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Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-07-30 tracking life & times section
Jolie is a beauty, but second 'Tomb Raider' an insult
Cletus Turner


Angelina Jolie stars in her second "Tomb Raider" film. (click for larger version)
When I went to see the first Tomb Raider movie, I was in for a big surprise. I had never played the game so I was able to look at the movie from a fresh perspective and liked the film.

Now, the second installment in what is expected to be a series, opens and to my surprise, I am with the consensus. Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life has to be one of the most implausible movies of the year. Even though Angelina Jolie, who plays superwoman Lara Croft, displays more humanism than in the previous film, the film isn't able to capitalize on this new found womanhood.

The film begins with an earthquake of a Greek island and Lara is able to immediately discern that the ruins uncovered under the ocean are the ruins of the Luna Temple. The temple was the repository for Alexander the Great's treasures. One treasure is an orb, which Lara finds but promptly loses to Chinese thugs, and is a map to the fabled Pandora's Box which Alexander hid in the Cradle of Life somewhere in Africa.

After the first big fight in the Luna Temple, the Chinese thugs leave Lara to drown. She proceeds to swim out, cut her arm and draw a shark to her. Once the shark arrives, she punches it in the nose and uses it to get herself to the surface.

At that point of the movie, director Jan De Bont lost me. As a person with an unreasonable fear of sharks, I, better than most, know that a shark MUST keep in constant motion or drown. The only way a shark can breath is to have water running through its breathing system constantly. If it stops, it drowns. When Lara punched the shark, it actually BACKS up and then shakes its upper body. Hunh? AND, how does Lara know the shark will head toward the surface and not attack her again? What about other sharks? She is still bleeding after all. I know many will say I should get "into the movie" but when a film refuses to accept that there are intelligent movie fans out there who don't like their intelligence insulted, they deserve the bad press they get.

After this scene, the movie pretty much is true to form. Lara goes to Hong Kong, China, and Africa. At first, in search of the orb, then to find the cradle of life.

A friend of mine noticed something that I hadn't. Except for an old chinese woman and a couple of women in a family that Lara bursts in on, there are no women in this movie. Angelina Jolie has the female quotient all to herself. Not that I'm complaining, but my friend commented that she expected the movie to be more pro-woman than it was. In reality, the film is supposed to show us that a woman can be just as "action oriented" as a man. In many ways it does, but it also exploits Jolie. The number of scenes that show us the pouting lips, the arched eyebrow and the heavy bosom are numerous. Of course, this is for the teenage males who are supposed to be the films largest group of fans.

As for the plot, it is nice and simple, but doesn't help keep the movie going like it should. There are dry, slow parts and there are times that De Bont doesn't set up the fight scenes well enough. We need to know where everyone is in relation to one another. By not giving us that vital information, De Bont loses the audience. Where did that person come from? Where are they going? People seem to pop up out of nowhere even though I'm sure they were supposed to be there all along.

Ciaran Hinds plays the evil Jonathan Reece, the billionaire disease monger who sells death to the highest bidder. He is one of the best parts of the film. I really believe him when he wants to destroy the world.

As well, Gerard Butler, notable for portraying Dracula in Dracula 2000, plays the masterful spy Terry Sheridan, a former lover of Lara's. Butler and Jolie have wonderful chemistry, but the film and the director don't seem to want to focus on that. It might take away from the action, but it would have made Lara more human.

Overall, this film is insulting and boring in parts. It also is a hodge podge of scenes thrown together that really have no continuity. Luckily, the plot is able to help keep the film from being a complete mess. I don't think De Bont will be able to bring any new fans into the series, actually, he probably lost some because of the mess he made.

1 sun

Spy Kids 3 shocked the industry by taking the number one spot at the box office this weekend. The film grossed over $33.4 million and more than doubled its expected take. Pirates of the Caribbean shocked everyone again by remaining in second place. The film was able to garner $23.1 million. In third was Bad Boys II, last week's number one. The film was able to gross $22.1 million in its second week. In fourth place was the disappointing debut of Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. The Angelina Jolie film garnered $21.8 million, less than half of the amount that the original film brought in for the studio. In fifth place was the period film Seabiscuit. The horse flick surprised many because it took in $20.9, and was shown in 1,000 less cinemas than the other films in the top five.

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