Franchise Weekend – Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Dean Georgaris (Screenplay) Steven E de Souza, James V Hart (Story)

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Gerald Butler, Ciaran Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, Djimon Hounsou, Til Schweiger


Plot: Adventurer Lara Croft goes on a quest to save the mythical Pandora’s Box, before an evil scientist finds it, and recruits a former Marine turned mercenary to assist her.


Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Fun Enough Sequel


Story: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life starts when Lara Croft’s (Jolie) latest treasure hunt ends up with her team killed and her treasure stolen by Chen Lo (Yam) who is willing to sell the orb to arms dealer Jonathan Reiss (Hinds) a former MI6 agent turned evil, that wants to use the orb to locate Pandora’s Box which could bring about the next viral apocalypse on the world.

Lara working with MI6 is joined by disgraced former agent Terry Sheridan (Butler) as per her request as they race around the world to unlock the truth about Pandora’s Box before it ends up in the wrong hands.


Thoughts on Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life


Characters – Lara Croft the treasure hunting heroine that travels the world to locate the treasure of the world before they fall into the wrong hands. She is still the kick ass resourceful heroine we know, we see how her connections around the world can help and hinder her quest. Terry Sheridan is the disgraced former MI6 agent, he is granted freedom for information and his former connection with Lara puts him in the middle of the two sides. Jonathan Reiss is the arms dealer that wants Pandora’s Box to be able to sell to the highest bidders to create chaos in the world. he knows how to get results and is happy to kill anyone that crosses his paths. Bryce and Hillary return in the same roles getting the laughs and doing the background work Lara. Kosa is one of the many connections that Lara has around the world, they are good friends after the previous work and respect between the cultures.

PerformancesAngelina Jolie continues to be great in the role of Lara Croft, she had the perfect look for the character and handled the swagger about the character perfectly well. Gerald Butler is good as the shady partner to Lara through the film, giving us rough around the edges figure. Ciaran Hinds is good in the villainous role even if the character is everything you would expect them to be. Barrie and Taylor continue to give the humour when needed. The rest of the cast are fine as they just fill the role required.

StoryThe story here follows Lara Croft on her next treasure hunt where she faces a new shady society lead by weapons dealer who wants to unlock the power of Pandora’s Box. We get to see her globe trot as she is aided by MI6 to locate the mysterious and deadly item. This does continue keep us in the peril filled situations, the idea that Lara has connections around the world to make treasure hunting possible, the shady organisation and treasure that could cause major destruction to the world. This doesn’t test us to the same levels as the first film because as it ends up just following the same formula.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is big as we have bigger stunts going on through the film including a motorbike sequence along the Great Wall China, flying through the streets of Hong Kong and giant monsters in Africa. The adventure does take us around the world once again which is what we want, but we don’t get enough in tomb locations.

SettingsThe film does take us around the world as we see different locations some iconic, some secret tombs with historic stories.

Special EffectsThe effects are weaker than last time without taking us too far out of the film.

Scene of the Movie –
The Great Wall motorbike scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough Tomb location.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough sequel that the fans of the original should enjoy, but if you didn’t like the first one you won’t be enjoying as much.


Overall: Solid enough for a sequel.





Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Randall McCormick, Jeff Nathanson (Screenplay) Jan de Bont, Randall McCormick (Story)

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe, Temuera Morrison, Brian McCardie, Christine Firkins


Plot: A computer hacker breaks into the computer system of the Seabourn Legend cruise liner and sets it speeding on a collision course into a gigantic oil tanker.

Tagline – Rush hour hits the water.

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Passable Action Film


Story: Speed 2: Cruise Control starts as we meet Annie (Bullock) still trying to get her driving licence back, long past dating Jack (Because Keanu was smart enough not to come back) and has moved onto what she thinks is a quiet cop role of Alex Shaw (Patric) who is actually a SWAT officer too.

To break the tension, Alex takes Annie on a cruise, which happens to have John Geiger (Dafoe) onboard that has his own plans for the cruise. As John takes over the boat, he plans to evacuate the passengers which will leave him the ship, but Alex will get to the bottom of this and try to save the day.


Thoughts on Speed 2: Cruise Control


Characters – Annie is back, she still can’t drive and now she has fallen for another risk-taking cop in Alex, this is a character that strangely feels iconic for the genre, while not being bad character or being weak, she doesn’t do much over than panic. Alex is the risk-taking cop, this sounds familiar doesn’t it? He will do anything to save the day. John Geiger is the villain of the piece, he has made his plan and wants to operate through his plan, though he didn’t plan for Alex. Strangely he never plans to kill anyone.

PerformancesSandra Bullock is fine in her role here, she works for these films. Jason Patric just lacks the charisma Keanu had in the first one which doesn’t make you care about his character. Willem Dafoe is one of the most reliable villains in Hollywood, it is strange that he is good, but the character is largely forgettable.

StoryThe story is just like the first Speed, it has a criminal that takes a vehicle with the promise to kill everyone if demands aren’t met. This is the old tried and tested formula without being overly impressive and never reaches the levels of the first film. it does everything it needs to do while being easy to watch from start to finish.

Action/Crime/RomanceThe action sequences for the most part are entertaining even if they are overly long at times, like the sequence crashing into the island, just seems to go on and on. The romance involved is just more of the same mostly tagged on too.

SettingsThe film being set on the bottle, tries to do something different, but it just lacks the tension the first one has.

Special EffectsThe effects for the most part are terrible and even in places laughable.

Scene of the Movie –
While long the boat crashing into the harbour is fun watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The random dog sequence.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that gets a lot of bashing, it does everything it needs to for an action film, that just isn’t on the same level as the first film.


Overall: Sequel that works well enough.




Speed (1994)

logoDirector: Jan de Bont

Writer: Graham Yost (Screenplay)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Joe Morton, Jeff Daniels, Alan Ruck, Richard Lineback, Beth Grant


Plot: In a downtown high-rise building in L.A., a psychopathic bomber & extortionist rigs an elevator full of people to plummet into the basement if his $3-million demand is not met. When SWAT Officers Jack Traven & Harry Temple foils the bomber’s plan and rescue the hostages, the bomber retaliates. First he blows up a city bus, and then contacts Traven to warn him that a second bus has a bomb attached to it. Once that bus hits 50mph, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it will explode. The bomber also warns Jack that if any attempt at rescue is made, the bomb will also explode. Jack races down the freeway and manages to board the bus. When an accident injures the driver, young bus passenger Annie is forced to take over behind the wheel and keep the bus running at 50 in order to stay alive. Will Jack and his fellow SWAT members be able to stop the psychopathic bomber – or will the passengers be killed when the bus runs out of gas?


Verdict: 90s Action at its Best


Story: When it comes to action you really don’t need the strongest most open storyline. This is the prime example it simply put bomb on bus, can’t slow down or it goes boom and no one gets off the bus. Everything that happens will have you at the edge of your seat because with the thrilling opening we only get about five minutes before the main action starts and never lets up. In a time period when action films were at their best this one sometimes get forgotten which works to its advantage because people will go ‘oh Speed I’m going to watch that now’. This really is the perfect relaxaction film to sit back and enjoy. (9/10)


Actor Review


Keanu Reeves: Jack hot shot young cop who after taking a big risk saving everyone in the elevator opening sequence get called a hero. Howard has other ideas pitting Jack into another game, Jack has to take control of the bus and figure out a way to stop the mad man before it is too late. Good performance from Keanu showing he can make a leading action star. (9/10)


Dennis Hopper: Howard the man who wants his money, he builds bombs and thinks he has everything under control but after his first plan is foiled he has a backup which is a lot more deadly. Great performance from Hopper, who creates one of the most memorable villains in the 90s action genre. (9/10)


Sandra Bullock: Annie the wildcat who ends up becoming the bus driver after the real one is shot. She is full of fight and handles herself in the difficult situation she finds herself in. good performance from Sandra showing the star she was to become. (9/10)


Joe Morton: Captain McMahon Jack’s boss who will do anything to make sure the causality level stays at a minimum. Typical leader performance but for once he doesn’t have it out for the hero. (7/10)


Jeff Daniels: Harry Jack’s partner who gets wounded in the first encounter with the mad man, he fulfils the desk duties trying to catch the man once the second encounter starts. Good supporting performance who also has great chemistry with Keanu. (8/10)


Director Review: Jan de Bont – Great direction to create one of the best action films of all time. (9/10)


Action: From the opening sequences to the final sequences the action barely lets you breath. (10/10)

Thriller: Edge of your seat stuff from minute one to the final one. (10/10)

Settings: The setting is perfect for adding thrilling side to the story. (10/10)

Suggestion: This is a must watch for all, it is one of the best action films of all time. (Watch)


Best Part: The jump.

Worst Part: Hard to find one.

Action Scene Of The Film: Train scene.

Funniest Scene: The description of the bomb.

Favourite Quote: Howard ‘Pop Quiz Hotshot’

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has a bad one.

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Won 2 Oscars for Best Sound and Best effects, sound effects.

Box Office: $350 Million

Budget: $25 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

Tagline: Get ready for rush hour.


Overall: Brilliant Adrenaline Ride

Rating 92

Twister (1996)

loggoDirector: Jan de Bont

Writer: Michael Crichton, Anne-Marie Martin (Screenplay)

Starring: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lois Smith, Alan Ruck, Sean Whalen, Scott Thomson, Todd Field


Plot: Devoted Tornado chaser Jo Harding (Hunt) is trying to collect data on how tornado works. She has a full able team who each have a special expertise that helps her locate these storms. Jo’s ex-husband and former storm chase partner Bill Harding (Paxton) makes a surprise visit in her life trying to get her to finalise the divorce papers along with his new wife to be Melissa Reeves (Getz). After the first tornado Bill sets out to help Jo finish her life’s work all while going against Jonas Miller (Elwes) who has superior equipment but no true feeling about how tornadoes work. Both after the same goal but playing with the storms makes everything more dangerous.


Verdict: Storm Chasing thrills


Story: When you look at this story you get to follow the lives of storm chasers and their endless risks they take to help save lives. Keeping in line with the late 90s action films romantic angles were the characters are previously involved and trying to move on while one clings on. In the end you get a very easy to follow story leaving you to enjoy the action and suspense. (8/10)


Actor Reviews


Helen Hunt: Jo after her father is killed by a tornado she decides to dedicate her life to figuring out how to detect tornadoes to stop other families losing loved ones. She is very determined to achieve this and with her close knit team she uses her and former partner’s creation to do so. Hunt is great in the role showing all the emotions needed to show her characters true nature. (8/10)


Bill Paxton: Bill the former storm chaser who has taken up a new life and career but has to get his divorce papers complete before he can marry his new love. He finds his soon to be ex-wife and joins the chase of tornadoes again. Good from Paxton showing he can lead a film. (8/10)


Cary Elwes: Jonas the cocky ex-associate of Bill and Jo’s who has much more funding but doesn’t have the ability to predict tornadoes to the same level as Bill. Good performance but doesn’t get enough screen time to create a true rival that is being talked about. (7/10)


Jami Gertz: Melissa Bill’s new love who has no idea how extreme his former life was, joins the chase but ends up biting off more than she can chew. Good performance that shows how outs of place a non-chaser is. (7/10)


Director Review: Jan de Bont – Good direction mixing the action and calm well. (8/10)


Action: When the tornadoes hit the action gets going to a good level. (8/10)

Adventure: With the chase comes the adventure they always wanted. (7/10)

Settings: Each setting works well for the tornado scenes with the outdoor cinema working very well. (8/10)
Special Effects
: Great special effects to create the tornadoes and their destruction. (8/10)

Suggestion: I would suggest watching this it fits in nicely with all the late 90s action films that are just enjoyable. (Watch)


Best Part: Outdoor cinema tornado

Action Scene Of The Film: The final tornado

Scariest Scene: Night tornado

Believability: There are storm chasers out there and this could be their story. (5/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for 2 Oscars

Box Office: $494,471,524

Budget: $92 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

Tagline: The dark side of nature.

Trivia:This was the first movie released on DVD and the last to be released on HD-DVD


Overall: Storm Chasers the film

Rating 80