Of all the video game adaptations in the world, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was one of the better ones. Okay, maybe ‘better’ is too strong a word. More entertaining, at least. There’s no doubting that Tomb Raider was bad, but somehow, it didn’t matter. It was fun either way. It went the way of most video game movies and received a critical bashing, yet somehow still made loads of money.
A sequel was released three years later, and was a financial success. Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is the prime example of a film banking on a name and a face. In this case, Tomb Raider, and Angelina Jolie. That wouldn’t be so bad, except the film is an utter mess that does not have a coherent plot, any redeemable dialogue, and, possibly it’s worst crime, just isn’t fun.
Lara Croft (Jolie) opens the film by splashing her companions with water from a jet ski before doing a ridiculous flip. So far, so silly. She and her three Greek friends (with one of them being a direct rip-off of the father from My Big Fat Greek Wedding) go underwater to find a temple left by Alexander the Great, supposedly containing some incredible treasure. Once there, they find many riches and begin to celebrate. Among the treasures is a glowing orb with a pattern resembling a code etched into it.
Lara finds this orb; but it is stolen by the crime lord Chen Lo. Lara only just manages to escape with a strange medallion, opting to sit there a look at it while letting her two friends die. Our heroine, ladies and gentlemen! Once home, Lara is called by MI6 to track down Pandora’s Box, a dangerous artefact being hunted by scientist turned bio-terroist Jonathan Reiss (CiarÃ¡n Hinds).
The plot is confusing and terribly paced, with some horrendous drag in the middle, and some really blatant plot-holes. The acting is near-universally bad. Gerard Butler delivers one of his worst performances I think I’ve ever seen (which is really saying something). CiarÃ¡n Hinds plays a terribly written villain compared to the first movie, where the bad guy took pleasure in being bad. Plus, Daniel Craig’s wonderful scenery-chewing was a joy to watch. This guy is just a slimy little sleaze ball who you to punch in the face. Angelina Jolie is the exception, as it is clear she really was born to play Lara Croft. However, the writing makes her an unlikeable person, with her slearly just acting for herself and just having a smug and superior feel about her. She’s just annoying.
I do have some faint praise for this film. The action sequences are very well put together. Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life was directed by Jan de Bont, director of Speed (although that also means he directed Speed 2). It’s clear he knows how to put together a good action scene. Even with that, though, it’s just not fun somehow. Maybe because we’re stuck with an irritating brat for two hours, maybe because the villain has the air of a 5 year old boy who found his Dad’s gun and is pointing it at people, not knowing he’s way in over his head, or maybe because it stars Gerard Butler.
Either way, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is better than some video game adaptations, but then again, that’s like saying being slapped is better than being hit with a baseball bat. Plus, it’s only just behind The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 in the overly long name department. That’s not a good thing!