One word can explain why I own today’s movie. Boredom. You see, years ago I was bored and wandering around Blockbuster (man I miss those days) and looking for something new to watch/buy used. I don’t know why I grabbed this because the first movie wasn’t exactly a must see movie for me, but I decided to give it a shot. Yeh, I had a problem with impulse buying that then….ok, I still have a problem but I am doing much better. Anyways, with as much money as the first movie made, it was only a matter of time that a sequel would come out. Which brings us to today’s movie, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life.
The plot: When a sudden earthquake occurs off the coast of Satorini Island, Greece, Lara Croft believes it has uncovered the Luna Temple, a treasure house built by Alexander the Great that had been lost for centuries. Using underwater sleds, Lara and her two dive assistants find the temple and when Lara attempts to remove a gold emblem from a statue of Alexander, it causes an orb on top of an archway to start shining. Lara climbs up and retrieves the orb, but some men, working for a Chinese crime lord called Chen Lo, kill the two assistants and attack Lara, causing her to drop the orb. As his men continue to attack Lara, Chen grabs the orb and medallion, then leaves as the temple begins to break apart. Lara manages to escape the temple and, after luring a nearby shark into helping her swim to the surface, she activates her emergency beacon, and is rescued by Hillary and Bryce. Jonathan Reiss, a scientist turned bio-terrorist, is holding a secret meeting on his plane where, after showing an example of his work by killing a traitor in the group, he tells them he will have a new disease ready to unleash on the world, but they must each pay $100 million to receive it. MI6 approaches Lara and inform him about Chen Lo and Reiss’ connection, and Lara realizes that Reiss plans to use the orb to discover Pandora’s Box, which contains a deadly plague with no cure. MI6 offers two of their men but Lara refuses them, claiming she needs the help of Terry Sheridan, a mercenary that has connections to Chen Lo’s organization, the Shay-Ling. With no choice left, MI6 agrees to release Terry from the maximum security prison that he is being held, with the promise of clearing his record and getting a new identity. Lara and Terry enter China and make their way towards Chen Lo’s base, where they are soon captured by the Shay-Ling. Lara makes an offer to Chen Lo for the orb but when he refuses, she is forced to fight him and after beating him, she grabs the medallion from him then has him tell her where the orb is. Lara is then forced to kill him after he tries to shoot her in the back. Lara and Terry then fight their way out of the Shay-Ling base and head towards Shanghai. In Shanghai, Lara and Terry breakup a meeting between Reiss and the remaining Shay-Ling, but they are unable to keep Reiss from obtaining the orb, though Lara does manage to place a tracking mechanism on the crate. Tracking the crate to Hong Kong, Lara and Terry break into Reiss’ lab, hidden inside a shopping center, and manage to take out Reiss’ men guarding the orb. Seeing that Reiss almost had the orb decoded, Lara sends the images to Bryce and Hillary, but ends up being captured by Reiss. When the computer finishes decoding the orb, Reiss orders his men to kill Lara but Terry saves her, and Lara is able to retrieve the orb, before shooting the computers and she and Terry run from the lab. They make their way to the roof of the building and use a pair of wing suits to jump off the building and escape from Reiss’ men. Lara and Terry book passage on a ship, but believing her might be tempted to make the wrong choice, Lara handcuffs Terry to the bed and leaves. She gets in touch with Bryce and he finishes decoding the orb and transmits the sound file to Lara, which she plays and the orb shows a location in Africa. Lara tells Bryce to contact a friend named Kosa and have him meet Lara, but unknown to Lara, Reiss and his men were holdiong Bryce and Hillary hostage and head to Africa to intercept her. Lara and Kosa head towards Kilimanjaro, where they speak with a tribe that lives on top of a mountain called the Mountain of God. When Lara shows them the orb, the chief tells her to leave it and go but when she explains that men are coming to use the box and she is trying to prevent it from happening, they reluctantly tell her where the Cradle of Life is and give her 20 men to guide her. As they head towards the Cradle of Life, they are attacked by Reiss’ men and though the warriors fight as hard as they can, Lara surrenders in order to prevent them from getting slaughtered. Reiss threatens to kill Hillary and Bryce unless Lara leads him to the Crater of Life and she reluctantly agrees, and leads Reiss and his men to the crater as night falls. Meanwhile, Terry had found out where Lara was heading and manages to rescue Hillary and Bryce before following after Lara. In the crater, the group encounters the Shadow Guardians, humanoid creatures that attack anything that moves, which make short work of the soldiers but Lara uses the orb to open the Cradle of Life, sucking her in and Reiss jumps in after her. They find Pandora’s Box floating in a pool of black acid and Reiss tries to force Lara to grab it but she fights back. Meanwhile, Terry has followed Lara into the Cradle and he manages to get Pandora’s Box, but before he can leave, he notices Lara and Reiss fighting. When Reiss threatens to shoot Lara, Terry shouts out to them, distracting Reiss long enough for Lara to throw him into the pool of acid. Lara thanks Terry and the two kiss but when Terry goes to retrieve the box, Lara warns him to put it back but Terry refuses, claiming the box as his reward so Lara is forced to shoot him in order to keep him from taking the box. Grabbing the box, Lara starts to give in to temptation and begins to open it, but then stops and places it back into the acid pool. Leaving the Cradle of Life, she is greeted by Kosa and a group of warriors, who take her back to the village, where she gives the medallion to the chief before leaving with Kosa, Bryce, and Hillary.
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life did slightly better among the critics but was still viewed unfavorably, holding a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics once again praised Angelina Jolie’s performance but many cited the film as a poor James Bond/Indiana Jones rip-off. The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning over $156 million off a $95 million budget. The studio blamed this on the poor performance of the, at the time, latest game in the Tomb Raider series, which was rushed into release before the movie came out and was full of glitches. Still, there were plans for a third movie but those were squashed when Angelina said she would not reprise the character again.
Ok, this wasn’t just the same thing in a new, pretty wrapper. This was a bit better than the first movie. The acting was good, particularly Ciaran Hinds (Reiss) who made an excellent bad guy. The story was actually better than the previous movie and they did have a bit of character development for Lara in the movie. The action scenes were fairly over the top, but you kind of expect that from a video game based movie. I think the funniest aspect of the movie was that in the first movie, Angelina Jolie wore padded to make her look more like the video game character but in this one, she went without the padding because they wanted Lara to look more “realistic”. All this aside, it is still a somewhat fun movie to watch in a ridiculous sort of way.
Rating: 3 out of 5