jolie charisma to meld with the character instead of Jolie always being compared to the arcade icon. The film delivered all these in spades.

There are some really cheesy moments in the film but one tends to look past them when you can see all the improvements over its predecessor. One of the cheesiest moments involves Lara and shark. I won’t spoil it but why was it even in the film. I also found that there a couple scenes that dragged away from the pace.

One thing I also really liked about the film was the character played by Gerard Butler. Butler so embraced this ex-spy that we are never supposed to trust. I liked that the film made us question his every move to the bitter end. He was the perfect character to bring new life into the characterization of Lara. Butler is great as the character and I really look forward to see more from this actor. I still can’t believe this is the same guy who played Dracula in “Dracula 2000”. Look for him next in the adaptation of Michael Crichton’s “Timeline” starring Paul Walker.

The spirit of the epic adventurer Lara Croft and the strong woman role model is all intact in the sequel. This is how I envisioned her to be on the screen.

(3.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer

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