Death of the Critic

Why Did I Watch That? - Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Written by: Tom Blaich


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

Video game movies are almost universally terrible. They’ve attempted different franchises and actors in pursuit of finally making a good video game movie. And it just isn’t working. In the midst of this, somehow, a sequel to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a movie about finding a magical triangle that can control time that was almost universally critically panned, was greenlit. A franchise built almost entirely upon leering shots of Angelina Jolie being sexy.

Roger Ebert described The Cradle of Life as having “the same kind of pulp adventure feeling we get from the Indiana Jones movies.” I would describe it as, “Steaming hot garbage.” There are almost no redeemable qualities about this movie, nothing that should compel anyone to watch unless they like bad CGI and worse acting.

It isn’t that the movie is different from the game series. In fact, the globe trotting femme fatale follows in the footsteps of the early Tomb Raider titles rather well. It’s full of disconnected set pieces and poorly explained mysticism, too caught up in trying to be cinematic to remember to be a good movie. In its defense, the stories of the games that the movie is based upon are shoddy at best and downright stupid at worst.

The plot is painfully generic where an ancient artifact is discovered that could destroy the world, and Lara must beat an evil scientist to the punch to retrieve it. It’s basically the plot of every Indiana Jones movie, and every adventure ever made, and it doesn’t do anything to differentiate itself. It tries to work in eye-catching moments but fails, leaving you scratching your head at CGI sharks, pools of death liquid, and aliens.

The only thing that the game really did do right is in the characterization of Lara. In between camera shots of her butt or breasts, Jolie manages to pull off the cocky and capable adventurer remarkably well. As bad as her acting can be, she is undeniably confident and her presence on screen frequently dwarfs her co-stars.

I want to loop back to Roger Ebert’s review here. He gave this movie three out of a possible four stars. And while this (objectively wrong) opinion is just that, an opinion, it is also the same score that he gave Blade Runner, one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made. However, this movie is not equivalent to Blade Runner. This movie is to Blade Runner what a pile of regurgitated Fancy Feast is to a meal at The French Laundry. Not only is this man wrong, he is as wrong as anyone has ever been about anything.

God, I love hyperbole.



Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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