Picks and Pans Review: Lara Croft Tomb Raider

updated 08/04/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/04/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Cradle of Life
Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler

You can't really argue that Jolie has deepened her performance as an aristocratic action-adventuress—there's only so much an actress can do with a character based on a computer game—but in this second Tomb Raider she's ever so slightly droller, even sexier (see page 84). In a tight wetsuit, sizing up some fresh, easily defeated peril, she suggests a lady seal entertaining naughty thoughts. Other times, talking in a throaty British accent while swinging a sword, she's like Elizabeth Hurley with ten weeks' paramilitary training. Which is not a bad idea.

Plot? The fabled Pandora's Box, from which all man's woes are said to have flown out like Satan's hornets, really exists, and an evil Nobel-laureate scientist wants to exploit it as a weapon of mass destruction. Director Jan De Bont (Twister) stages the big action scenes with clean efficiency. Only one of them, set in a dead forest populated by monsters, has real magic, but at least this sequel has more life to it than the first Tomb Raider. (PG-13)

BOTTOM LINE: Better Crofted

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