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Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over

Starring: Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Rated: PG
RunTime: 89 Minutes
Release Date: July 2003
Genres: Action, Comedy, Kids

*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 MrBrown
3 stars out of 4

With _Spy_Kids_3-D:_Game_Over_, Robert Rodriguez reaffirms his status as the movies' resident renaissance man. To say that he does practically everything on the film except appear on-camera would be both accurate and, in a sense, an understatement, for every last frame of his latest family action-adventure spills over with the auteur's genius vision--quite literally this time around, given the added visual gimmick.

As far as shameless gimmicks go, though, the 3-D in _Game_Over_ is not only well-executed but organically integrated into the story. The setting for most of the film is the virtual reality world of a deadly video game, where young OSS operative Carmen Cortez (Alexa Vega) is trapped; it's up to her brother and now-"retired" spy Juni (Daryl Sabara) to find and free Carmen as well as defeat the game's evil creator, The Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone). The 3-D process allows Rodriguez to let his fervid imagination run even more wild. While he does throw in the a number of shameless, effect-exploiting moments of literally throwing things into the audience's face, the 3-D is more effective and memorable for how it immerses the viewer into the game world along with the characters. Of course, helping things immeasurably are the imaginative digital effects and Rodriguez's natural gift for staging and shooting spectacular action sequences. Even without the 3-D, set pieces such as a high-octane race and a faceoff between two giant robots would be surefire adrenaline rushes.

Juni doesn't embark on his mission without help, and this is where _Spy_Kids_3-D_ disappoints the most. The entire Cortez clan plays even less of a role here than in the last film, the Carmen-Juni buddy adventure that was _Island_of_Lost_Dreams_. _Game_Over_ feels as if it were written around the limited availability of most of the returning cast, for it is essentially a Juni solo adventure, with Grandpa (Ricardo Montalban), whom Juni pulls into the game, being the only other member of the family with any sort of substantial role. With the other family members appearing in greatly diminished capacities (including Carmen, which is all the more disappointing considering how Vega proved her immense star quality and promise by the end of the last picture), a gaggle of nondescript pre-adolescent video game beta testers more or less take their place as Juni's backup, and they aren't nearly as colorful or captivating as the Cortez clan. When Carmen and Juni's parents (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) and uncles (Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin) finally do turn up for the final showdown, it's a mixed blessing; we're glad to see them, but then we're reminded of just how much we missed them for most of the running time.

While Stallone's hammy and embarrassing turn as The Toymaker is a strong reason for anyone to wish "game over" for the _Spy_Kids_ franchise, I'm hoping that there will be at least one more film, for the franchise has yet to deliver the true family team adventure so tantalizingly promised at the end of the first film. The entertaining _Game_Over_ may be a disappointment compared to its better-rounded predecessors, but it shows that Rodriguez has more than enough imagination and pure talent to fuel further installments of the series.

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