Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle Of Life (2003)

Directed by
Disappointing sequel
Reviewed by Simon on 2003-05-25

What are the qualifications for becoming a Hollywood script writer I wonder? Certainly the ability to tell an interesting, coherent or intelligent story isn't one of them. But hey, it's an action movie right... aren't the scripts for action movies *supposed* to be stupid? The law of the movie world seems to be that the bigger the budget the more cheese and corn the script should contain, and the less narrative logic.

I actually liked the first Tomb Raider movie a fair bit - it was great to see Lara Croft in an autonomous adventure, and Angelina Jolie fit the character perfectly - smart, sexy, athletic and tough. Jolie is still a joy to watch in the sequel, but in every other respect the sequel is inferior to the original (much as every successive version of the game has been worse than the last - poor Lara has been in steady decline since she was born in 1995). The biggest problem with the film was that the producers/writers evidently didn't have confidence in Lara/Jolie to carry the film by herself, so they brought in the totally unnecessary love interest/conflict/side-kick and gave half of the film to him. The big Scottish guy wasn't bad at all, but the film would have been 5 times better if it'd just focussed on Lara raiding tombs and kicking ass. If they really needed a major male character, they should have focussed on a better and more developed villain - the charismatic Simon Yam should have been the main bad guy, and given a lot more screen time and motivation (and the chance to deliver at least some of his lines in Cantonese, since his English isn't too hot).

Anyway, script and character issues aside for the moment, what matters most in a summer action film is spectacle, and the film delivers some impressive action moments. The shoot-out & escape from the underwater temple near the beginning is unfortunately the best it gets though (though one has to wonder how the atmosphere in a temple that had been underwater for 2000+ years was perfectly breathable?). The action is generally pretty generic though - nothing ever comes close to the cool or excitement of the bungee-rope scenes of the first film. Actually the best moments of the film are those when it most resembles the (first) game - Lara Croft using her athletic moves to scale walls and statues. That's the sort of thing they should concentrate on in the next film, assuming that one gets made.