The only things that distinguished the first "Tomb Raider" movie from its source material the best-selling video games were the size of the screen and the lack of game controllers.
What made the movie faithful to its video-game roots, however, also kept it from being a decent action-adventure picture such as a coherent plot, memorable dialogue and character development.
And while sequel, "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life," does rectify some of the mistakes made by its predecessor, it's still lacking in some fundamentals. For one thing, it's nearly humorless, which is deadly for such movies.
Still, it does have a few things that at least make it somewhat watchable not the least of which is star Angelina Jolie. She reprises her role as the fearless adventurer and archeologist Croft.
In this adventure, she's trying to prevent the wrong people from getting their hands on Pandora's Box, which it turns out is not merely a legend but the real deal. In fact, it contains a plague that could mean the end of life on Earth.
However, if she's going to locate that long-lost treasure, Lara's going to need some help. So she enlists imprisoned mercenary Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) who happens to be her former lover, and is not to be trusted.
Though Jolie really tries to sell the romantic sparks that are supposedly flying between the two characters, that particular subplot is as underdeveloped as everything else in the film. Neither she nor director Jan de Bont (the "Speed" movies) can overcome the by-committee script, which is surprisingly talk-heavy.
However, de Bont's direction is a vast improvement over the first "Lara Croft" film. At least he keeps his camera in one place long enough for audiences to be able to tell what's going on. Even though what's going on isn't nearly as exciting as it should be.
"Lara Croft, Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" is rated PG-13 for action violence (gunplay, martial-arts combat and violence against women), scattered use of profanity, brief gore, some brief sexual contact and some racy innuendo. Running time: 117 minutes.
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