Reviewer's Rating 1 out of 5  
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)
12 Contains moderate action violence and fantasy horror

As incoherent, dumb and stupefyingly bland as its woebegone predecessor, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is as bad as cinephile cynics expected and studio cynics deserve.

Doubt's benefit is usually given to filmmakers - the belief that however poor the product, they tried their damndest to make it zing. But the 'brains' behind this 'blockbuster' (as if anyone's going to queue for it) have suffered a collective aneurism: it's as though they wanted to make a terrible film.

What else explains the decision to entrust the fragile franchise to Jan De Bont, whose artistc output peaked with Speed and Twister (heaven help us) before Speed 2: Cruise Control and - spit now - The Haunting established him as auteur of the abysmal.

Still, he'd have to work very, very hard to trash a decent script. Not something he must have worried about while reading the screenplay - ostensibly by first-timer Dean Georgaris, though he may (and should) want to blame rewriters.

Lips on legs Angelina Jolie again essays the pneumatic heroine, whose mission: interminable is to stop modern-day Dr Mengele Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds) from discovering ancient world-threatening MacGuffin Pandora's Box.

Teamed with roguish love interest Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), she globetrots through a series of impotent action sequences - taking in Greece, Tanzania, Kenya, China and Hong Kong - like a pumped-up Judith Chalmers.

The inept 'spectacular' set-pieces are rotated with expositionary gobbledegook. Nothing has the decency to be either amusingly or offensively awful - the iconic videogame character has been butchered, turned into a vapid wannabe 007, whose adventures at best recall all-time Bond low A View to a Kill.

Not everything lost is meant to be found, comments Lara, ruefully. And not everything made is meant to be watched. The Cradle of Life simply robs you of yours.

End Credits

Director: Jan De Bont

Writer: Dean Georgaris

Stars: Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Ciarán Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor

Genre: Action, Adventure

Length: 117 minutes

Cinema: 21 August 2003

Country: USA

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