Ho-hum, Lara Saves The World

Category: Tomb Raider 2 Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: September 28, 2003 | Publication: Sun Herald (Sydney) | Author: Rob Lowing
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Rated: M.
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Ciaran Hinds, Noah Taylor.
Critic's warning: Language, violence, adult themes.
Critic's rating: 4/10.

FOR most businesses, the old adage that "the second mouse always gets the cheese" applies.

Except, it seems, in Hollywood, which can't, or won't, learn from experience.

For every X-Men 2 there is a dodgy Bad Boys II and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life.

The faults are the same: careless knock offs accompanied by the nasty ringing of cash registers.

To be fair, Cradle Of Life aims at the late teen and young adult players of the Lara Croft video game, which inspired the 2001 film. But that's no excuse for a dumb plot.

As the Indiana Jones movies proved, good action-adventures play to every generation. Cradle Of Life's boring chase for an ancient weapon would not even qualify for the Young Indiana Jones TV series.

The story opens with an earthquake along the Greek coast, which reveals the legendary, waterlogged Lunar Temple.

Using deductions which make no sense whatsoever, daredevil archaeologist Lady Lara Croft (Jolie) beats her rivals and dives deep to the temple.

There, she finds a golden globe, reputedly the map to Pandora's Box, which contains enough evil to destroy the world. But in a brutal attack by thugs, the globe is stolen.

The British government suspects that it has been nicked by a bio-weapons expert (Hinds) who plans to sell it to the highest bidder.

Lara is ordered to retrieve the globe by recruiting the ultimate commando, Terry Sheridan (Butler), a disgraced Royal Marine who is languishing in a Kazakhstan prison. But can he be trusted to help?

Money has definitely been thrown at the globe-trotting Cradle Of Life, which stages stunts in Greece, Africa and Asia.

The hardware is of acceptable junior James Bond standard. There are swish motorbikes and nifty "body glider" suits, which allow Lara and Terry to free-fall across Hong Kong's skyline.

But the special effects range from the adequate to the woeful, with late-entry spectral foes who just look silly.

The sultry stars are the only reason to watch this. American Jolie again achieves a respectable English accent, although you wish the role better stretched the talents of the Girl, Interrupted Oscar winner.

Action fans won't be pleased to hear that the real thrills come from Lara's steamy smooches with Terry.

Butler delivers another ruggedly convincing performance after his Attila The Hun miniseries.

A grey-looking Taylor noodles unhappily as Lara's techno-geek pal.

Director Jan de Bont drags the film to a dull finish. He is hardly the man for sequels: his career still hasn't recovered from Speed 2: Cruise Control .

All of which makes the first, vivacious Lara Croft movie look like Shakespeare.

The sequel's only innovation is shedding Lara's video-game-sized breasts and reducing the giggle factor by emphasising Jolie's natural curves.

Copyright 2003 John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd