The Tomb Raider film franchise was based on the popular adventure video game. This second Tomb Raider film, however, owes more to Indiana Jones and James Bond than anything else. Cradle of Life does an excellent job of moving along an adventure story. With exotic locations in Africa and China, Lara Croft has plenty of opportunities to show case her Bond-like bag of gadgets. Critics didn’t like this film much, but then again most film critics don’t seem to appreciate a film as a thrill ride. Angelina Jolie keeps the pace and adrenalin pumped up for the entire 2 hours. Sure, some of it is rather silly (The CGI shark scene was downright corny) but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a lot of fun. Jolie isn’t that hard to watch, either.
This is an amazing Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I’ve never heard a more aggressive use of surrounds. Rear channels effectively boost more than subtle ambient sounds here. They will play an active role in the musical score and the main action. Even dialogue is enhanced in this mix with clever use of echoes and other wonderful sound f/x. The sub is driven hard in spots. Highs and lows remain dynamic and extremely clean at all times. Simply one of the best mixes out to date.
A commentary with director Jan DeBont is interesting at times. His voice is a bit too soothing against such an explosive backdrop. He’s generous with the set stories and background information, however, so this is worth a listen.
Cradle Of Life is presented in its original theatrical release aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This is a dazzling presentation. Colors are bright when they need to be, rich when required, and soft when appropriate. Blue filters dominate the darker scenes, adding a nice touch of atmosphere captured effectively in this transfer. Blacks, shadows in particular, are perfect. DeBont makes marvelous use of lighting. This DVD is visually stimulating in all aspects of its presentation. I found no film specks or artifacts of any kind to mar this picture. Details are sharp.
There are 7 deleted scenes including an alternative ending. The ending used in the film is much better. Most of these scenes are extensions of moments still in the film. An optional commentary explains why they were cut.
There are a series of the standard featurettes which can be played alone or together. Most of them are between 5 and 10 minutes. The reason features are cut into pieces like this is for royalties. Once a feature reaches 30 minutes, royalties must be paid to the participants. The categories provided are: Training, Vehicles and Weapons, Scoring, Stunts, and Visual Effects.
A clip of Butler’s jail scene used as his screen test is provided. It’s interesting to note subtle changes made to the scene by the time of production. Jolie can be heard delivering lines off-camera.
Trailers and some text stuff round out this collection.
Look. I know this isn’t Indy or Bond. The fact is that the elements do blend for a satisfying action picture. Jolie has done a great job of creating a character that works on more than its physical level. Yeah, the accent sucks. You could nitpick this film to death. Me, I’d rather just open up the case. But… “That’s what got Pandora in trouble.”