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Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (a.k.a. Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and Tomb Raider 2) is a 2003 action film directed by Jan de Bont. It stars Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. It is a sequel to the 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.


Lara Croft (Jolie) is tasked by MI6 to find Pandora's Box, an object from ancient legends which supposedly contains one of the deadliest plagues on Earth, before evil Nobel Prize-winning scientist turned bioterrorist 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 a magical luminous orb that serves as a map. Lara finds the orb while exploring the submerged Luna Temple following an earthquake off the coast of Thira, but it is stolen by crime lord Chen Lo, who in turn plans to sell the orb to Reiss. Lara recruits an old lover, Terry Sheridan, (Gerard Butler), a former mercenary and Royal Marine who had spent his last couple of years in prison in Kazakhstan, to help her track down Chen Lo and the orb.

Among the action sequences that take place during this time are the duo's entry into mainland China, a fight scene in suburban Shanghai, and a leap off the then-under-construction International Finance Centre skyscraper in Hong Kong, landing on a ship out in the Kowloon Bay. Lara and Terry begin to fall in love with each other again but Lara starts to back away from him. The orb later reveals the location of the Cradle of Life to be somewhere near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Lara sends this info back to Bryce back at Croft Manor. After the transmission, Reiss and his men had infiltrated the mansion and captured Bryce and Hillary.

Lara meets up with Kosa, an African friend who serves as her translator as they obtain information from a local tribe about the Cradle of Life which is located on the Mountain of God. As the expedition started, many of the tribesmen are soon killed by Reiss' soldiers and ends with Lara being captured as Reiss' helicopter starts to land. Reiss threatens to kill Bryce, Hillary, and Kosa unless Lara leads him to the Cradle of Life. Soon they face perils such as a forest full of Shadow Guardians that kill immediately when they sense movement. When it comes to entering the Cradle of Life, there is a pool of highly corrosive black acid which holds the box. During this time, 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. Terry treats Lara's injuries and she gives him a kiss as a way of saying thank-you. When the couple tries to leave, Terry attempts to take Pandora's box as compensation for finding it, but she staunchly refuses to let him leave with it. 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. Lara places Pandora's Box back into the pool, and realizes that some things were not meant to be found.


  • Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft
  • Ciarán Hinds as Jonathan Reiss
  • Gerard Butler as Terry Sheridan
  • Christopher Barrie as Hillary
  • Noah Taylor as Bryce
  • Djimon Hounsou as Kosa
  • Til Schweiger as Sean
  • Simon Yam as Chen Lo
  • Terence Yin as Xien Lo
  • Daniel Caltagirone as Nicholas Petraki
  • Fabiano Martell as Jimmy Petraki
  • Jonathan Coyne as Gus Petraki
  • Robert Cavanah as MI6 Agent Stevens
  • Ronan Vibert as MI6 Agent Calloway
  • Robert Atiko as Armin Kal

Additional information[]

The budget for Cradle of Life was just under $120 million; like the first film, it was financed through Tele-München Gruppe. The picture was also distributed internationally by Japanese company Toho-Towa.[1]

Filming lasted for three and a half months, which included six-day shoots on location in Hong Kong, Thira, 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.[2] 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."[3] 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 customized for the film by Jeep's design team along with Cradle of Life production designers Kirk Petruccelli and Graham Kelly, with three copies constructed for filming.[4] 1,001 limited-run Tomb Raider models were produced - available only in silver like the film version and minus its special customizations - and put on the market in July to coincide with Cradle's theatrical release. 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."[5] In the end, Lara's Rubicon had less than two total minutes of screen time in the finished film, nearly all of which consisted of the vehicle being driven on flat land.

One notable mistake in the film is when Lara (Angelina Jolie) drops into a boat family's home in Hong Kong - and speaks to them in Mandarin Chinese. Additionally, a TV on the boat is showing a programme in Mandarin Chinese. In real life, since the official spoken language of Hong Kong is Cantonese Chinese - not Mandarin Chinese, it would have been more appropriate for Lara to speak in Cantonese Chinese to the family instead. Also, the vast majority of Hong Kong TV programmes are in Cantonese Chinese - not Mandarin Chinese, as well.

Critical response[]

Cradle of Life received slightly higher reviews than the original, with a 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 162 reviews.[6] and a 43/100 rating on Metacritic.[7] Salon described it as a "highly enjoyable summer thrill ride."[8] Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of four 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."[9] 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."[10] According to Rotten Tomatoes the film was ranked the fifth best video game film of all time.

Cradle of Life was nonetheless as heavily panned as its predecessor. Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald called it "another joyless, brain-numbing adventure through lackluster Indiana Jones territory,"[7] James Berardinelli said on ReelViews, "The first Tomb Raider was dumb fun; Cradle of Life is just plain dumb [...] the worst action movie of the summer."[11] 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."[12]

Box office performance[]

Despite the more favorable critical response, Cradle of Life suffered a disappointing opening weekend, as it debuted in fourth place with a take of $21.7 million,[13] a 55% drop from the original's opening gross of $47.7 million. The film finished with a domestic gross of only $65 million, therefore relying on the foreign box office to make a profit. Total earnings amounted to $156.5 million, which represented a loss of $118 million - nearly equal the cost of Cradle's budget alone - compared to the original's total take of $274.4 million.[14]

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.[15] 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,[16] and former Eidos senior executive Jeremy Heath-Smith, who was also credited as an executive producer in the film, resigned days after the game was released.[15]

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."[17]


Main article: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (soundtrack)


  • One of Angelina Jolie's stunt doubles was a man.
  • In the scene where Lara Croft and partner jump off a building wearing "flying suits", called wingsuits, the stunt was performed by the two men who developed the suits. No CGI, wires, nets, or other SFX were involved. This suit was invented by Patrick de Gayardon, who died in a parachute accident in April 1998 while testing a new type of parachute in Hawaii.
  • At one point in the movie, Lara Croft attacks a bad guy using very sophisticated movements with an antique rifle. Her movements are taken from Queen Anne Salute used by the U.S. Army Drill Team.
  • The film was banned in China because "it damaged China's reputation, giving the impression of a country in chaos, with no government and over-run by secret societies".
  • The skin on Lara's upper left arm is rarely seen exposed in this film. Angelina Jolie sports a large tattoo on her upper left bicep which requires make-up to cover up. The fact her left arm is rarely bared in this film (her opening scene in a bikini is shot in such a way her RIGHT arm, not her left, dominates) may be due to criticism that the tattoo was sometimes poorly concealed in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).
  • Initial trailers and publicity material credited the story to producer Lloyd Levin and production designer Kirk M. Petruccelli, as well as James V. Hart. However, just before the film was released the WGA decided to credit the story to Hart and Steven E. de Souza.
  • In Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Angelina Jolie had to wear bra padding in order for her bust size to measure up to the videogame character's. Jolie wears considerably less (and possibly no) padding in this film, as the decision was made to give Lara more realistic dimensions.
  • At the time of the film's release, Angelina Jolie said she had no desire to play the character a third time. Nonetheless, some planning for a third feature was undertaken until early 2004 when the studio announced plans for another Lara Croft film starring Jolie had been cancelled.
  • Just as in the first film, there are several scenes in which the live-action Lara mimics the computer game version, in particular a scene in which she climbs around a pagoda and pole-vaults to a helicopter. She also takes a nasty fall as the animated Lara was prone to do.
  • When Lara Croft first meets up with Terry Sheridan at his Barla Kala prison cell, "DOBRO POZHALOVAT" (Welcome) is carved on the cell wall.
  • Robson Green read for this film.
  • In the film, Lara and Terry walk into a mall in Hong Kong called Times Square, after which they make their way to a then-unfinished taller building called the IFC tower. The film treats the two buildings as if they are attached, but in fact they are a subway train ride apart. The large skylight that looks up the IFC tower from Times Square was digitally added into the scene.
  • The character of Jonathan Reiss exposes his private jet passengers to a form of Ebola. The "antidote" is a clear capsule with small black pills in it. In reality, this is a herbal medicine made in China and is a cure for an upset stomach.
  • Max Ryan screen-tested for the role of Terry Sheridan.
  • In the German version of the movie Til Schweiger dubbed himself in the role of Sean.
  • Angelina Jolie is the only actor/actress in the movie to be American-born.
  • Much of the background story of this film revolves around Alexander The Great AKA Alexander of Macedonia. Angelina Jolie actually portrays Alexander The Great's mother, Olympias, in Alexander (2004).
  • The film's official novelization suggests that the film takes place after the events of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, which would place it within the Core Design continuity.
    • This is however impossible due to the number of differences between the world of the two continuities.


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