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 by Jan de Bont
Produced by Lloyd Levin
Lawrence Gordon
Screenplay by Dean Georgaris
Story by Steven E. de Souza
James V. Hart
Based on Tomb Raider 
by Core Design
Starring Angelina Jolie
Gerard Butler
Noah Taylor
Ciarán Hinds
Djimon Hounsou
Til Schweiger
Simon Yam
Christopher Barrie
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography David Tattersall
Edited by Michael Kahn
Mutual Film Company
Eidos Interactive
Lawrence Gordon Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • July 21, 2003 (2003-07-21) (premiere)
  • July 25, 2003 (2003-07-25) (United States)
  • August 22, 2003 (2003-08-22) (United Kingdom)
Running time
117 minutes
Country United States
United Kingdom[1]
Language English
Budget $95 million[2]
Box office $156,505,388[2]

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is a 2003 action film based on the popular Tomb Raider video game series and stars Angelina Jolie as the titular Lara Croft character with supporting roles done by Gerard Butler, Ciarán Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Til Schweiger, Djimon Hounsou, and Simon Yam. The film was directed by Jan de Bont and is a sequel to the 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Like the first film, the film received mostly negative reviews, though critics noted an improvement on its predecessor particularly in the action sequences and continued to praise Jolie's performance as Lara Croft. Despite the film's critical improvement over its predecessor, it did not repeat its financial success, grossing $156 million compared to the previous installment's $274 million.


On Santorini island, Greece, a wedding is interrupted by a strong earthquake. The earthquake uncovers the Luna Temple, 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. Lara (Angelina Jolie) finds this orb; but it is stolen by the crime lord Chen Lo (Simon Yam). Lara only just manages to escape with a strange medallion, while her two companions are killed by Chen's men.

Lara is tasked by MI6 to find Pandora's Box, an object from ancient legends that supposedly contains a deadly plague (the companion to the origin of life itself), before Nobel Prize-winning scientist turned bio-terrorist Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds) can get his hands on it and unleash it on the world. The key to finding the box, which is hidden in the mysterious Cradle of Life, is a magical luminous sphere that serves as a map - the one stolen by Chen Lo, who plans to sell the sphere to Reiss.

MI6 offers Lara the help of two of their best operatives, but she flat-out refuses them, insisting she needs to work with an old flame of hers who has knowledge of Chen Lo's criminal operation. Reluctantly, but having no other choice, they relent and release Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) from a maximum security prison. Terry is delighted to have the opportunity to work with Lara again, (after their previous 'heated' five months). They infiltrate Chen Lo's lair, where he is excavating/smuggling Terracotta Soldiers. Lara defeats him in a fight, winning back the medallion and forcing him to reveal the location of the stolen orb/map.

Lara and Terry then meet up with Kosa (Djimon Hounsou), an African friend who serves as translator as they question a local tribe about the Cradle of Life. Kosa translates the tribe's Chief as stating that the Cradle of Life is in a crater protected by the "Shadow Guardians". As the expedition sets out, Lara, Kosa, and the tribesmen with them are ambushed by Reiss' soldiers. As the fight continues, more tribesmen are killed by the soldiers, and Lara kills some of the soldiers. The battle ends when Lara surrenders in the face of overwhelming odds, as Reiss' helicopter lands.

Reiss and Sean (Til Schweiger) threaten to kill Bryce, Hillary and Kosa unless Lara leads him and his Tribeman to the Cradle of Life. Upon arrival at the crater, they encounter the Shadow Guardians, humanoid creatures which kill immediately when they sense movement and vanish into wet patches on dead trees. Sean and most of Reiss' soldiers are killed by the creatures. When Lara drops the Orb into the hole that opens the entrance to the Cradle of Life, the Guardians disintegrate and both Lara and Reiss are drawn into the Cradle, a labyrinthine cavern made of a strange crystalline substance, racked by bolts of energy. 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. Normal laws of physics seem not to apply, as Lara and Reiss are able to walk (upside down) along the ceiling of the cave. Terry arrives, frees Reiss' captives, and catches up to Lara.

Following a climactic fistfight between Lara and Reiss, Reiss is knocked into the acid pool by Lara after being distracted by Terry. The acid kills him and dissolves his flesh. As the couple prepares to leave, Terry retrieves the box, claiming it as compensation for finding it; but Lara staunchly refuses to let him take it, knowing the danger if the box were ever opened. When he challenges her willingness to stop him, she regretfully shoots him dead and leaves him lying by the pool, then replaces the box to float in the acid.



The budget for Cradle of Life was $100 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 UK.[5] The film was banned in China (save for Hong Kong and Macau) after the government complained that it portrayed their country as lawless and "overrun with secret societies".[6] One scene in the movie was set in Shanghai, but it was shot on a set and not on location.

Cradle of Life 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 Cradle of Life production designers, with three copies constructed for filming.[7] 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."[8] In the end, Lara's Rubicon had less than two total minutes of screen time in the finished film.


Critical reception[edit]

Cradle of Life holds a 24% rating out of 166 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes,[9] and a 43/100 rating on Metacritic.[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]

Cradle of Life was nonetheless heavily panned. Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald called it "another joyless, brain-numbing adventure through lackluster Indiana Jones territory";[10] 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."[14] 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."[15] Jolie earned a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actress for her performance in the film.

Box office performance[edit]

Despite the slightly more favorable critical response, Cradle of Life suffered a disappointing opening weekend, as it debuted in fourth place with a take of $21.8 million,[16] a 54% drop from the original's opening gross of $47.7 million. In the UK, the film opened up at number three, earning £1.5 million in its first three days.[17] The film finished with a domestic gross of only $65 million.

Overall, 2003 was not a good year for the Tomb Raider franchise. Paramount blamed the failure of Cradle of Life on the poor performance of the then-latest installment of the video game series, Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.[18] 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 while garnering mixed reviews from critics,[19] and 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.[18]

In March 2004, producer Lloyd Levin said that Cradle of Life had earned enough internationally for Paramount to bankroll a second sequel, 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."[20]


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


# Song title Artist
1 "Heart Go Faster" Davey Brothers
2 "The Only Way (Is the Wrong Way)" Filter
3 "Bad Girl" Alexandra Slate
4 "Satellite" (Oakenfold Remix) P.O.D.
5 "The Last High" The Dandy Warhols
6 "Time" Saliva
7 "Leave You Far Behind" Lunatic Calm
8 "Jam for the Ladies" (Jason Nevins Remix) Moby
9 "Starting Over" The Crystal Method
10 "You Can't Look Away" Sloth
11 "I Hate This" Nadirah "Nadz" Seid
12 "Reason Is Treason" Kasabian
13 "Into Hell Again" 3rd Strike
14 "Tears from the Moon" (Chillout Mix) Conjure One, Sinéad O'Connor
15 "Flight to Freedom" David A. Stewart
16 "Pandora's Box" Alan Silvestri

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.


# Song title
1 "Opening"
2 "The Luna Temple"
3 "Shark Attack"
4 "'I Need Terry Sheridan'"
5 "Arrival in China"
6 "Captured by the Shay Ling"
7 "Escape from Chen"
8 "Flower Pagoda Battle"
9 "Skydive Getaway"
10 "Orb Transmission"
11 "Journey to the Cradle of Life"
12 "The Cradle of Life"
13 "Pandora's Box"
14 "'Not Meant to Be Found'"
15 "Lara Croft – Tomb Raider"


External links[edit]