Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life

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Lara Croft: Tomb Raider –
The Cradle of Life
Lara Croft Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life Poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJan de Bont
Produced by
Screenplay byDean Georgaris
Story by
Based onTomb Raider
by Core Design
Music byAlan Silvestri
CinematographyDavid Tattersall
Edited byMichael Kahn
Distributed by
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • July 21, 2003 (2003-07-21) (premiere)
  • July 25, 2003 (2003-07-25) (United States)
  • August 14, 2003 (2003-08-14) (Germany)
  • August 22, 2003 (2003-08-22) (United Kingdom)
  • September 20, 2003 (2003-09-20) (Japan)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States[2]
Budget$95 million[1]
Box office$160.1 million[1]

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life is a 2003 action adventure film based on the Tomb Raider video game series. Angelina Jolie stars as the titular Lara Croft character with supporting performances from Gerard Butler, Ciarán Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Til Schweiger, Djimon Hounsou and Simon Yam. An international co-production between the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, the film was directed by Jan de Bont and is a sequel to the 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

The Cradle of Life received mostly negative reviews, though critics noted it as an improvement on its predecessor, particularly in the action sequences, and continued to praise Jolie's performance as Lara Croft. Despite this, it did not repeat its box office performance, grossing $156 million compared to the previous installment's $275 million. It was still a financial success, and plans were made for a sequel, which were cancelled when Jolie declined to reprise her role as Croft. The series saw a new installment in 2018 with Alicia Vikander taking over the title role.


On Santorini island, Greece, a strong earthquake uncovers the Luna Temple. The temple was built by Alexander the Great to house his most prized treasures. Among these treasures is a glowing orb with a pattern resembling a code etched into it. Treasure-hunting archaeologist Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) and her group find this orb but are ambushed by the Lo brothers; Chen (Simon Yam) and Xien (Terence Yin), both of whom are crime lords and leaders of Chinese syndicate Shay Ling, The duo kill the group and take the orb but Lara escapes with a strange medallion.

MI6 approaches Lara with information about Pandora's box, an object from ancient legends that supposedly contains a deadly plague (the companion to the origin of life itself). The box, hidden in the mysterious Cradle of Life, can only be found with a magical sphere that serves as a map. The sphere is the same orb that was stolen by Chen Lo, who plans to sell it to Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds) - a Nobel Prize winning scientist turned bio-weapon armsdealer.

Agreeing that the sphere must be kept away from Reiss, Lara agrees to help MI6, with the condition that they release her old flame Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), who is familiar with Chen Lo's criminal operation. Together, Terry and Lara infiltrate Chen Lo's lair, where he is smuggling the Terracotta Soldiers. Lara defeats him in a fight and learns that the orb is in Shanghai. In Shanghai she discovers Chen's brother Xien is trying to hand over the orb to Reiss, however once Xien hands the orb over, Reiss betrays Xien and executes him, but not before Lara manages to put a tracker on the orb during the handoff.

Lara and Terry manage to find the orb in a lab housed in Hong Kong. However Lara is captured by Reiss and his men. Reiss reveals his plans to unleash the plague, saving only those people he deems worthy. Terry rescues Lara and they take the orb before fleeing using wingsuits. The next day, Lara uses the orb and learns the location of the mysterious Cradle of Life; Tanzania in Africa. After Lara sends returns information to her friend Bryce back at Croft Manor, Reiss and his men infiltrate the mansion and capture him and Hillary (Chris Barrie). Lara travels to Tanzania where she meets up with her longtime friend Kosa (Djimon Hounsou). They question a local tribe about the Cradle of Life, wherein the chief states that the Cradle of Life is in a crater protected by the "Shadow Guardians".

As they set out on an expedition, Reiss' men ambush them and kill the tribesmen. Outnumbered, Lara surrenders. Using her companions as hostages, Reiss forces Lara to lead him to the Cradle of Life. At the crater, they encounter the Shadow Guardians, monsters that appear in and out of wet patches on dead trees. The creatures kill most of Reiss' men but Lara manages to find the "key hole" and drops the Orb in it. The creatures melt and the entrance to the Cradle of Life opens.

Lara and Reiss are drawn into the Cradle, a labyrinth made of a strange crystalline substance where normal laws of physics do not apply. Inside, they find a pool of highly corrosive black acid (linking back to one of the myths about Pandora's box), in which the box floats. Terry arrives, frees the hostages and catches up to Lara.

Lara fights Reiss but Reiss succeeds in retrieving his gun. He is about to shoot her, throw her into the acid and take Pandora's Box, but unfortunately for him Terry distracts him and saves Lara. Then Lara knocks Reiss down and throws him into the acid pool, which kills and dissolves him. Then Terry announces his intention to take the box for himself. When he refuses to back down, Lara regretfully shoots him dead, replaces the box in the pool and leaves.



The budget for the film was $95 million (less than the first film's $115 million budget), and like the first film, it was financed through Tele München Gruppe. The picture was also distributed internationally by Japanese company Toho-Towa.[3]

Filming lasted for three and a half months, which included six-day shoots on location in Hong Kong, Santorini, Llyn Gwynant in North Wales[4] (doubling for mainland China), and a two-week stint in Kenya for shooting at Amboseli and Hell's Gate, with the remainder of the picture filmed on soundstages in the United Kingdom.[5] One scene in the film was set in Shanghai, but it was shot on a set and not on location.

The film also featured the new 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, first seen when Lara parachutes into the moving vehicle in Africa and takes over the wheel from Kosa. As part of Jeep's advertising campaign, it was specially customised for the film by Jeep's design team along with the film's production designers, with three copies constructed for filming.[6] 1,001 limited-run Tomb Raider models were produced—available only in silver like the film version and minus its special customisations—and put on the market to coincide with the release of the film. Jeep vice president Jeff Bell explained, "[The ad campaign] is more than just a product placement ... the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is the most capable Jeep ever built, so the heroic and extreme environment in which Lara Croft uses her custom Wrangler Rubicon in Tomb Raider is accurate."[7] In the end, Lara's Rubicon had less than two total minutes of screen time in the finished film.


Critical response[edit]

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life holds a 25% rating out of 171 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. The website's critical consensus reads, "Though the sequel is an improvement over the first movie, it's still lacking in thrills."[8] On Metacritic it has a weighted average score of 43/100 based on 34 reviews.[9] Audiences polled by Cineascore gave it a grade "B-" on scale of A to F.[10]

Salon described it as a "highly enjoyable summer thrill ride."[11] Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, stating that the film was "better than the first one, more assured, more entertaining ... it uses imagination and exciting locations to give the movie the same kind of pulp adventure feeling we get from the Indiana Jones movies."[12] David Rooney of Variety praised Jolie for being "hotter, faster and more commanding than last time around as the fearless heiress/adventuress, plus a little more human."[13]

The film was nonetheless panned by most critics. Rene Rodriguez of The Miami Herald called it "another joyless, brain-numbing adventure through lackluster Indiana Jones territory".[14] James Berardinelli of ReelViews said "The first Tomb Raider was dumb fun; Cradle of Life is just plain dumb ... the worst action movie of the summer."[15] Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe wrote, "It's a bullet-riddled National Geographic special [that] produces a series of dumb, dismal shootouts that are so woefully choreographed there's reason to believe Debbie Allen may be behind them." He then said of director De Bont, "He has yet to meet a contraption he couldn't use to damage your hearing."[16] Jolie earned a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actress for her performance in the film.[citation needed]

Box office[edit]

The film debuted in fourth place with a take of $21.8 million.[17] In the United Kingdom, the film opened at number three, earning £1.5 million in its first three days.[18] The film finished with a domestic gross of $65 million.

Paramount blamed the failure of the film on the poor performance of the then-latest installment of the video game series, Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.[19] After numerous delays, Angel of Darkness was rushed to shelves just over a month before the release of the movie, despite the final product being unfinished and loaded with glitches. It spawned mediocre sales, and mixed reviews from critics.[20] Former Eidos Interactive senior executive Jeremy Heath-Smith, who was also credited as an executive producer in the film, resigned days after the game was released.[19]



Lara Croft: Tomb Raider –
The Cradle of Life
(Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJuly 22, 2003[21]

As with the original movie, the sequel opted to separate its soundtrack onto two CDs: the first, with tracks contributed by various artists; the second with Alan Silvestri's original score for the movie.

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1."Heart Go Faster"Davey Brothers3:30
2."The Only Way (Is the Wrong Way)"Filter5:15
3."Bad Girl"Alexandra Slate3:35
4."Satellite" (Oakenfold Remix)P.O.D.4:52
5."The Last High"The Dandy Warhols4:46
7."Leave You Far Behind"Lunatic Calm3:13
8."Jam for the Ladies" (Jason Nevins Remix)Moby4:01
9."Starting Over"The Crystal Method5:49
10."You Can't Look Away"Sloth3:47
11."I Hate This"Nadirah "Nadz" Seid3:35
12."Reason Is Treason"Kasabian3:45
13."Into Hell Again"3rd Strike3:11
14."Tears from the Moon" (Stateside West Chillout Mix)Conjure One featuring Sinéad O'Connor6:06
15."Flight to Freedom"David A. Stewart3:31
16."Pandora's Box"Alan Silvestri5:24
  • The track "Did My Time" by Korn was supposed to appear on the soundtrack, but due to problems with Korn's record company, this did not happen. The song still appears during the films end credits.


Lara Croft: Tomb Raider –
The Cradle of Life
(Original Motion Picture Score)
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJuly 25, 2003[22]
Length117 minutes
Original Motion Picture Score
2."The Luna Temple"7:43
3."Shark Attack"3:18
4.""I Need Terry Sheridan""5:40
5."Arrival In China"1:46
6."Captured By the Shay Ling"5:59
7."Escape from Chen"4:19
8."Flower Pagoda Battle"5:42
9."Skydive Getaway"2:11
10."Orb Transmission"1:42
11."Journey to the Cradle of Life"6:23
12."The Cradle of Life"6:33
13."Pandora's Box"5:24
14.""Not Meant to Be Found""0:45
15."Lara Croft - Tomb Raider"0:52

Home media[edit]

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life was released on DVD and VHS on November 18, 2003; a Blu-ray release followed on October 8, 2013.[23] A 4K UHD Blu-ray version was released on February 27, 2018.[24]


In March 2004, producer Lloyd Levin said that The Cradle of Life had earned enough internationally for Paramount to bankroll a third film, but any hopes of it going into production were soon quelled by Jolie's announcement that she had no desire to play Lara Croft a third time: "I just don't feel like I need to do another one. I felt really happy with the last one. It was one we really wanted to do."[25] In 2018 the franchise was rebooted with Alicia Vikander becoming the Tomb Raider.


  1. ^ a b c "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  2. ^ "Lara Croft Tomb Raider The Cradle of Life (2003". British Film Institute. London. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  3. ^ "Toho-Towa official website". Archived from the original on 2009-02-21.
  4. ^ Wales hosts Hollywood blockbusters
  5. ^ Budget for Tomb Raider-2 With Angelina Jolie -
  6. ^ Tomb Raider Lara Croft to Drive Special Jeep Wrangler Rubicon - Motor Trend, 4/29/03
  7. ^ Jeep Wrangler Tomb Raider Archived 2009-05-02 at the Wayback Machine -
  8. ^ Lara Croft Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life - Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life - Metacritic
  10. ^ "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  11. ^ Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life -, 7/25/03
  12. ^ Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life - Chicago Sun-Times, 7/25/03
  13. ^ Rooney, David (25 July 2003). "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life". Variety.
  14. ^ Rene Rodriguez. "Movie: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 22 August 2003. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  15. ^ Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (United States, 2003) - Reel Views, 7/25/03
  16. ^ 'Lara Croft': Cradle of lifelessness -, 7/25/03
  17. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for July 25-27, 2003 - Box Office Mojo
  18. ^ "Entertainment | Lara's second box office raid fails". BBC News. 2003-08-26. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
  19. ^ a b Blame Game - Entertainment Weekly, 7/29/03
  20. ^ Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness - Metacritic
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life - Original Motion Picture Score". Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  23. ^ "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life DVD Release Date November 18, 2003". DVDs Release Dates. Retrieved 2018-05-21.
  24. ^ "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life". Paramount. 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2018-05-21.
  25. ^ "Jolie Finished Being Lara Croft". Archived from the original on 2007-05-05.

External links[edit]