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Right up front, I have to say I liked LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE ($30), which is saying an awful lot for a movie sequel based upon a video game. When they created the video game character of Lara Croft, obviously someone was thinking that it would be cool if they stuck a really hot babe in Indiana Jones type adventures, and then outfitted her with all the marvelous weapons and other toys one would find in a James Bond movie. Angelina Jolie is ideally cast as the video game action heroine- looking very much like her digital counterpart and she brings just the right combination of sensuality and toughness to the role. Not to mention that Jolie looks absolutely fabulous during the film’s numerous action and stunt sequences.

The plot of LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE is grounded in a bit more reality than its predecessor, although not by too much. This time out, the British Secret Service comes seeking the unique skills of the adventuress/archeologist, when it is learned that a bio-terrorist has stolen an ancient artifact, which is actually a map to the location of the ultimate biological weapon- Pandora’s Box and the unstoppable plague contained within. What follows is a trek around the globe, first to track down the map, then a race to actual location where Pandora’s Box has been hidden and remains undisturbed by man. The cast of LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE also features Gerard Butler, Ciarán Hinds, Christopher Barrie, Noah Taylor, Djimon Hounsou, Til Schweiger and Simon Yam.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Not surprisingly, LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE looks absolutely terrific- sporting an image that is very crisp and highly defined. Colors tend to be highly saturated and favor the warmer end of the spectrum. Flesh tones are very appealing and remain fairly natural looking in relation to all the vibrant hues around them. Blacks appear pretty accurate, while the whites are clean and contrast is generally very good. Shadow detail is also very good, plus the picture produces a nice sense of depth. The film element used for the transfer is virtually pristine and produces only a mild grain structure in places. Digital compression artifacts are never a problem.

LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE comes with a great sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The sound design takes the aggressive vein that is typical of the action movie genre, which is probably why I loved every moment of it. All of the channels are highly active, with sound effects panning around the soundstage in a very convincing manner. Of course, surround junkies are certain to love the nicely deployed rear channels. Dialogue reproduction is very good, with the voices having a warm, natural timbre and excellent intelligibility. Fidelity is excellent for both the film’s sound effects and Alan Silvestri’s fine musical score. The bass channel is deep, percussive and certain to give one’s subwoofer a good workout. A French 5.1 channel track is also provided on the DVD, as are English subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice complement of supplements. Director Jan De Bont is on hand for a very solid running audio commentary that gives one a good deal of technical detail on the movie’s production. There are also seven deleted/alternate versions of scenes provided on the DVD, these scenes prove to be interesting, but obviously were removed for pacing or structural reasons. In the featurette section one will find the following: Training runs eight minutes and looks at Angelina Jolie’s preparation for this highly physical role, one in which she did many of her own stunts. Vehicles and Weapons offers a four-minute look at the film’s modified hardware. Stunts clocks in at roughly eleven minutes and looks at the film’s revved up action. Visual Effects spends eleven minutes showing how a number of the sequences were achieved through practical and CGI effects. Scoring spends four minutes with compose Alan Silvestri and features a glimpse into an actual recording session. Other supplements include Gerard Butler’s Screen Test, as well as music videos for Did My Time by Korn and Heart Go Faster by The Davey Brothers.

LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE is an enjoyable action movie based upon the popular video game character. Paramount really has done a great job with the DVD, producing terrific looking and sounding presentation, as well as some solid supplements. If you are an action fan, Tomb Raider game player, or just enjoy looking at Angelina Jolie, you can’t go wrong in picking up a copy of LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE on DVD.



Lara Croft Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life (Widescreen Edition) (2003)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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