' ' Cinema Romantico: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle Of Life

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle Of Life

Craving a summertime action blockbuster but nothing in theaters of this variety appearing worthy of my hard earned cash I wound up slaking my appetite by indulging in the calorie-heavy 2003 Jan de Bont directed follow up to 2001's "Lara Croft Tomb Raider", which I haven't seen, featuring Angelina Jolie in the title role, confident I could pick up the "story" as it went along.

The "story" opens off the island of Santorini where an earthquake has made it possible to reach the Luna Temple, built by Alexander the Great, and swallowed by the Aegean Sea, all of which seems to be a rather elborate device to allow for a fleeting appearance of Ms. Jolie in a bikini. I am certain most of the brainstorming sessions between de Bont and his writer, Dean Georgaris, centered around how they could get her into a bikini. Perhaps I sound crass but what's true is true and the truth is Angelina Jolie was genetically engineered to wear a bikini. (My official Cinematic Crush Sienna Miller, on the other hand, was genetically engineered to wear black leggings and avant-garde tops, a look which I admittedly prefer. But, my God, do I digress!)

Once she gets out of the bikini she and two trusted associates make a dive to the Luna Temple where Lara finds a luminescent orb that is no ordinary luminescent orb but one which actually functions as a map to the legendary Pandora's Box located in the Cradle Of Life. But, of course, the instant Lara finds the luminescent orb a Chinese crime lord named Chen Lo (Simon Yam) appears whose lackeys wound Lara and take the luminescent orb for themselves at which point the Luna Temple begins to crumble as a direct result of an earthquake aftershock which leads to Lara having to swim her way out from well beneath the water and so on and so forth, your typical acton movie razzmatazz, but with that aforementioned wound of Lara's bleeding a giant shark sniffs her out and circles her and stares her down and attacks her and Lara calmly watches this predator approach, rears back her fist and....punches the shark.

I say again, she punches the shark.

Are you paying attention, future blockbuster filmmakers?! This is how you use CGI to your advantage! She punches a frickin' shark!

From there Lara trots the globe at a torrid pace as to re-aquire the luminescent orb which Chen Lo plans to sell to a devious villain, ex-Nobel Prize winner Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds, a bit too subdued). Lara will have to get her old, not totally trustworthy accomplice Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) out of prison in Kazakhstan since he is best equipped to help track down Chen Lo (Simon Yam) in China which will lead to an action sequence in Shanghai which will lead to an action sequence in Hong Kong which will lead to the location of the Cradle Of Life at Mount Kilimanjaro which allows for Djimon Hinsou to reprise his usual role of the Noble Sidekick as we learn there is nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do to stop one adventuring archaeologist.

The movie is rather hit and miss with its big setpieces and the end is anti-climactic, the Cradle Of Life being a letdown of marginal special effects, but there is one thing this movie has going for it, and it's the same thing 2008's "Wanted" had going for it, and that is the unforced elegant badassedness of Angelina Jolie.

In a way the action genre has belonged to Bruce Willis ever since Hans Gruber took over the Nakatomi Tower. It is because Bruce Willis can make just about any line, no matter how wretchedly written, no matter how absurd the situation in which he is required to say it, believable, and believable with a whisp of annoyance. Even when he's on the wing of a jet fighter in mid-flight he resembles the peeved plumber working overtime to fix your leaky toilet. Even when Angelina Jolie is hiking up the side of the mountain with the possibility that the world might end looming she resembles someone on a flower picking excursion in a dewey meadow. "What a lovely day!"

You always sense Bruce Willis would rather be kicked back in a recliner with a six-pack watching the game while, on the other hand, you always sense Angelina Jolie is like a sixth grade whiz kid commissioned to put together some audacious science project. But, you know, hotter.


Rory Larry said...

From the esteemed Mr. Ebert re: the first Lara Croft movie:

"Lara Croft is a major babe with a great set of ears...It is cold on the tundra, and everyone wears fur-lined parkas. Everyone but Lara, whose light gray designer cape sweeps behind her so that we can admire the tight matching sweater she is wearing, which clings tightly to those parts of her body that can be found a foot below and a little to the front of her great ears."

And the opening of that review

"Lara Croft Tomb Raider" elevates goofiness to an art form. Here is a movie so monumentally silly, yet so wondrous to look at, that only a churl could find fault"

Nick Prigge said...

I'm pretty sure Roger has a thing for Jolie (not that I blame him). I remember watching an "At The Movies" episode years ago where he reviewed "Original Sin" and basically said in a very roundabout way that he was giving it a thumb up because he thought Angelina Jolie was attractive. And then Roeper kept trying to get him to admit it but he wouldn't take the bait.