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[3]

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (or simply Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life or Tomb Raider 2) 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 instalment's $274 million.


The film opens when an earthquake interrupts a wedding on Santorini island, Greece. The tremor 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 as well as a strange medallion. Soon the Shaolin crime lord Chen Lo (Simon Yam) and his accomplices kill her two companions and steal both artifacts. Lara manages to narrowly escape as another quake causes the Luna Temple to collapse. Lara is tasked by MI6 to find Pandora's Box, an object from ancient legends that supposedly contains a deadly plague, before Nobel Prize-winning scientist turned bio-terrorist Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds) can get his hands on it. The key to finding the box, which is hidden in the mysterious Cradle of Life, is the magical luminous Orb that serves as a map, the one stolen by Chen Lo in Santorini, who plans to sell the Orb to Reiss. To help her track down Chen Lo and the Orb, Lara negotiates with MI6 for the help and release of Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), a former lover and previous Royal Marine, before his imprisonment in the Republic of Kazakhstan for traitorous and mercenary crimes.

Among the action sequences that take place during this time are Lara and Terry's entry into China, a fight scene in suburban Shanghai, and a leap off the then-under-construction International Finance Centre skyscraper in Hong Kong, using special winged flight-suits that Terry had arranged for, landing on a ship out in the Kowloon Bay after taking the Orb from Reiss. It is revealed that the medallion Lara also recovered from Chen Lo shows how to unlock the information in the Orb; a certain arrangement of musical sounds. During their travels, Lara and Terry become romantic again, but when Lara finds Terry holding the orb and acting strangely afterward, she starts to back away from him in case he betrays her. When Terry tries to seduce her, Lara pretends to give in but handcuffs him to a bedpost, while offering him money and freedom to walk away from the Orb. When he refuses to change his plans for selling the Orb, she leaves him handcuffed with a warning to forget the Orb and says "I'm not leaving because I can't kill you; I'm leaving because I could."

Lara finds her way to a floating houseboat where a Chinese family is watching SpongeBob SquarePants when Lara asks to use their satellite to communicate with Bryce (Noah Taylor). After a reluctant argument about technical difficulties, Bryce sends Lara the sound file created from the medallion's symbols, she plays the sounds, causing The Orb to reveal a giant ancient globe hologram showing the location of the Cradle of Life, somewhere near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Lara sends this info to Bryce back at Croft Manor. After the transmission, it is revealed that Reiss and his men had infiltrated Croft Manor and captured Bryce and James "Hilly" Hillary (Chris Barrie).

Lara meets up with Kosa (Djimon Hounsou), an African friend who serves as her translator as they obtain the information from a local tribe about the Cradle of Life. Kosa translates for the tribe's chieftain stating that the Cradle of Life is in a crater protected by the "Shadow Guardians" (humanoid creatures which kill immediately when they sense a movement and vanish into wet patches on dead trees). As the expedition sets out, Lara, Kosa, and the tribesmen with them are ambushed by Reiss' soldiers. More tribesmen are killed by Reiss' soldiers with some of the soldiers being killed by Lara in the fight. The fight ends with Lara surrendering to overwhelming odds as Reiss' helicopter started to land. Reiss and Sean (Til Schweiger) threaten to kill Bryce, Hillary, and Kosa unless Lara leads him and his soldiers to the Cradle of Life. Upon arrival at the crater, they encounter the Shadow Guardians with the wet patching on the dead trees being the blood of their victims. 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 Shadow Guardians fall to pieces and both Lara and Reiss are drawn into the Cradle of Life, a labyrinthine cavern made of some strange crystalline substance, racked by bolts of energy where "'sky and earth are one, direction meaningless." Inside there is a pool of highly corrosive black acid (linking back to one of the myths about Pandora's Box) which holds the box and where the laws of physics do not 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 he is distracted by Terry, killing and dissolving him. When the couple tries to leave, Terry attempts to take the box as compensation for finding it. But Lara staunchly refuses to let him, knowing the danger if the box were ever open. Despite her love for him, this results in Lara being forced to fatally shoot him in self-defense just after Terry draws his own gun preparing to shoot Lara. Lara is tempted to open the box herself, but realizes that some artifacts are not meant to be found. Placing the box back in the acid pool, she leaves, giving the medallion to the chieftain.

Lara and Kosa leave the village along with Bryce and Hillary (who were unknowingly being prepared for a tribal wedding ceremony). The film ends with Lara driving the jeep away from the setting sun.



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.[4]

Filming lasted for three and a half months, which included six-day shoots on location in Hong Kong, Santorini, Llyn Gwynant in North Wales (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"


  1. ^ "Lara Croft Tomb Raider The Cradle of Life". British Film Institue. London. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  4. ^ Toho-Towa official website (English)
  5. ^ Budget for Tomb Raider-2 With Angelina Jolie -
  6. ^ Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life - Trivia - Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ Tomb Raider Lara Croft to Drive Special Jeep Wrangler Rubicon - Motor Trend, 4/29/03
  8. ^ Jeep Wrangler Tomb Raider -
  9. ^ Cradle of Life - Rotten Tomatoes
  10. ^ a b Cradle of Life - Metacritic
  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. ^ Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life -, 7/25/03
  14. ^ Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life - Reel Views, 7/25/03
  15. ^ 'Lara Croft': Cradle of lifelessness -, 7/25/03
  16. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for July 25-27, 2003 - Box Office Mojo
  17. ^ "Entertainment | Lara's second box office raid fails". BBC News. 2003-08-26. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  18. ^ a b Blame Game - Entertainment Weekly, 7/29/03
  19. ^ Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness - Metacritic
  20. ^ Jolie Finished Being Lara Croft -, 3/16/04

External links[edit]