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Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Count them. This movie has three titles. THREE TITLES. Do you think maybe the writers were trying to compensate for something, maybe? Like the lack of a comprehensible script?

Quite how Paramount Pictures ever thought that a sequel to the first Tomb Raider movie was a good idea is maybe not as hard to believe as you might first think. Despite being almost universally panned by critics, the movie went on to turn a tidy profit for the studio, so here we get a second outing for Lady Lara Croft and her hilariously disproportionate anatomy. This time, however, the studio have pulled out all the stops and invested in what they believe to be a true A-list director to take control of proceedings : Jan De Bont. However, unfortunately for the studio, they didn't get the Jan De Bont that reinvigorated the action genre with 'Speed', but instead got the Jan De Bont that instantly destroyed the franchise by making 'Speed 2 : Cruise Control' and, as a result, the audience get one of the worst films in recent memory.

The plot, if you can call it such, centres around Pandora's Box. Yes, that Pandora's Box. Apparently, it holds the key to bring certain death to the entire planet and, as you'd imagine, a very bad man is out to open it, so that he can wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world and profit from it in a manner that it never really fully explained. It falls to Lara to stop him and, as you'd expect, we're treated (subjected, more like) to a travelogue-type montage of action set-pieces taking place around the world from Shanghai to Africa as Lady Croft tries to stop this evil plan. Along the way she enlists the help of an ex-boyfriend (a bored looking Gerard Butler) who also happens to be a former Marine Commando who turned traitor on his country (what is it about posh birds and the wrong type of man?). In any case, a lot of chasing, jumping and shooting later and we end up in the 'Cradle of Life' of the title, ready for the ludicrous CGI-filled finale. Oh and there's a couple of twists thrown in along the way but, because the script is so lame to begin with, they're just tiresome when they really should be thrilling.

The problem here is that everyone involved looks bored. Angelina, a very fine actress, especially seems to be asking herself what she's doing running around in a poor attempt to make a Germaine Greer-friendly James Bond movie. It's not even particularly PC - the extended shots of Lara in her clingy, grey wet suit will do nothing for the women's lib movement, so De Bont can't even argue that he's striking a blow for Girl Power. To be fair, with De Bont at the helm, the action pieces are better paced than this movies predecessor but somebody really should have told him that you can't make a two hour movie purely out of action scenes - but that's what he tries to do here. The dialogue feels rushed, crammed with far too much exposition to help explain the plot and then we're off to the next gun fight or motorcycle chase. The relationship between Jolie and Butler is barely scratched and yet, we're expected to believe that this is the only man Croft ever truly loved before he turned on Queen and Country? The whole affair is laughable - give it twelve months and buy the DVD when it's in the bargain bucket of your local HMV. At least that way you can skip straight to the action scenes and not kid yourself that you're watching a (supposedly) serious movie



Sean G