Jarv’s Birthday Series Redux: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

I’ve struggled and struggled with this review, because the whole Lara Croft on the big screen fiasco gets me down, and I didn’t want to approach it like I would with a normal, and now happily defunct, video game series review. If I’m absolutely honest, the Tomb Raider games were never really my cup of tea, and all the original movie had going for it was the outstanding Leftfield-heavy soundtrack. Nevertheless, the damned thing made a lot of cash, as was inevitable for one of the biggest games franchises of all time, so on 22nd August 2003 the UK was privileged to have the sequel, the laughably titled Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, inflicted on it. I’m really trying hard to be open minded with this review, but I honestly hate these films for being a ridiculously easy open goal missed, and if it comes across, then I apologise in advance.

May contain Angelina Jolie with fake boobs and spoilers below.

Pointless piece of trivia time: Lara Croft wears an F Cup in the games. How do I know this? Well, at the time, the makers of the original made a big deal about how Angelina Jolie was cast, and to make her more like Lara Croft the avatar they had to pad her bust. I’m not sure how big the cup she ended up with was (Wikipedia tells me it’s a D), but it wasn’t anywhere near the size of sweater bazooka that Lara Croft actually packed. Eventually, in the early 21st Century, sanity prevailed and Eidos lowered the boob size to make her more realistic. Anyway, this farrago over boob size is indicative of why I hate these films, and most video game adaptations in general: it’s pandering to the fan group over an unnecessary and frankly irrelevant detail when they’ve basically thrown the rest of the game in the trash anyway. Who honestly cares what size English aristocrat Croft’s tits are when a) They’re over a C cup and b)Angelina Jolie is miscast in the part? Not me.

“Angelina, Babe, I’m telling youse that you just don’t need the padding. Seriously, would I lie to you?”

This should be so, so easy. The premise of the games almost beg for a film adaptation, because let’s face it, this is Indiana Jones with tits. Yet for some reason there has been two attempts at it and two rubbish films. I find it utterly incomprehensible that this is such a failure, because I honestly reckon that almost anyone could use Indy as the template and basically turn in a cracking little action adventure film. Instead, the two films are loud, obnoxious, boring, CGI riddled exercises in crass 21st Century action, and are utterly soulless and totally devoid of wit.

Insert obvious joke about riding here.

We all know how Indiana Jones works, certainly Eidos did, yet it is almost totally beyond the adapters to make a good film. This time out, the Macguffin is Pandora’s Box, which may or may not contain some terrible über-disease (I’m insanely pleased that I now know how to insert umlauts and whatnot into posts, by the by)that will eliminate all human life on the planet. To get the box, they have to find the location of the titular Cradle of Life, which will itself be revealed by a glowing ball thingummy. Unfortunately, evil scientist Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds) also wants the box. Luckily Lara can call for help from old squeeze Terry (Gerard Butler), an ex-SAS meathead with a major greed problem. So, blah de blah, our Tomb Raider cracks the clue to the cradle of life, deals with a load of terrible effects and doesn’t take  Pandora’s box. Incidentally, an annoying touch to the film is that in the cradle the laws of physics don’t work. What a terrible idea, particularly given that they do practically nothing with it.

Hur hur hur. Ball fondling.

This is a bad film. It’s full of extraneous and annoying characters (step forward Lara’s flunkies (Chris Barrie and Noah Taylor), boring and unnecessary details, while the plot is about as compelling as a paint by numbers picture. The whole film feels like an attempt to jam as many exotic locations, bombastic stunts and crap effects into its bloated run time as possible. Take, for example, the flying-squirrel suit jump thing: in my opinion this is an almost perfect encapsulation of everything that’s wrong with the film- flash location + “cool” stunt (base jumping was that year’s extreme sport of choice) + stupid dialogue= Lara accomplished absolutely nothing that she couldn’t have achieved via the more mundane means of getting a taxi. It’s an almost entirely pointless sequence.

Chicks dig guns. Fact.

I’m struggling here, because I haven’t got a lot to say as this is such an obviously bad film. Jolie and Butler are clearly miscast, which is an inevitable consequence of miscasting Jolie in the first film, and his attempts at roguish charm grate horribly. The “love” sequence feels amazingly forced, and the whole relationship almost seems to be against Croft’s character. I know she’s all rough-and-tumble, but he’s such an obvious dick, them making bloody cow eyes at each other explaining how they can never kill the other one just had me clenching my teeth in hatred. Hines, an actor I normally like, hasn’t got the moustache twirling chops to play a villain as dumb as this one, and the less said about the support, particularly Djimon Hounsou’s ethnic stereotype guide the better.

“Fly, my pretties, fly. Well, at least glide for a bit”

Then there are the effects. The “shadow guardian” sequences are risibly bad, and the cradle itself is a laughably inept piece of design. The glowing ball that responds to music looks not unlike the solar lamps outside our house in Spain, and, to sum up, for this budget at this time there’s really no excuse for this level of incompetence. Really, the effects in the film, as befitting the film as a whole, feel as if nobody gave a toss and Jolie can witter on about her “responsibility” portraying Croft as much as she likes and I’m not convinced that this was anything more than collecting a cheque for her.

Seriously, Angelina, I’m telling you that your boobs are fine. Please don’t hit me again. Particularly not there.

Overall, this is a shit film. I’m not Orangutan of Dooming it, although it is sorely tempting, for a few reasons. Firstly, it is better than the first one (small accolade that that is), secondly the physical stunts are genuinely not awful, and the soundtrack is again good (albeit nowhere near the same league as the first one). Nevertheless, it’s a piss poor piece of cinema, and in all honesty writing this review has been an absolute chore that has sapped my soul. I not only do not care in the slightest about this film, but I’ve practically bloody forgotten the damned thing and so was nearly forced to rewatch it  again to prompt my memory. Seriously, if I’d waited another 24 hours, I’d have had to redo this. As a result, I’m giving it one pogo stick sans naked Angelina Jolie out of a possible 4, and I have to say, in the name of everything sacred, I hope that nobody ever attempts another Lara Croft film.

It should be Indiana Jones with tits, yet it’s actually just tits. I’m going back to a happier place where I can forget this garbage exists, and I suggest everyone reading this does the same.

Until next time,


The Full List for the Birthday Series Redux:

  • 2011- The Skin I Live In (2.5 out of 4)
  • 2010- The Last Exorcism (2.5 out of 4)
  • 2009- Post Grad (1 out of 4)
  • 2008- The House Bunny (1 out of 4)
  • 2007- Knocked Up (1 out of 4)
  • 2006- Volver (1 out of 4)
  • 2005- Red Eye (2 out of 4)
  • 2004- Dead Clowns (Orangutan of Doom)
  • 2003- Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (1 out of 4)
  • 2002- Talk to Her
  • 2001- Jeepers Creepers
  • 2000- Gossip
  • 1999- All About My Mother
  • 1998- The X-Files
  • 1997- Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion
  • 1996- The Last Supper
  • 1995- The Usual Suspects
  • 1994- The Color of Night
  • 1993- Surf Ninjas
  • 1992- The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag
  • 1991- Pump Up the Volume
  • 1990- Wild at Heart
  • 1989- Bull Durham
  • 1988- Crossing Delancey
  • 1987- The Big Easy
  • 1986- Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
  • 1985- Better off Dead
  • 1984- Oxford Blues
  • 1983- MetalStorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn
  • 1982- The Thing
  • 1981- Honky Tonk Freeway
  • 1980- Schock
  • 1979- Rich Kids
  • 1978- Coma

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

110 responses to “Jarv’s Birthday Series Redux: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)”

  1. Droid says :

    I don’t really remember this film, apart from some underwater shenanigans. All I recall is that I thought it was substantially better than the first one. But I flat out loathed the first one, so it didn’t need to be a lot better to get that reaction.

    • Jarv says :

      Consider yourself lucky. I wish I didn’t.

      • Droid says :

        You know, I like boobs, but making Angelina Jolie (who’s got decent cans anyway) wear ridiculous padding is such a moronically immature and boneheaded thing to do. Here’s an idea. Instead of focusing on how big her funbags are, focus your efforts on creating an entertaining character, a clever, interesting story and a fun fucking movie.

      • Jarv says :

        That’s my point. Pisses me off intensely- that in a pathetic and juvenile need to pander to fans they padded her bust (which isn’t small anyway) and just turned in a cretinous set-piece driven borefest that only gives cursory nods to the games.

        Tomb Raider should be so fucking easy that it’s infuriating what they come out with.

      • Jarv says :

        I’m glad they did though- because it’s all I had to talk about, really.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        a competent writer and director can simultaneously focus on the story, characters and action plus the Juggs.

      • Jarv says :

        This was whatshisname that did Speed- I would have banked on him turning it into fun. He just failed totally.

  2. Jarv says :

    Worried about the average of this. 9 films in. Total grades handed out: 12 lousy changs.

    That means that I’m on 1 1/3 per film.

    After 10, I expect this to climb to 1.5-1.6

    After 11, it’ll be nearer 1.8-1.9.

    From memory though, I think I’m going to end up with an average of around 1.7- which isn’t too awful

  3. tombando says :

    Yeah I have never seen this nor more than half of the first one. Thought she was way miscast and the whole thing smacks of by the numbers film making.

    • Jarv says :

      She’s hopelessly miscast. There was some whinging here when she got the gig, because it should have been an English actress, apparently (as if anyone gave a fuck). She’s just not very good in the role and tries too hard with the accent at the expense of performance.

  4. Droid says :

    If they were rebooting it (which they are aren’t they?) I’d probably go for Gemma Arterton.

    Or maybe Imogen Poots.

  5. Just Pillow Talk says :

    Never saw either of these and had zero interest to begin with.

  6. koutchboom says :

    You know Jolie is the biggest problem with these films, because she sort of nails the character it’s just you realize how soul less of a person she is and renders the whole thing so vapid and empty in the end because of it.

    • Jarv says :

      I kind of get what you mean here, and sort of agree. I think it’s a bad performance from her- because she’s struggling with the accent too much, but the character is empty and vapid.

      Damned either way. Shite writing

  7. kloipy says :

    I hated the first one. Then some friends asked me to come see this one in the theater and I went along. This is one of the few movies that I’ve walked out of. I made it about 40 minutes in and just gave up. Hate these movies.

  8. Droid says :

    I’ve gone through and created a catalogue of possible birthday list candidates, if I was to do another list.

    It’s bad.

    There’s a lot of shit. A hell of a lot.

    2001 for example is a choice between Original Sin or The Princess Diaries.

    1998 is a choice between Halloween H20, Ever After, and Killer Condom.

    1996 is either Matilda or Emma.

    2007 is Becoming Jane or The Bourne Ultimatum.

    2005 is Transporter 2, Sky High, The Skeleton Key, Junebug or Stealth.

    2002 is The Master of Disguise or Full Frontal.

    The list goes on.

  9. tombando says :

    My birthday is June 3rd, maybe there’s a bevy of fun stuff there……for releases. Hmmmmm.

    • Jarv says :

      June 3rd should be OK Bando- start of the summer:

      2012- Snow White and the Huntsman
      2011- Submarine (although X-Men first ass is an option)
      2010- Splice (hehehehe)
      2009- The Hangover
      2008- SATC
      2007- Mr. Brooks.

      Actually, I take this back- it’s a pig.

  10. ThereWolf says :

    I love the games (though I haven’t played all of them – yet), but the films are a missed opportunity. They’re both instantly forgettable.

    If I’m honest, I didn’t mind Jolie in the part – I think she has a decent stab at it. But there’s nothing of interest going on around her. I can’t remember anything out of either film except for Jolie’s tits.

    No idea who to cast as an alternative. My vote would’ve been Beckinsale – but not now. Guillory is a good shout, actually…

    Good stuff, Jarv.

    • Jarv says :

      I’ve now completely forgotten it. It wasn’t the easiest film ever to review as it’s so obviously bad and so completely forgettable. Pah.

      You’re right- it is a huge missed opportunity, it should have been fun, but it’s just actually awful.

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