Now, I enjoy playing video games as much as the next freak with nerd-like tendencies ("My name is Linda. I'm a recovering DOOM addict."). But the keyword is "playing".... No one wants to look over the shoulder of someone clicking away with glee on their keyboard or game controls. Where's the fun in that? It's like being a backseat driver. And therein lies the problem with movies based on games: it is only as much fun as watching someone else play a game, especially knowing that the one with the controls will inevitably come out a winner in the end.
Are we ever in doubt that Lara Croft will get what she wants? I mean, she's played by Angelina Jolie, fer cryin' out loud (*whapish!*). The item in question in this film is a mysterious glowing orb, once owned by Alexander the Great, that contains a map to find the mythical Pandora's Box. A bad guy/ex-mad scientist played by Ciarán Hinds wants his hands on Pandora's Box, because, as the tale goes, once the box is opened, it unleashes the scourge of death upon all... and if destroying the majority of the human race isn't a way to get in the history books, I don't know what is.
In the quest to get the orb from the bad guys, Lara releases from prison a hottie-ex of hers (Gerard Butler, with a garbled Scottish brogue), who becomes her partner-in-crime as she globe-trots, blasting away with pistols in each hand anyone who gets in her way. The locales change from Greece, to China, to England, to Hong Kong, to Africa, and indeed it is most picturesque. So it's a shame that each scenic route is interrupted by lots and lots of carnage. In fact, The Cradle of Life is surprisingly violent. Was the first film this violent? I honestly don't remember. But I *did* find myself wincing occasionally at the often painful and icky ways that the bad guys are disposed of in this flick.
I hope Angie is getting big, whopping paychecks for these films. Heck, I appreciated her strength and honesty in her recent Barbara Walters interview, and have enjoyed her much more nuanced performances in films like Gia, Girl, Interrupted, or even the girl-power flick Foxfire. I KNOW she can act.
Angelina Jolie, of all people, doesn't need to wield guns and kick guys in the nuts to prove she's a bad-ass. We know you are, Angie. Now go out and kick some quality ass by making some good movies again!