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"Lara Croft Tomb Raider--The Cradle of Life"

Directed by Jan de Bont.
Written by Dean Georgaris.
Starring Angelina Jolie and Gerard Butler. 
Release Year:  2003 
Review Date:  8/1/03


Now, I gave the first “Tomb Raider” film a Rental.  Everything about it sucked except for Angelina Jolie, who was absolutely dead-on perfect as video game heroine Lara Croft--she had the attitude, the look, the accent and the action chops down pat.  Too bad that everything happening around her was so atrocious:  capturing almost nothing that made the video games so good, the filmmakers of the first film effort seemed to be content having Jolie in the film and forgot to add any interesting story elements or logical, in my favorite scene from the first film, there Croft was driving through the jungle with a GPS tracker that apparently had the location of fucking temples of the gods programmed in for good measure.  So hilarious.

This time around, it looked like a good idea on paper--let’s team up Lara with a crazy Irish partner named Terry Sheridan (talk about an Irish name--I guess Paddy McIrishman was taken) and make them travel all over the world in the search for Pandora’s Box.  There will be plenty of locations that the adventurous Croft will be able to scout out while also shooting a lot of bad guys with her trademark twin pistols.  There are a couple of problems here:

A) Instead of making Sheridan (played by Gerard Butler) just a normal partner, they had to make Sheridan a ROMANTIC partner, so when not helping Croft take out baddies, he’s constantly hitting on her.  There is no chemistry between the two, and by none, I mean zero.

B) Although she usually is searching through ancient, remote locations in the video games, this time around she only does this twice--at the VERY beginning and at the VERY end.  In between, all manner of ridiculous action pieces take place in...uh, a fucking Hong Kong shopping mall, a lab, a bad guy hideout, the open plains of Africa, and an outdoor pagoda.  Not what I would call “tombs” by any stretch of the imagination.

Talk about “all dressed up and nowhere to go”--this film breaks the bank in locations this summer by a mile.  Get this:  this production, directed by “Speed” maestro Jan de Bont, filmed ON LOCATION in England, Hong Kong, Kenya and Greece.  And, because all of the principals appear in all of those locations, that means that this production was probably in the $100 million range, including Jolie’s salary and a large number of special effects.  I will grant that the film’s visuals are often spectacular; scenes of Hong Kong by night or Kenya by day are very cool because they are quite rare in American film productions.  Too bad the action happening on screen is so bad, boring or unnecessary; somebody’s going to start pushing for one-location shoots on the third movie, should they be so lucky, because some of this shit is just blah.

There are a couple of decent shootouts, and Jolie is once again very strong in the role of Croft.  I don’t fault her for taking this part, either; I can’t imagine how tough it is for actresses to find work as a gun-toting, strong-willed action star that does many of her own stunts, and Lara Croft is probably the only major female action role this year not called Trinity.  But, outside of these high points, the second installment of the “Tomb Raider” series is mostly dogshit made worse by the fact that nothing from the first film’s lengthy list of faults is improved upon.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09