EntertainmentNutz Feature

Lara Croft Tomb Raider:
The Cradle of Life

Release Date: July 25, 2003
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Jan de Bont
Screenwriter: Dean Geogaris
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Ciaran Hinds, Djimon Hounsou, Jon Bennett
Genre: Action, Adventure, Mystery
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for action, violence & some sensuality)
Official Website:

Plot Summary: Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie reprises her role as Lara Croft, one of the world's most celebrated action heroines ever to hit the big screen. Facing her greatest challenges yet, the intrepid tomb raider travels the world on a spectacular adventure that takes her to such exocit places as Hong Kong, Kenya, Tanzania, Greece and the Great Wall of China. Demonstrating her physical prowess and revealing her courage as never before, Lara proves that she will stop at nothing in her search for an infamous site known at "The Cradle of Life"... especially when it means she could save the world from the most unspeakable evil ever known.

Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers © 2003
- Take a pot shot but be warned.

A video game characterisation, Lara Croft, the tomb raider of this film’s title, makes a statement about what it is to be a woman. The kick-ass unobtainable and intelligent Croft as James Bond played by the athletic and attractive Angelina Jolie becomes a selling point for any woman who would like to think that being a woman looked all this easy; a kind of wish-fulfilment fantasy, yet highly superficial. It is the same for a lot of males’ liking for the Lone Ranger and Western stereotypes thrown around by Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and Gary Cooper.

Croft is no Mrs Miniver, or Little Woman, but she is to the new breed of action film star what Rambo was to the 1980s, at least for female heroes. Angelina Jolie as Croft, the British secret agent, is the newly invented heroine who wouldn’t give Bond the pleasure.

This is essentially, however, a stunt and action set-piece movie with a fresh angle – a strong female protagonist/action star - which is maybe a reaction to years of male action heroes.

"Cradle of Life" reminded me of the style of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with its exotic locations and plotting. The depth of Croft’s motive in finding an ancient artifice (a map that reveals the location of Pandora’s Box) is like Indiana Jones’ – archaeology and adventure, is the name of the game. Indeed, an idea behind the slight themes comes out of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which has become a benchmark for modern-day adventure imitators.

Croft’s nemesis is not necessarily a man as such, but men per se. She has individual foes and those that seem like good men are not, so against Croft men tend to get a bad rap. The arch-villain and Croft’s old boyfriend turn out to make a relatively strong statement about how men are the cause of the world’s problems handled in one instance with an evocative primordial sequence (with special effects). The film says that women hold an intuitive gift to nurture respect for life and Croft begins to understand and restrain her power unlike the men.

So goes this feature’s half-truth about what it means to be human, a man and a woman, co-operatively and individually. As the men are stereotypes and unrealistically portrayed and Croft is unbelievable as a character it is hard to take its bold message too seriously.

Film products have a tendency to insert obvious messages uncomfortably in-between the real attraction of blockbuster films (in Cradle of Life’s case, what does one expect from a video game caractiture?). Director Jan de Bont has made similar films which are slight on story and substance; Speed and Twister are two examples. "Cradle of Life" is something that is somewhat enjoyable on the level of adventure and spectacle, although for an action film it doesn’t hold many punches.

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