Back Shelf Beauties
by Willie Waffle

Laura Croft Tomb Raider:
The Cradle of Life

Angelina Jolie in a bikini will be the highlight of the film for many in the audience, but it all goes downhill from there. While Tomb Raider has proven to be an action packed video game, the movie doesn't have the same liveliness. It's dull.

Jolie is back as Croft - a bodacious British babe archeologist searching for Alexander the Great's fabled Luna Temple. Legend claims that the temple, which was buried during a horrible volcano years ago, holds riches and treasure beyond your wildest dreams, but Croft and her crew are attacked when they find it and a strange orb hidden within the structure.

It turns out that the attackers work for Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds)- the world's leading manufacturer of biological weapons. Of course, Bryce doesn't have any scruples, so he doesn't care who buys these weapons of mass destruction. With the orb, he hopes to find Pandora's Box and unleash hell on earth, while making a tidy profit on top of it all.

Will Croft be able to find the orb and save the world?

For all its bluster, The Cradle of Life is an emotionally flat movie that doesn't involve the audience. Director Jan de Bont doesn't do much more than show us some lifeless action scenes and flimsily string them together with little plot or character development. Writer Dean Georgaris throws in a secondary plot about a love story, but it's never developed effectively and doesn't seem to have any point. Outside of that, the rest of the story is overly simplistic and needs more stuff going on.

While Jolie is a major star and a great acting talent, she doesn't do much with this role other than collect the fat paycheck. I don't even think she did many of her own fight scenes, which leads to some choppy editing to cover up her lack of presence. Georgaris doesn't help her with some fun one-liners or snappy dialogue that could have made the character more likable, so the only reason the audience is supposed to admire her and root for her is because we think she's sexy. While that might be enough for most, it isn't enough for me (when it comes to movies.  I root for sexy women in every other aspect of my life and hope to soon have one in some aspect of my life. Very soon, I hope).

Georgaris should do a better job of humanizing Croft and show us more of her mental skill. This would flesh out the character and help build a bond between her and the audience. Without that bond, we don't get the roller coaster ride of emotion that would make us excited as the climax approaches. Georgaris also could have used her assistants Hillary (Chris Barrie) and Bryce (Noah Taylor) for some comedic effect, but fails to do so.

Someone call 911, because Jolie's career is in desperate need of some resuscitation, and the end result would be worthwhile. She can act, if given the right role. Grade: D+

Copyright 2003 - WaffleMovies.com