DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
International DVDs
Video Games

Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Anime Talk
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds

Sponsored Links

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life
Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life
Paramount // PG-13 // November 18, 2003
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 13, 2003 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Printer Friendly
The Movie:

There's a moment early on in "Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" where Angelina Jolie, returning as the title character, is stuck underwater after a narrow escape. What does she do? Cut herself, punch a passing shark right in the nose and then ride the creature to the surface. In a way similar to much of the first "Tomb Raider" film, on some level I enjoyed the ridiculousness of it.

While certainly nothing groundbreaking, the first picture was good, mindless fun. Jolie obviously felt at home in the role of the athletic, sassy Croft, as well. While the picture was a good mix of Indiana Jones and James Bond, the reviews were dismissive or worse. The second film drops director Simon West, who brought a flashy, quick-cut mentality to the first film, and brings in Jan De Bont, the cinematographer-turned-director who has helmed such films as "Speed" and "Twister", and provided cinematography for "Die Hard" and "Hunt for Red October". With De Bont comes a group of highly talented crew members, including editor Michael Kahn (see most of Steven Spielberg's recent films), cinematographer David Tattersall (see the latest "Star Wars" films) and some returning ones, including Steve Boeddeker, who was the sound designer on the first film.

De Bont's questionable recent history aside, all of the cards seemed lined up to make for a sequel that took this series in a fresh, new direction. Unfortunately, it doesn't make it that far, and the blame seems mostly due to a lackluster screenplay. Angelina Jolie returns to the role of Lara Croft and, once again, she seems perfect in the role, even though the screenplay provides less opportunities for humor this time around.

Early in the film, as Croft is about to take an orb she's found in an underwater tomb, its taken away in a fight that takes place while the tomb happens to be falling apart. After a spot of research, Croft figures that the orb happens to be the map to Pandora's box. So, it's Croft and ex-agent/ex-boyfriend Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) versus mad scientist Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds) in a race to the box, with Croft trying to keep the devasation the box could unleash from occuring.

The filmmakers wanted a slightly darker Croft for the second movie, and have made this sequel more serious and a bit darker. Yet, there's a balance that has to be attained for this kind of movie between sleek entertainment and enough drama to keep the audience involved. "Cradle of Life", as ridiculous as it can be at times, makes the mistake of taking this material too seriously (John Woo or Tony Scott could've made it work, but De Bont doesn't.) The film's few instances of humor are welcome; the more sarcastic humor could be found in abundance in the original film is greatly missed. There's other issues, too: some of the action sequences are quite good, but others are presented in a very straightforward manner - while many action scenes in films today are presented with too much in the way of rapid-fire editing and cinematography tricks, some of the action here goes too far the other way, with little style or energy. A couple of action moments seem unnecessary and thrown in because there hadn't been action in the past several minutes. Some of the film's visual effects could also use a bit of work, especially a couple of blue screen shots.

Still, Jolie is - as always - enjoyable to watch. Probably the only real choice to play this character, she once again does as best she can with the material and the physicality required to pull it off. Although "Cradle of Life" isn't a terrible film, it's just too bad that this film never really became the series I think it was capable of being, as there's a great character - very capably played by Jolie - at the core.


VIDEO: Paramount presents "Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life" in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a really excellent transfer from Paramount, with only very few minor issues. Sharpness and detail are first-rate throughout the film, with no noticable instances of softness and very good shadow detail.

Edge enhancement is kept to a bare minimum throughout the show, while the print looked pristine, aside from a little bit of grain and maybe a tiny speck or two. Compression artifacts were also not in evidence. Colors are richly rendered, with excellent saturation and no concerns.

SOUND: Paramount presents "Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life" in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's pumped-up sound mix is a great deal of fun, moreso than I even remember it being in the theater. This is an extremely aggressive soundtrack, with near-constant use of the surrounds. Although the action sequences use the rear speakers extensively to reinforce the score and provide sound effects, I was pleased that quieter scenes also used the surrounds a great deal to provide convincing and enjoyable ambience. Audio quality was excellent throughout, as sound effects offered sizable punch and impressive clarity. The score remained crisp and clear, too, as did dialogue.


Commentary: This is a commentary from director Jan De Bont. I've liked De Bont's tracks in the past, as the director provides energetic tracks with the occasional touch of humor. Once again, De Bont manages to focus on the important information rather than narrating scenes, as he provides information on the film's locations, the visual effects, the film's stunts and more. De Bont only leaves a few slight spaces of silence, filling most of the time with informative and involving stories from the set. While I didn't care for aspects of the film, I really enjoyed hearing about how elements of the film's scenes were achieved/constructed.

Deleted Scenes: 7 deleted scenes are offered, with the option of commentary from director Jan De Bont. One of the scenes is an alternate ending, with an extended cut of the fight and a very different conclusion. These scenes are presented 2.35:1 non-anamorphic and in 2.0 audio.

Featurettes: This section offers a group of five well-produced featurettes that explore different areas of the production. "Training" focuses on Jolie's work to prepare for the stunt/action work in the film; "Vehicles and Weapons" explores the different weapons used in the film and design work that had to be done; "Stunts" focuses on the stunt work, showing how stunts (including the "jump" sequence) were accomplished and what Jolie could and couldn't do; "Visual Effects" goes into more depth about the film's use of CGI and finally, "scoring" looks at the film's music.

Also: Gerard Butler's screen test (the first jail scene), music videos for Korn's "Did My Time" and the Davey Brothers' "Heart Go Faster"; previews for other Paramount titles and, for DVD-ROM users, the film's theatrical website.

Final Thoughts: While Jolie still makes for a great "Raider", the sequel's script needed more work and the action is inconsistent. Paramount has provided an excellent DVD, though: audio/video quality is excellent and there's plenty of supplements. Those interested should try a rental.

Popular Reviews
1. The Dark Tower
2. Atomic Blonde
3. Annabelle: Creation
4. Westworld: The Complete First Season
5. Misery: Collector's Edition
6. Jabberwocky: Criterion Collection
7. Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXIX
8. Le Samourai
9. Beyond The Darkness
10. 2:22

Sponsored Links
DVD Blowouts
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
Sponsored Links
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2017 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use