Compared to its 2001 predecessor, The Cradle of Life is much more along the lines of the films (Indiana Jones) it’s trying to emulate. It’s sleeker, more engaging, and has a much better villain, among other things.
Rather than wasting time in the beginning with contrived banter to set up character, this one jumps right into it. It gives less backstory, yet somehow provides us with more depth.
In The Cradle of Life, Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) is on a mission to find Pandora’s Box before an evil bio-terrorist finds it and unleashes its contents, killing millions of people.
This one actually does have the potential to be a really good film in the traditional sense, but unfortunately most people will compare it to the action movies of today and standards will be too high.
It’s not only highly entertaining, but knows how to stray away from formulaic beats when it counts the most.
The film also tries to fill in much of the dead space with a love story between Croft and a character played by a then-unknown Gerard Butler. But this actually serves a purpose other than just a desperate attempt to grasp for more depth.
Jolie seems even more comfortable with the character the second time around, and this director actually knows what to do with her. He doesn’t try as hard to manufacture her coolness–which actually makes her even more cool. It allows her persona to speak more for itself.
While the first Tomb Raider was decently entertaining, this sequel is a large step above. The humor is more organic and appropriate. And less forced.
The story just moves along a lot more fluidly here too. It doesn’t just complete the story with a paint-by-numbers storyboard. You can tell the filmmakers are having fun, which helps the audience join in on that.