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

Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life DVD cover art


Written by: Dean Georgaris, based on a story by Steven E. deSouza and James V. Hart
Directed by: Jan de Bont
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Ciarán Hinds, Chris Barrie, and Noah Taylor


  • Running audio commentary with director de Bont
  • Deleted/Alternate scenes (with optional commentary by de Bont)
  • 5 Featurettes
  • Gerard Butler’s Screen Test
  • Music Videos
    • Korn: “Did My Time”
    • The Davey Brothers: “Heart Go Faster”
  • Original Theatrical Website Archive

Released by: Paramount
Region: 1
Rating: PG-13
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Rent it.

[ad#longpost]Lara Croft (Jolie) is doing her usual thing. She’s raiding various tombs. Hence her occupation’s title. She is searching out one of the lost temples of Alexander the Great. However, it turns out that someone else is hot on her trail, letting her do all the dirty work in finding it. They are after something that resides in that temple which turns out to be the map to one of the world’s most dangerous artifacts: Pandora’s Box. If it falls into the wrong hands, it could unleash a plague the likes of which the world has never seen. Unfortunately, the guy who gets the map, a man named Jonathan Reiss (Hinds), has those wrong hands. Croft enlists the help of a convict named Terry Sheridan (Butler) to help her recover this map and find Pandora’s Box which resides in the Cradle of Life. This is not to be confused with the Elton John song of the similar name.

Well, this second film in the Tomb Raider franchise was not as good as the first. The biggest problem this time around is that it is completely anti-climactic. There is almost no payoff to the story at all. Without giving too much away, the thing that you keep expecting to happen (you know, the source of suspense in this whole deal), doesn’t happen. On the positive side, the action sequences that allowed us to get to the lack of climax were done very well and flowed from one to the other with ease.

Jolie simply is Lara Croft. I know that this has been talked about before, but not only is her character complete, but her accent is very nearly perfect. The other problem with this movie is that they tried to create a love interest for Croft in the Sheridan character, but it just doesn’t work. What essentially amounted to a one night stand and a very vague history between these two is not enough to create a believable ongoing relationship. As such, the payoff for this subplot just didn’t work. That having been said, if you watch this movie without looking at it with this kind of detail–i.e., half of your brain turned off–you will probably have a good time.

This special edition DVD has pretty much everything that you could expect. First up, there’s a commentary track by the director, which is actually pretty good. de Bont doesn’t waste any of his time with trivial fluff and doesn’t talk you through what’s going on the screen (a huge pet peeve), instead he focuses on his take on the film and how he put it all together. It’s just the right blend of behind the scenes storytelling and tech stuff.

The featurette is pretty good, in that it doesn’t feel like one of those that is put together for one of the cable channels in the hopes of increasing ticket sales. There are interviews with the cast and crew, but they don’t spend a lot of time boosting the egos of their co-stars. It doesn’t go into a lot of depth, but it is worth watching at least once.

After you get past these two special features, there’s really not a lot left on the disc. There is the screen test for Gerard Butler, but this really amounts to nothing more than his scene from the movie with the cameras trained solely on him while Jolie reads her lines for him. Other than that, there’s just not a lot to it. I have always said that it would have been more interesting to see the screen tests of the actors who didn’t get the role to see if you agreed with the director’s choice.

The website archive can only be accessed on a PC with a DVD-ROM drive. What you are presented with is a look at the original film website which is now residing on these DVDs. You have access to all of the original downloads (screensavers, wallpapers, etc.) as well as all of the other stuff promoting the film. This is a good idea for a DVD addition and I wish it would be considered for just about every movie that’s got a half-decent website. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the website was way cool and was easy to navigate.

So, if you’ve get an urge to watch Angelina Jolie in skin tight clothing, shooting guns and basically kicking ass, you should rent this one, but I just don’t think that this DVD warrants a purchase. The film isn’t strong enough, mostly, and while the DVD tries hard–it can’t pick up the slack.

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