Posts Tagged ‘Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life’


main_image-35343Anyone who saw Lara Croft: Tomb Raider will agree that it didn’t make a great deal of sense. That apparently didn’t matter to the people who flocked to the multi-plex to see Angelina Jolie run in slow motion and hang upside down while fighting bad guys. Enough people agreed that trifles like plot and believability were secondary to seeing Jolie battling a frantic robot that a sequel was commissioned.

I’m tickled to report that Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life not only has one of the longest titles of the summer, but also has a story that almost makes sense! Not that we demand much from these movies. The story is simply a peg to hang Ms Jolie’s bikini on while temples crash, motorcycles rev and people defy gravity, flying through the air as Lara Croft punches a shark. It’s a popcorn movie, not Dostoyevsky, although at times this movie feels as long as a Russian novel.

Here’s the story as I remember it… Somewhere between diving in a skintight silver wetsuit and riding side-saddle on her English country estate archeologist Croft learns that a shining golden globe – which she had in her possession, then lost – is actually a map to the mysterious Cradle of Life where the famous Pandora’s Box is said to be hidden. While wearing a natty kimono Croft learns that former Nobel Prize winner and “modern day Dr. Mengele” Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds), has the orb and is close to uncovering its secret. She must don a skin-tight motorcycle jacket and find him, before he discovers the deadly secret of Pandora’s Box and sells its poison to the highest bidder.

For support Lara entices an old flame named Gerrard (Terry Butler), currently doing time in a Siberian ultra-high security prison for crimes against the state. Looking fetching in a white fur trimmed winter coat she offers him freedom and a great deal of money to help her. Thus begins their whirlwind world tour of destruction as the dynamic duo travel to Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Africa in their attempt to recover the globe and unlock its secrets.

Dutch director Jan de Bont (Speed, Twister) makes good use of the scenery – both Ms Jolie and the international locales – showcasing the beauty and the danger of each. A nicely staged gun battle involves inventive use of a neon sign and a pole vault to a helicopter; another scene shows the couple “flying” over the skyline of Shanghai. In both cases de Bont actually shows us the action. If Charlie’s Angels director McG had shot those scenes we would have seen a glimpse of the helicopter blade, a quick cut of someone flying through the air and heard the whoosh of a bullet as it cut through the air. My major complaint with recent action sequences is that we don’t actually get to see anything. It’s all fast cuts and loud techno music. Jan de Bont avoids that trap, allowing the scenes to play out, and while sometimes they drag on a bit too long, at least we know what we are looking at.

Angelina Jolie plays Lara Croft like a Barbi doll come to life, batteries, but no heart included. She is powerful, sexy, agile, adventurous and no-nonsense (as Gerrard learns the hard way), but like the videogame character she is based on, doesn’t seem to have any emotional life under the pretty façade. Unlike that other famous cinematic archaeologist, the quirky Indiana Jones, there is no vulnerability to Croft at all.

Jolie’s beautiful face is a blank slate, expressionless for most of the film with only the occasional arching of an eyebrow to remind us that a real person lives beneath her perfect skin. Perhaps in the foreseeable Lara Croft Tomb Raider 3: The Saga Continues In More Exotic Lands she will transcend her computer generated origins, and we’ll get a glimpse of the real person behind that raised eyebrow.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is like its name, a bit too long, and kind of silly, but a vast improvement on its predecessor.

METRO GERARD BUTLER COLUMN by Richard Crouse Metro Canada In Focus Wednesday December 5, 2012

THE UGLY TRUTHAre there five more terrifying words in the English language than, “New Gerard Butler Romantic Comedy”? Butler is a good actor who makes lots of bad movies but his track record in the rom com department is particularly dire.

Critics hate these movies, calling the handsome Scottish actor’s attempts at mixing love and comedy, “instantly grating,” and “embarrassingly limited.” Only Katherine Heigl (Butler’s co-star in The Ugly Truth, called “ugly-ass crap” by Rolling Stone) has a worse track record.

This weekend he stars in Playing for Keeps the true story of a former sports star who pulls his life together through romance and, let’s hope, comedy.

The reviews have yet to come in for Playing for Keeps, but let’s hope it breaks his rom com track record and delivers some mushy, funny fun.

Rather than dwell on the bad stuff, in this column I’ll look at his more interesting performances—and no, that Jennifer Aniston movie won’t be included!

2002 was the year Butler became famous with big roles in Reign of Fire and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, opposite Angelina Jolie. Then he developed into a crossover star, taking roles in everything from sci fi flicks (Timeline), to musicals (The Phantom of the Opera) and even a rendering of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf (Beowulf & Grendel).

The film that turned him into a heartthrob, but one with serious dramatic chops, was Dear Frankie, a four hankie tearjerker about a single mother who resorts to trickery to keep the memory of her late husband alive in her son’s mind.

It was his next movie, however, that made him (and his meticulously crafted six-pack) a superstar. In 300 he’s King Leonidas, a Spartan who led three hundred soldiers against the might of the Persian army. It’s the film equivalent of a heavy metal concert—loud, brutal and completely uncompromising—and it made him an action hero.

A few years ago the website Gawker placed Butler on movie star probation, calling him a “professional bad decision maker” alongside Cuba Gooding Jr and John Travolta but Hollywood hasn’t been all bad for Butler.

Post 300 highlights include playing a charming mobster in the violent Guy Ritchie flick RocknRolla, voicing Stoick the Vast, the chieftain of a Viking tribe in the animated How to Train Your Dragon and Coriolanus, a modern dress version of a 1608 play by William Shakespeare.