Lara Croft: Game Over

'Tomb Raider' sequel is second-rate

OK, here's the situation. You're stuck alone at the bottom of the ocean without an oxygen tank. What do you do?

In "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life," Croft's solution is to nick her arm with a knife to attract a shark with blood so she can ride it to the surface. And not just any old shark. It's a Great White that makes Jaws look about as menacing as Nemo on Ritalin.

But when it comes in for the kill, Croft simply bops it on the nose, straddles the dazed creature's dorsal fin, and then rides it as if she's Lizzie McGuire frolicking with Flipper in Sea World.

It's one of the more plausible scenes in the movie.

But what do you expect in a film based on the video game about a gun-toting archaeologist who seems to have been dreamed up by '70s director Russ Meyer?

At least the "Tomb Raider" sequel stays true to its source material. Here, Croft's quest is to find Pandora's Box before a mad scientist can get there first, open it, and unleash a series of second-rate special effects upon an unsuspecting world.

Unlike its 2001 predecessor, this sequel opts for a two-player strategy. Lead actress Angelina Jolie is aided by Gerard Butler in the role of a Scottish mercenary soldier who is Croft's ex-lover.

In between their battles with faceless henchmen, there's an attempt at romance and, later, pathos. Judging by the results, emoticon symbols were probably substituted for actual dialogue in the script.

In sum, this is little more than an impressive showreel of Cirque du Soleil-type stunts by Jolie, who is all Jennifer Garner-like pouts, and "Masterpiece Theater" British accent.

To which I say, "Game Over."

Rated PG-13; contains violence and sexuality.

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