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Film / Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
aka: Lara Croft Tomb Raider The Cradle Of Life

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Two live-action films based on the Tomb Raider video game franchise, starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft.

The first film, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, was released in 2001. Lara is off looking for the Triangle of Light, which The Illuminati seek in order to control time. She has until the planetary alignment to do so, and has rival/love interest Alex West (Daniel Craig) in her way.

The second film, Lara Croft Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life, has Lara in search of Pandora's Box. Evil scientist Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds) seeks to weaponize the contents of Pandora's Box for biological warfare. Lara is paired with mercenary and former love interest Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), an ex-SAS man who betrayed the country and gets his chance to pay penance.

A reboot came out in 2018, simply titled Tomb Raider, starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft.


Both films provide examples of:

  • Action Girl: Lara Croft, tomboyish Adventurer Archaeologist able to stand her ground against any and all dangers. She's the only non-extra female character in both films, which makes her actions stand out even more.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Lara's job.
  • Alternate Continuity: To the games, of course. (Of course, at this point the games themselves have no less than three different continuities, just to add to the confusion.)
  • Badass Bookworm: Lara Croft does some of her fight training in her library.
  • Bamboo Technology: Most of mechanisms are this or magic.
  • Battle Butler: Lara's butler, Hillary (Played by Chris Barrie).
    • In the first movie, when Lara's mansion is being invaded by Manfred's men, Hillary dons a bulletproof vest and wields a shotgun. Too bad we never get to see him do anything. He shoots from the upper level at the mercenaries breaking into the vault. Unfortunately, he's outgunned.
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    • In the second movie Hillary acts as a sparring partner for Lara and handles himself quite well... until he makes Lara angry at him (as she was angry at the villains already.)
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Lara with both of her Love Interest in the films.
    • Lara and Alex in spades in the first movie. Dialogue between them when they first meet at the auction suggests they once had a history together, and Alex doesn't like that they're always fighting.
    • Lara and Sheridan in the second movie. Sheridan is a former lover that Lara openly distrusts, and they share a steamy makeout session partway through the film. And then they come into conflict over the disposition of Pandora's Box at the end of the film. Lara is forced to kill him to prevent him from taking it.
  • Big Bra to Fill: Angelina Jolie wore padding in the first film to appear more like the famously busty character, but didn't in the second film.
  • Braids of Action: Lara is wearing her iconic braid most of the time, especially in the first film.
  • Brainy Brunette: Lara has long brown hair and is very intelligent.
  • Combat Pragmatism: Zig-Zagged with Rule of Cool. Especially obvious in the first film during the fight with some animated statues in collecting the first half of the Triangle.
  • Cunning Linguist: Lara can speak various languages due to her job as an Adventurer Archaeologist. During the movies she speaks Mandarin, Cambodian and a Siberian dialect.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Both films are all about searching ancient sites for equally ancient artifacts.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Bryce who designs all of Lara's equipment.
  • Guns Akimbo: Lara is dual wielding pistols. It's Tomb Raider, what did you expect?
  • Hollywood Action Hero: A rare female example, but Lara fits the bill in both movies.
  • Lady of Adventure: Lara is one, to the displeasure of Hillary who would much rather she be a Proper Lady.
  • Male Gaze: The Movie. There is enough fanservice thrown in to gather a... special Periphery Demographic.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Alex West and Terry Sheridan. Both with Shirtless Scene
  • Ms. Fanservice: Lara Croft, naturally. The first film alone turned Angelina Jolie into a sex symbol.
  • Ret-Canon:
    • The success of the first movie led to certain elements to appear in the Crystal Dynamics reboot of the game series. The most notable is Lara's dad being an archaeologist named Richard. The main hall of Croft Manor in those games also has a very similar layout to the version in the films.
    • Appears to carry over into the 2013 reboot as well, when Grim mentions Lara's father "Dicky Croft." Rise of the Tomb Raider also seems to reference the first film with Lara continuing one of her father's expeditions after he was killed by the antagonists.
  • Role Called: A notable case, since the game series was back then simply called "Tomb Raider". When Crystal Dynamics took the franchise over, they also added the "Lara Croft:" part into the title of their games.
  • Servile Snarker: Lara's butler Hillary snarks at her in both movies.
  • She's Got Legs: Lara often wears outfits that show her long legs and thighs.
  • Smart Guy: Bryce (Noah Taylor), Lara's friend who works for her to be her tech support.
  • Starring Smurfette: Both movies star Angelina Jolie as the titular heroine, but pretty much all other characters are men.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Bryce to Lara in both movies.

The first film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Bid: When meeting with clock expert Wilson at an auction house, Lara takes a seat with the auction group to wait until he's free. When he gives her a little hello wave, she waves back - which the auctioneer takes as a bid for 2.4 million pounds. Luckily, she's outbid moments later, much to her evident relief.
  • Action Prologue: The film opens with Lara fighting a giant robot. This has no bearing on the rest of the plot, and is markedly different in tone from the rest of the film. Of course, it was just a training simulation.
  • Always Know a Pilot: When Lara Croft needs to get to Cambodia fast, she smiles at a framed photo of herself with a team of British special forces. Cut to her being parachuted out of an RAF transport aircraft over the Cambodian jungle.
  • Ammunition Backpack: Lara could reload her pistols using a mechanism in her backpack called "bandolier tree" in the Novelization.
  • Ancient Artifact: The Triangle of Light, which dates at least back to early Bronze Age, and grants its bearer the power to control time.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Accept no substitute. The Illuminati are seeking the Triangle of Light, and the power it grants to control time. The film hints they've been seeking it for generations, with the artifact itself resembling the all-seeing eye that is part of the film Illuminati's symbology.
  • Animating Artifact: Part of the elaborate idol mechanism in the temple of the Wheel of Time involves a pendulum breaking an orb filled with animating fluid that brings various guardian statues to life. These statues then go after Lara and her party.
  • Are These Wires Important?: Lara pulls out a few wires from her practice robot and it seemingly deactivates. When it turns back on, it then oddly responds to her command to stop.
  • Artistic License – Astronomy: Everything to do with the planetary alignment in the first movie was made to serve the needs of the plot.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Powell does much better than most of his soldiers during the fight with the statues in Cambodia, and is able to match Lara blow-for-blow during the final fight.
  • Bad Boss: During the fight with the living statues, Powell uses one of his own men as a human shield when he is about to be killed by a statue, killing the soldier and saving his own life.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Lara, although victorious, is bleeding from the head and mouth from her fight from Powell.
  • Between My Legs: During the fight between Lara and her practice robot S.I.M.O.N.
  • Blunt "Yes": When Lara confronts Alex over him working for the villains.
    Alex: I suppose you think I'm a greedy, unscrupulous sellout who'll do just about anything for money?
    Lara: Yes, that's right.
    Alex: ...Well the money bit's true I guess.
  • Book-Ends: The film starts and ends with Lara fighting her training robot SIMON.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Powell grabs one of his Mooks to block a thrown spear. One he could've easily dodged.
  • Car Fu: The fight scene at Lara's garage culminates in Lara driving a motorcycle up to a goon, slamming on the brakes, spinning around on the front wheel and decking him in the head with the rear tire as it comes around.
  • Casting Gag: Lara Croft's father is played by Jon Voight, father of Angelina Jolie.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: "Julius, make a mental note. Kill Miss Croft if she attempts any such thing."
  • Chainsaw Good: S.I.M.O.N. is equipped with two chainsaw arms, which Lara uses against him.
  • Condensation Clue: Lara leaves a message saying "Traitor" in Alex's bathroom mirror.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster for the first film featured Lara in her trademark short shorts and tank top. In the actual film, she doesn't wear this clothes combo at any point; in the first action sequence, she's wearing the short-shorts but has a t-shirt, and later in the film, she's wearing her sleeveless shirt but wears long pants with it.
  • Cutting the Knot: Lara finds the old clock containing the Plot Coupon (conveniently in her own basement), and Bryce tries to disassemble it, carefully and slowly, keeping track of which screw goes where. Lara will have none of it and smashes the clock to pieces with a hammer.
  • Deadly Training Area: Lara has one in her manor in which she fights a Killer Robot programmed to kill her. Which she requested to make it more challenging.
  • Dismantled Macguffin: The Triangle of Light is split into two pieces that were "hidden at the ends of the earth". Then it turns out that the actual number is three.
  • Dull Surprise: Played for Laughs. When a bunch of armed mercenaries break into the Croft manor though the roof windows with clear intention to kill Lara, her reaction is to smirk ironically, slightly tilt her head and let out barely audible sigh... before proceeding to kick their asses without breaking a sweat.
    Lara: [just as the mercenary cocks his rifle] Hmph.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: When Lara confronts Alex naked she gives him a thorough once over before she leaves, complete with a Fascinating Eyebrow.
    Lara: [looks him up and down and quirks an eyebrow] Mm. Always a pleasure.
    Alex: [as she leaves] Now for a cold shower.
  • Exposed to the Elements: When Lara shows up in Siberia all she's wearing is a shirt and pants that aren't much heavier or cover her any more than what she wore in Cambodia, with only a rather lightweight cape and hood with fur trim (worn open, of course) to keep her warm. Everyone else is in heavy parkas. She even takes a swim in an underground pool of water, though there is some very bizarre temporal mechanics at play in that cavern, which may partly justify it.
  • Faceless Goons: During the attack on the mansion the Mooks are wearing either noctovisors or balaclavas. Or both.
  • Fast-Roping: Fast-roping minions drop through the Croft Mansion's skylight while Lara is doing indoors bungee jumping. They would probably have done a lot better if they had stayed on the ground.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Tomboyish Lara is a bad enough cook she can even ruin a prepared meal in the microwave.
  • Frigid Water Is Harmless: The final piece of the MacGuffin is in Siberia. Lara shows up in a shirt and pants that aren't much heavier or cover her any more than what she wore in Cambodia, and even takes a swim in an underground pool of water to no ill effect.
  • Hair Flip: Lara is shown doing this while showering.
  • Hates Wearing Dresses: Lara is quick to dismiss Hillary when he offers her a dress to wear.
  • Hollywood Science: During the planetary alignment, there is a view in space, showing all nine (at the time) planets. The actual planets are too far apart to be seen in such a manner.
  • It's All About Me: Manfred Powell, with bits of Ambition Is Evil. He works for Illuminati, sure. He is Illuminati. But he doesn't give a damn about their schemes so he kills the leader in order to take the Triangle of Light for himself and no-one else.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: An entire squad of mercs with assault rifles and fancy night-vision equipment break into Lara's mansion and somehow never manage to shoot her as she's jumping and running around, taking them out with karate kicks.
  • Interrupted Bath: Lara interrupts Alex while he's taking a shower.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • The scene where there is a large procession of Buddhist monks was not originally in the script. Simon West decided to shoot it because the monks just happened to be having their procession, and agreed to be filmed for the movie.
    • The "duck boat" transports at the end of the film were spotted on location, and the filmmakers requested to borrow them because they looked cool.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Lara seems to believe in this and firmly refuses to wear the dress Hillary picks for her.
  • Scary Black Man: The leader of Powell's Mooks is tall, silent, and black.
  • Scenery Censor: Daniel Craig's privates are blocked by a conveniently placed chair when Lara interrupts him in the shower.
  • Scenery Porn: The Cambodian part of the first film has long shots of ruins covered with lush vegetation.
  • Screw Destiny: Thanks to Time Travel, Alex survives, and Powell is badly wounded with his own knife, but Lara's father is still dead, so it's Zig-Zagged with You Can't Fight Fate.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl:
    • Lara invokes this when she steps out of the shower and finds Hillary holding a pair of heels and a dress for her.
      Hillary: I'm only trying to turn you into a lady.
      Lara: Mm... [walks right past him and indignantly drops the towel she was wearing]
      Hillary: And a lady should be modest.
      Lara: Yes, a lady should be modest.
    • For a male variant, Alex makes no effort to cover himself when caught naked by Lara.
  • Shoulders-Up Nudity: Lara is shown naked from the shoulders up while showering, with a few shots of her bare back.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Raiders of the Lost Ark — just watch carefully how Lara deals with a stone statue that is showboating with its sword.
    • The first film includes two to director Simon West: the last name of the main male character Alex West, and the training robot S.I.M.O.N..
  • Shower Scene: Male and female shower scenes.
    • Lara has one at the beginning of the film after her training sequence.
    • Alex later has one in Cambodia which is interrupted by Lara.
  • Sideboob: When Lara discards her Modesty Towel.
  • Smug Snake: Manfred Powell is a cunning member of the Illuminati inner circle, scheming his way to the top and not above killing his boss.
  • Stripperiffic: Some of Lara's outfits barely cover her. The second film toned it down to make it easier for the make-up artist covering Jolie's tattoos.
  • Tank-Top Tomboy: Lara prefers wearing this kind of attire since she doesn't see herself as a lady, much to Hillary's frustration.
  • Temple of Doom: The final site in Siberia from the first film is ruins of the temple originally hosting the Triangle of Light, with all the six-thousand-years-old mechanisms (and traps) still in working condition, if only a bit dusty.
  • Time Stands Still: One of the functions of the Triangle of Light.
  • Thunderbolt Iron: The Triangle of Light was forged from the metal found in a meteorite crater.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Lara during her Shower Scene and right after when she drops her towel in front of Hillary.
  • Underwater Kiss: Lara Croft does this on her rival Alex West after he got shot.
  • Unorthodox Reload: Lara has magazines strapped to her thighs by their bases, allowing her to simply swing her guns down onto them, and a special backpack that lowers them behind her in pairs, allowing her to just jam the guns behind her back and presto, instant reloads.
  • Use Your Head: This, followed by a throat chop, is how Lara finishes her final fight against Powell.
  • We Can Rule Together: Powell tried to pull it on Lara. Twice. Not that it worked.
  • When the Planets Align: The Triangle of Light can only be accessed during a planetary alignment that occurs once every 5,000 years.
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: The Triangle of Light.
  • Wicked Cultured: Powell again. He is soft-spoken (with a cultured British accent), well-educated and mild mannered and has a massage in his camp in Cambodia, among other things.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: The movie would have ended a lot sooner if Lara Croft had followed her father's instructions and destroyed her half of the Triangle of Light. Or her father could smash it instead of leaving it to her with instruction to destroy. Or 5000 years ago, if one considers that the individuals that had separated the Triangle could have simply destroyed the pieces, instead of hiding them at the corners of the Earth.
  • You Killed My Father: Powell reveals he killed Lara's father just before the two fight at the end of the first film.

The second film provides examples of:

  • Double Entendre: When a bikini-clad Lara gets in the boat after having splashed some men while riding her jetski:
    Lara: Hello, boys. You're all wet.
  • Durable Deathtrap: Present in both films, but taken Up to Eleven in the second.
  • Hollywood Geography: If the establishing shots of Croft's travels in China were to be taken literally, it means that she landed somewhere in the Yangtze River Valley in Hubei (in south-central China), rode a motorcycle all the way to the Great Wall in northern China, then turned around and went back south to Xi'an for the fight in the Terracotta Tomb, and then went to Shanghai as she originally intended—that's about 4000 kilometers in rough terrain and she covered it all in a single afternoon.
  • Mad Scientist: Jonathan Reiss is a cross between this and Corrupt Corporate Executive.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Lara is wrapped up in one when she seduces Terry and handcuffs him to the foot of her bed to interrogate him.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the second half of the film, there's a scene where Lara sets up the orb to find the location of the Circle of Life- meant to be a serious scene that will kickstart the climax of the film. Only catch? She's doing this in a random family's house, all while the Chinese dub of SpongeBob SquarePants plays on TV in the background. Note 
  • New Old Flame: Terry Sheridan for Lara.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Reiss is a scientist, not a fighter, and lets his men do all the dirty work. Even when he fights Lara at the very end, he only lasts as long as he does because he's got a gun and she doesn't. Even after being shot in the arm, Lara still manages to get in several good hits and toss him into a pool of acid.
  • Pillow Pistol: Terry goes to put his gun under his pillow, but apparently the bed was already taken by Lara as there was already a pair of pistols under the pillow.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: More like Real Life Designs the Costumes, this film puts Lara in more outfits with longer sleeves. This was done because the makeup used to conceal Angelina Jolie's tattoos during the filming of the first film was not as effective as it was supposed to be.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: The establishing character moment for the bioterrorist/scientist villain, Jonathan Reiss, is him in a private jet with his clients. He poisons one who snitched on him to Interpol, intoning "this is the sound of a traitor dying" as he gurgles his last.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Gus Petraki and his sons Nicholas and Jimmy are friends of Lara Croft and they do underwater archaeology with her. They are killed in the very beginning of the film just to show that the ones who try to get Pandora's Box are dangerous.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Pandora's Box - Meaningful Name, isn't it?
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: Lara climbing out of the ocean into her boat in a bikini.
  • Threatening Shark: Parodied, when surrounded by sharks, Lara Croft punches one in the nose and proceeds to ride it to the surface.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Although she kicked ass and knocked off a few mooks in the first time, Lara acts more like a female James Bond with a license to kill, leaving behind a high body count and outright warning Sheridan that she is perfectly capable and willing to kill him if necessary.
  • Upper-Class Equestrian: Lara rides a horse around her considerable family estate in one scene.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Lara Croft Tomb Raider The Cradle Of Life


Always A Pleasure

Lara sneaks into Alex apartment while he's showering to confront him and gives him a thorough once over before leaving.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (23 votes)

Example of:

Main / EatingTheEyeCandy

Media sources:

Main / EatingTheEyeCandy