Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Lara has changed. No longer a three-dimensional computer game heroine, with enhanced breasts, she has emerged as the next James Bond. Angelina Jolie is more self-assured, totally in touch with her physicality and attuned to Lara's character, not as cartoon, but flesh-and-blood. Also, her English accent passes the jolly hockey sticks, Ascot educated, hooray test.

Dutch director Jan de Bont made his name with Speed and Twister - let's forget Speed 2 and The Haunting - establishing a reputation as the master of action. The look and feel of The Cradle Of Life is in a different class to Lara Croft Tomb Raider. The stunts match, if not surpass, Die Another Day and the varied locations in Hong Kong, China, Greece, Tanzania and Kenya are breathtaking.

The plot is acceptably ludicrous, when before it was plain daft. Ciaran Hinds makes a more believable villain than Iain Glen, even though the motives of Dr Jonathan Reiss, the power-crazed scientist, is less easy to comprehend. He's searching for Pandora's Box, which contains a virus, capable of destroying every living thing on earth, in order to sell it to the highest bidder - Al'kieda?

Glasgow-born Gerard Butler, who started life as a lawyer before realising that actors get to kiss the girls, plays Terry Sheridan, a renegade Marine-turned-mercenary, languishing in a Kazakhstan jail, before Lara orchestrates his release. This role, filed under the heading Hunky Designer Stubble Sex Object (with pecs), could have been played by Colin Farrell, before he conquered Hollywood, or any of those "real men" from Eastern Europe.

Lara and Terry become a double act, except she can't entirely trust him, which gives the relationship an edge. Although he has been used to making his own decisions, she is definitely on top. Both are leaders, both lone operators, both unattached. Hey! How's about... Stop it right there!

And the story? An earthquake in Greece uncovers an underwater temple, built by Alexander the Great, housing a golden orb, which contains the secret of where The Cradle Of Life is situated. Not only was this man's nursery at the dawn of time, but is the hiding place of Pandora's Box, floating in a lake of acid.

The only thing missing is Indiana Jones - except he wouldn't keep up.

Reviewed on: 21 Aug 2003
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Cradle Of Life packshot
Action sequel sees adventurer Croft on a quest to save Pandora's Box.
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Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Dean Georgaris

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Ciaran Hinds, Noah Taylor, Djimon Hounsou, Christopher Barrie, Til Schweiger

Year: 2003

Runtime: 130 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US/Germany/Japan/UK/Netherlands

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If you like this, try:

Die Another Day
Lara Croft Tomb Raider