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Alan Silvestri Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Cradle of Life Review

Soundtrack. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Techno loops, synthetic drum sequences and reverb are laid on with a trowel.

Jack Smith 2003

Pneumatic, kick-boxing archaeologist Lara Croft returns to save the world from unspeakable evils in the second film of the franchise. Cradle of Life is set to an original musical score by Alan Silvestri. But, given the film's heavy reliance on visuals of the über-babe's aerobic antics, can the music alone make the cradle rock?

Silvestri's portfolio - Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future, Castaway, What Women Want, Father of the Bride - is best described as prolific rather than profound. And it is plurality that characterizes the score for The Cradle of Life, a muddle of musics from lots of different film genres.

Traditional action movie orchestral sound is played off throughout against the digital and synthetic elements of sci-fi. Techno loops, synthetic drum sequences and reverb are laid on with a trowel. On tracks such as Shark Attack the effect is horror flick angst, whilst "I Need Terry Sheridan" is so affectedly avant-garde and scratchy as to suggest something has gone badly wrong with your CD player.

The ethnic musical cues are fussy and diffuse. Attempting to keep pace with the film's rapid changes of continent, the score switches from native Asian flutes and wobbly strings to digital tribal beats for Kenya and Tanzania, but forfeits narrative development and stylistic consistency.

The score functions better, which is not to say well, in its straightforward action sequences. Flower Pagoda Battle is a disco adventure number loaded with brassy fanfares and pistoning drums. "Journey to the Cradle of Life" and "The Cradle of Life" bring on the heavenly choirs and strings for mystic and revelatory sequences.

But the strength of individual sequences is dissipated by the lack of any strong unifying theme. And, weighing in at an hour, The Cradle of Life is way too long. More judicious editing might have created a stronger narrative whole.

Unstructured, unoriginal and unmemorable, this is definitely closer to the grave than the cradle.

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