Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over
review by Dan Lybarger, 25 July 2003

Fuzzy Logic

Frequently using locations not far from his Austin, Texas home, writer-director Robert Rodriguez offers discount budgets but still manages to pass on the thrills to his viewers. Rodriguez’s action and kiddie films succeed because of his enormous technical skill (he also edits, operates the camera, writes the music and performs other tasks) and because his films are clearly made with love.

His detractors might dismiss Rodriguez for making only popcorn flicks, but he can’t be labeled as a hack because his movies have a contagious passion that’s missing from similar mainstream movies. For example, Agent Cody Banks was made in Hollywood by some established hands, and it’s not nearly as fun or even as visually impressive as the weakest of Rodriguez’s Spy Kids films.

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, his latest, is indeed the clumsiest of the trilogy, but he still manages to insert just enough thrills and surprises to make the effort worthwhile. His latest adventure for sibling agents Carmen and Juni Cortez (Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara) lacks the cohesion of the first two films while it still maintains their kitchen sink approach. This time around a demented game designer named the Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone) manages to capture Carmen’s brain and wants to use his new offering to make slaves of the world’s children.

Juni enters the game (titled Game Over) himself in order to save her in the same manner that Neo enters the Matrix or Jeff Bridges went online in Tron. He quickly enlists the help of his grandfather (Ricardo Montalban) to battle the game’s numerous obstacles. Grandpa lost the use of his legs in an accident and is maybe a little too eager to help because the Toymaker is responsible. In the game, however, Grandpa now has the body of a superhero to go with his wizened intellect.

The logic of Game Over is a bit fuzzy. True, it is the work of a madman, but it would be nice if we could figure out how Juni and the other kids he winds up enlisting in his cause manage to advance. The adrenaline jolt of the first movies is blunted because it’s hard to determine how dangerous each level is.

Fortunately, nobody goes to see these movies for plotting. On the eye-candy side, Rodriguez eagerly explores the possibilities of shooting in 3-D. Objects fly at the viewer at regular intervals, and Rodriguez comes up with all sorts of cool ways to fill the “expanded screen.” We get to see races, trips to the moon, giant robot battles and other delights. Some of these tricks actually give the actors plenty of room to show off. Stallone not only gets to play a bad guy, but through some nifty makeup portrays the three consciences (a soldier, a scientist and some type of hippie) who tell the Toymaker what to think. Stallone approaches all four roles with a gusto that has been missing from his work for the last few decades. It’s also a treat to see Montalban use his urbane charm to do something other than commercials. Even if he didn’t get those cool CGI legs, he does project a dignity that goes hand-in-hand with his character’s new powers. In addition, no one else can say, “Corinthian leather” with quite the same flair.

Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino have smaller roles as the Cortez parents in this installment, but fans of the series will get to see all of their favorite characters make a bow toward the end. There’s even an amusing visit from everyone’s favorite hobbit during the second act.

The 3-D scenes are lengthy but offer breaks so that viewers can give their eyes a break. Older audiences might find the glasses a bit too small for comfort.

Spy Kids 3-D also offers an ending that’s refreshingly free of vindictiveness. In so many films aimed at kids, the story is resolved by having the bad guy meet some kind of hideous death (think of the fate of Scar in The Lion King or the villains in Agent Cody Banks). Spy Kids 3-D concludes with a much friendlier resolution and extols teamwork over conquest. Rodriguez gets a little heavy handed with this magnanimous approach, but it’s a better attitude for kids than vengeance.



Written and
Directed by:

Robert Rodriguez

Antonio Banderas
Carla Gugino
Alexa Vega
Daryl Sabara
Ricardo Montalban
Holland Taylor
Sylvester Stallone
Mike Judge
Salma Hayek
Matthew O'Leary
Emily Osment
Ryan Pinkston
Robert Vito
Bobby Edner
Courtney Jines

PG - Parental
Guidance Suggested.
Some material may
not be appropriate
for children under 13.







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