By: Jacob Bloodee Jacob Babcock
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life” was released in 2003 as a follow up to the previous 2001 film. Angelina Jolie again stars in the titular role to perfection. I know she is the subject of controversy with the Pitt/kids situation but the truth is none of us know them personally so I find it moronic that so much judgement is put on Jolie as Pitt is the more popular/trendy one lately.
Enough about that! Angelina Jolie is a goddess and one of my very favorite actresses. The TR flicks were arguably the height of her sex appeal for most (though I may even prefer her more currently) and while she is again drop dead stunning in this, she’s also just a great on screen performer as she exudes charisma and charm so easily and even in this role emoting enough to keep you engaged. This time she is trying to prevent Reiss (the overlooked but always consistent Ciarán Hinds) from getting ahold of the mythic Pandora’s box and unleashing it for his own admittedly cliche bad guy motivations.
She is joined by old “acquaintance” Terry Sheridan played by one of my all time favorite actors Gerard Butler in an early prominent role. Jolie and Butler genuinely have some really nice and kinetic chemistry together as partners and they play on their history well enough. I far preferred this pairing to Daniel Craig’s role in the first film, which was just kind of there and wooden. Noah Taylor and Chris Barnie return with less screen time but they do have a funny scene towards the end. The action is on the over the top but usually exciting level of the first though I’d argue it was a little more refined in this one with better shoot outs (minus the upside down bungee scene) and certainly superior fight scenes particularly when Jolie faces off against a secondary baddie played by Simon Yam. The action is throughout with some really solid set pieces, terrific stunt work and camera work that was better than others in the genre during the 2000s. I’d hate myself if I forgot to mention a bit of a supernatural/horror moment during the climax that I loved as a lifelong horror fan and it still fit within the movie as the old games tapped into that sort of horror/fantasy element too.
I also want to praise the score composed by Alan Silvestri, more memorable than some. I should also mention there is an alternate ending that changes the context of Butlers characters direction a bit that is better on paper and is a superior character arc but the theatrical version they went with does have a leg up when it comes to how the scene was executed and the general dramatics and performances. Overall while I liked the first, I do put this sequel above it as the action is more consistent with an overall better cast.