out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over
|*Also starring: ||Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Sylvester Stallone, Bobby Edner, Ricardo Montalban, Holland Taylor, Danny Trejo, Robert Vito, Matthew O'Leary, Alan Cumming, George Clooney||
Review by Dustin Putman
2 stars out of 4
2001's "Spy Kids" and 2002's "Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams"
may not have had what it takes to become modern family classics, but
two things that could be counted on from writer-director Robert Rodriguez
was a level of pure imagination at work and an inspiring t heme concerning
the bonds of family. With the latter thrown out the window and the
former not as rampantly apparent, "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over" is overcome
by its gimmickthat of shooting in 3-D and requiring viewers to watch
with old-fashioned cardboard glasses. This technique, not used in
a big studio picture since 1991's "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare,"
is sometimes visually stimulating and other times rather chintzy.
Still, without the entertainment value of watching 3-D, this latest
and reportedly final installment in the series would be a complete
bust, both creatively and technically. As is, the film is a painless
diversion, but also an undeniable rush job that makes enough woefully
misguided storytelling decisions to place it as the worst of the three "Spy Kids" flicks.
As the movie begins, young Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara), once a much
sought-after child spy, has left his family and the organization to
find a different direction in his life. When he is info rmed that
his older sister, Carmen (Alexa Vega), has become trapped in a dastardly
new video game called "Game Over," programmed by the malevolent Toymaker
(Sylvester Stallone), Juni has no choice but to go inside the game
and save his sister. Once inside the increasingly dangerous levels,
Juni finds that other kids are also unknowingly trapped, their minds
taken over by the Toymaker.
The prologue of "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over" is so clever as to falsely
set the viewer up for something special, with the first picture's
bad-guy-turned-good Fegan Floop (the excellent Alan Cumming) instructing
when to put on and take off the 3-D glasses, and joking about how
the 3-D effects have a tendency to give people headaches. The cameo
from Alan Cumming (2003's "X2") is well-placed and endearing, which
is more than can be said for the careless and mystifying misuse of
every other character besides Juni. The first film's concept of a
spy family was carried over, if abbreviated, in the second effort,
but here Juni's parents, Gregorio (Antonio Banderas) and Ingrid (Carla
Gugino), are next to nonexistent. Banderas (2002's "Femme Fatale")
and Gugino (2001's "The One") appear for a dreadfully embarrassing
two-minute walk-on, while previous series lead costar Alexa Vega (as
sister Carmen) is only on hand for the third act. Other returning
actors, such as Emily Osment and Matthew O'Leary (2002's "Frailty")
as fellow spy kids Gerti and Gary Giggles, Steve Buscemi (2001's "Ghost
World") as mad scientist Romero, and Holland Taylor (2001's "Legally
Blonde") as Grandma Cortez, are relegat ed to parts just as small
or smaller in favor of new, and less interesting characters.
Daryl Sabara equips himself with charming aplomb as Juni Cortez, a
pint-sized hero who, nonetheless, is getting old enough to find a
girlfriend this time around (in the form of Demetra, a tough girl
stuck in the video game, played by newcomer Courtney Jines. As the
villainous Toymaker, Sylvester Stallone (2000's "Get Carter") has
fun with his comedic side, but is unconvincing as someone who is threatening.
Stallone always seems to be kidding around, rather than developing a real character.
The strongest element of "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over" is the accurate
and often thrilling way director Robert Rodriguez transforms the film
into a video game come to life. The 3-D effects are a step or two
above the norm, if only because there are some truly effective uses
of it without calling attention to themselves of being there only
"because" it's for 3-D shock value. Most everything else, unfortunately,
lacks the emotion, magic, and creativity of its predecessors. The
film is a cold experience, sloppy and mechanical, with its every plot
development predictable. There is no spontaneity, and no freshness.
A warning sign Robert Rodriguez should have recognized early on is
that you cannot title a movie "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over" when it has
nothing at all to do with spying. At least the "Game Over" part is
probably truthful, at least in terms of this quality-decreasing trilogy.
Copyright © 2003 Dustin Putman
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