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Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

(aka: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life)



Reviews and Comments

I suppose Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is, for me, what some term a guilty pleasure. It isn't a good movie, and I can't recommend it, but I found much to love. I liked the character and Jolie's performance, the exotic absurdity, and the video game logic to the mysteries of the story.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life has only scant traces of that video game logic, replaced as it is by the "logic" of poorly conceived action movies. I liked it less than its predecessor.

But, alas, I still have that soft spot for Lara Croft. Jolie does the role beautifully: she's confident and competent without being invulnerable, composed in the face of danger, and, above all, classy. She immerses herself so completely in the character that, although I am quite familiar with her in other films, I never once saw Angelina Jolie, only Lara Croft. With as strong a character and performance like that leading the way, I was ready and willing to follow her through anything: for example, what ultimately turned out to be a pretty bad movie.

I don't demand that stories like this make a whole lot of sense. When you've got ancient crypts, lost treasures, sprawling mansions, and you're on the trail of badguys that seek the ruination of the world, there's only so much objective sense it can make. What is important is that it make some kind of internal sense. The original did, in the sense that a video game is internally consistent, but this one does not. Too many times, a lapse in logic threw me out of the story, most notably at a point where Lara Croft gains enough of an upper hand that she could have gone home and called it a day, and the world would have been safe -- it's only when she persists in her quest to beat the badguys that they learn how to re-enter the race.

I could probably forgive all that too, except for the editing. I despise flashy directors that mistakenly believe an action movie can be made more exciting by cutting a lot. This hypothesis couldn't be more untrue. Cuts are unnatural. Every time a film cuts, there's an amount of disorientation and frequently a threat to the suspension of our disbelief. A single cut would have to be unfortunately placed to make a significant impact all on its own, but when cuts happen so quickly that we can't absorb one image before another takes its place, it throws us out of the action. This movie is not the worst offender in this sense, but it does have a number of scenes that are cut so much the impact is lost. The worst is a scene where Lara rides on horseback while shooting at targets that appear from behind trees. It's cut so furiously that it's little more than visual noise. I figured all this was to disguise the fact that Angelina Jolie hadn't done her own riding. I discovered later that she had. Too bad her stuntwork cannot be appreciated in the final form. The same problem is true of several of the combat scenes, which is too bad for the choreographers whose work is not in evidence.

But, yes, I followed Lara through it all. It wasn't as rewarding an experience as the first movie, and if I couldn't recommend that one, I certainly can't recommend this one. But I'm glad I saw it.

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