Monday, 9 March 2009

Movie Review - Spy Kids 3D

Well, Spy Kids 1 was fresh, funny, original, inventive, and just plain wonderful. Spy Kids 2 wasn't bad, it lacked the freshness of the first but that's the way with all sequels. It focused a lot more on gadgets and came across as a kind of cross between "James Bond" and "Clash of the Titans". But it was still jolly good fun. Sadly Floop, a really good character from the first film, had little more than a cameo appearance. So how about Spy Kids 3d?

I've just got back from watching it tonight. And I must say, I did enjoy it. For those who don't know (or can't guess) and international organisation, headed by President George Clooney (who decides in this one he wants to be President of the United States instead) employs not only adults but also kids. After the escapades of the first two films, Juni Cortez(the real star of this film, if you don't count the special effects anyway) has decided to retire. But he is forced to come out of retirement when it turns out that he is the only one who can save his sister, who is trapped inside... a computer game. And the Toy Maker, played superbly by Sylvester Stallone(to my surprise, I have to admit), who created the game, is planning to take over the world by means of enslaving all the world's kiddies inside this game...

So Juni has to go into the game to save Carmen (played by Alexa Vega, who incidentally sings the title song too - talented little thing, isn't she?). Time to put on those 3d glasses.

And we are hurled into... well, what Tron might look like if it had been made today. Which is not really a bad thing; I liked Tron a lot, whatever critics have slated it for, it was a good film. (And a good book too, I might add. Respect to Brian Daley). However, although both Tron and Spy Kids 3d were rather tongue-in-cheek about the whole thing, Tron had 2 vital things that this more recent offering hasn't got - strong characters and, even more importantly, a strong storyline. It was also a lot darker in tone and has a proper love interest, but I don't think that's really a telling factor.

The 3d was something of a disappointment to me. It was okay and certainly better than seeing the film without 3d (in fact, that wouldn't really be worth anyone's time), but having seen better examples like, ofr instance, Pirates 3D at Thorpe Park (I think it was Thorpe Park, anyway...) and (okay here's something you across the Atlantic can relate to) Terminator 3D at universal Studios (when I watched it the second time the woman next to me nearly had a baby!), this doesn't look like much. I think they've avoided any of the normal "wasp / sharp metal thing / recently exploded fragment flying straight at you" stuff in order to keep the rating down for younger kids. Which is nice for them, but a shame for the rest of us! Even the scenes where you're flying through a tunnel etc didn't do all that much for me. Unless, of course, I wasn't wearing the glasses right...

The only other real star of the film is Ricardo Montalban as Grandpa, who has great fun in his role. (The spy agency manage to hack him into the game to help Juni). There's also a take on Matrix (I assume) - the Beta Testers who are there believe in the coming of "The Guy", who is the only one who can complete the game...
The humour is still here and occasionally works, but it definatly isn't as funny as the previous films in the series. Daryl Sabara is okay as Juni, but at some scenes I wondered if the act of carrying almost the entire film wasn't a bit too much for his young shoulders. The other characters in the film - George Clooney, Antonio Banderas (probably the best thing in the first two films), Elijah Wood etc have little more than cameos, and hardly anyone is on screen for more than 5 minutes total.

It's not that it's a bad movie. But it's certainly the weakest of the series, and feels like a rushed job - get the character acting out of the way, there's 3d effects to be made room for! And even they're not spectacular.

But even so I enjoyed it. Rating this movie was difficult, but all things considered I've given it a 3 star rating. There are certainly a lot worse ways you could spend a couple of hours, but then again there are also a lot of better ways. Don't expect too much from it or you'll be disappointed. I probably won't ever bother to watch it again - watching it outside of its 3d environs would be a waste of time.

I suspect kids will enjoy this a lot more than I did, and perhaps will not notice too much the weakness of the plot and characters. Worth seeing once, I think, but not again. Go to a cheap showing if you can!

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