Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
starring Angelina Jolie
2 stars

I don't know anybody who wanted a Tomb Raider sequel; the first film was widely sneered at and made crappy money. Why a sequel? The only thing I can think of is the mysterious allure of branding, of being able to put out a product with some faint name recognition, along with the hope that people could be suckered once again by the promise of boobies in action. Thus, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.

The trailers for LCTR:tCoL, with a couple of half-decent-looking shots of Lara somersaulting around some bamboo rigging and polevaulting onto a helicopter, provided a slight hint of maybe-appeal for viewers whose standards had been driven miles underground by years of bad summer blockbusters. Plus, the director this time around was Jan de Bont, whose last film was crappy remake The Haunting, but who had been previously responsible for Speed and Twister, which weren't too bad. Admittedly, one okay bit from a trailer and a once-good-but-now-highly-suspect director isn't much to go on, but if we crush all hope and just assume something's going to be terrible, aren't we betraying ourselves, betraying our own hearts?

Ah, but no. LCTR:tCoL is poo. Big shocker there, I know. The basic problem is that Lara Craft as a character is --how shall I put this --*boring as hell*. When we're playing a Tomb Raider game, it's possible to invest something of ourselves in Lara's struggles to jump from block to statue to block because if she misses we have to go back and do it all over again. Failure and defeat are an essential part of the video-game Lara Croft experience.

Movie Lara Croft is something different; just as in Tomb Raider, the experience is like watching somebody play through an already-mastered game. It's blam-blam-blam, get the key, jump over the spikes, blam-blam-blam, end level, short cinematic, move on to the next level to fight some wolves. Thus, there's never for a single second any sense of danger, of threat, of the thrill that is typically associated with a "thriller". It's just Angleina and her pouty lips jumping from thing to thing, shooting sometimes, plodding through meaningless action sequence after meaningless action sequence. The closest we ever get to a human emotion is the warm smiles she bestows on all the poor people who inexplicably seem to love her. Beyond that, she's a robot, and not even an interesting robot.

Ah, but perhaps I'm getting too cerebral, here. Isn't this movie just about the boobies? And yes, boobies there are, in tight silver outfits and the occasional bathing suit. But the thing about Lara Croft is that she's so sexualized, she's actually *asexual*; that is, she's supposedly so hot and kickass and super-competent that it's impossible to imagine her lowering herself to get busy with any sub-superhuman man. And in LCTR:tCoL, we see this dynamic in full effect as she partners up with a strip of anonymous beefcake in order to suggest that there might be something kind of sexy going on, only to reinforce our suspicions that sex is impossible for her. If you're 13 and have a hot thing for Angelina Jolie, just the booby cheesecake images might be enough, but honestly, you'd be better off spending your time just looking for naked pictures of her on the Internet, of which there are many.

There are a couple of slivers of worthiness here. Chris Barrie, Rimmer from the British sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf, returns as Lara's personal assistant. I counted three laughs in the film; all were his. Andů actually, that's it. There's really nothing else of consequence in the film. Ignore it, as you were going to anyway.