V.G. Movies #17: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


Last time, we talked just a little about the origins of Lara Croft and the games. However, I stopped discussing the games at the sixth, wherein I mentioned how it bombed and brought in a new production company with a note I'd continue that story later. It's now "later."

As I stated before, Lara Croft the character was actually killed off in the fourth installment. The fifth game was mainly done in flashback. But then game into production a sixth game entitled Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness that was to revive the character and begin a brand new trilogy of games. This didn't happen, however. Why? Core Design, the production company behind the game series, wanted to put the game out early in correspondence with the second feature film. But it wasn't a finished game; it wasn't ready to be released. It was still full of bugs, but they wanted to rush it to onto the shelves just a month or so prior to the release of the new film.

The game, of course, was met with negative reviews and shone a poor light on the franchise. A senior executive of the production company, who also acted as an executive producer on the film, actually resigned days after the game was released. And all of this negative attention is at least used partially to blame for the failure of the film. Is the movie actually bad, or did it just receive negative attention because it was a bad year for the franchise? I have a sinking suspicion it's the former... (but let's find out!)...


I remember seeing this in theater... and I don't remember a damn thing about it. But it does have Gerard Butler, and it's not called 300... so I know the quality is already peaking at mediocre before even getting into it. Oh joy. This time we follow Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) as she gets caught up in a scheme to stop a man named Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds) from finding Pandora's Box and releasing a deadly plague upon the world. To help her, she calls upon an old cohort named Terry (Gerard Butler). Together, they travel the globe trying to stop Reiss and get to the box first.

It's amazing how this movie took all the action, characterization, and CGI and made it all infinitely better. Oh wait, you mean this isn't opposite day? In that case... what the hell, man? Let's start with the action. I read a snippet of a review that said the first movie was "dumb fun" but this one was "just dumb." I can see where they're coming from that. Sure the first movie had some rough CGI monsters here and there, but on the whole, at least the action was entertaining and at least somewhat plausible in design. Here you have a scene where Croft cuts her arm to summon a horribly CGI'd shark, punches it in the face to show it who's boss, then grabs its fin so that it can swim her up to the surface before she drowns, allowing it to swim away without coming after her again. And that's in the first 15 minutes. The movie is just silly. Whereas the first movie had cool scenes like the bungie ballet fight, this one has... base jumping... and jumping a motorcycle off the Great Wall of China. And did I mention punching a shark in the face so it'll give you a ride to the surface?

While on the subject, the CGI didn't get any better. Hell, I could make an argument it actually got worse. At least the first film used it sparingly. I mean, the shark... the acid goo pool at the end (and the burning body)... the monsters around the third act... etc. I could forgive it if the action was good enough to take my mind off it, but as I said... it wasn't. And I could take my mind off the poor action if I give a crap about the characters. But I don't. Yet again, the best character is Croft's underused butler, who has even less to do in this film, sadly. I couldn't care less about anyone else.

To be fair, it's not terrible. Its worst crime is that it's just so... boring. It's no wonder I couldn't remember anything about it from when I first saw it. I just finished watching it a few minutes ago and I already forgot almost the entire movie. It isn't fun or clever. It just... exists. And as I've said before, that's pretty much the worst crime a movie can make. Either make it good or bad. Dull is just... unforgivable.

Feed Me, Seymour!

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