|Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Ciaran Hinds, Simon Yam
Director: Jan de Bont
Feel free to add "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" to the pile of sequels that should have never been made. The action is rare in the treasure hunter's second outing, and it seems the refreshing originality that breathed life into the first film is still trying to catch its breath. Then again, that's not too surprising considering you'll be exhausted by the time you're finished reading that ridiculously long title.
This time around in the world of stealing antiques, Croft (Angelina Jolie) discovers the lost ruins of Alexander the Great. But after finding a glowing orb that perks her interest, she loses it to a small band of Chinese thieves led by Chen Lo (Simon Yam). It turns out the orb is a map to the secret location of the mythical Pandora's Box, which is said to hold a power so dangerous that it could wipe out all existence.
Of course, behind every small-time Asian thug is the rich white guy, and this time it's former Nobel Prize winner Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds), who sells biological weapons to the highest bidding nation. Now, he wants the ultimate disease for his own disposal. In order to recover the orb, Croft enlists the help of an old friend, ex-British intelligence officer-turned-mercenary Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), a male version of Croft herself with plenty of Bond-style wit to pass around in the middle of a gunfight.
Jolie's return as the title character is one of the few things that kept my hope afloat for this recklessly hyped film, but it's the introduction of Sheridan that really kept me interested. It's too bad he doesn't have a huge rack and killer lips, or he'd have a franchise of his own. Although there's an unusual lack of action when compared to its predecessor, "Cradle" actually manages to create a much better story with stronger ties to its supporting characters. Unfortunately, the story is dragged out for too long, and aside from Jolie's looks and Butler's charm, "The Cradle of Life" has little to offer. It may please a few that do decide to venture to the theater, but it will likely lead to unexpected disappointment for everyone else.