Spy Kids 3D: Game Over

| August 5, 2003

All films should be in 3-D. Not only do they make the audience move in their seats and younger children try to touch the objects coming towards them (which is too cute for words!), they have cool accessories. The cheap little 3D glasses that I am now wearing non stop are courtesy of SpyKids 3D: Game Over. This is the third, and I believe, final installment in the Spy Kids franchise all of which were written and directed by Robert Rodriguez.
I loved this film. I thought Rodriguez took us to a new level of kid’s films with this fast paced hyperkinetic film, and I am cheering him for his effort. I do not know of any other critic who enjoyed it or even thought of it as a movie worth seeing but I have to disagree with the pack and carry on waving my love without hesitation. I saw this as a frenzied, innovative summer film that is just pure fun and kid driven.
The first two Spy Kids films have been well received by the critics and audience. Spy Kids (2001) was a fun filled adventure any person, regardless of age, could enjoy. It had a smart plot with kid friendly action. Nothing was too scary, but it wasn’t too watered down either. The second installment in the series, Spy Kids 2 was just as entertaining as the first, albeit very similar. Spy Kids 3 is decidedly different in its approach, because it is first and foremost a 3-D film and then an action film.
The opening sequence shows Juni Cortez working as a private investigator after having left the agency under cloudy circumstances. The movie never really explains why he left, but rather moves forward as he is talked back into the fold. The agency gets him to agree to help them dismantle a video game which is controlled by an evil man named, The Toymaker (Sylvestor Stallone). Juni’s sister, Carmen Cortez (Alexa Vega) is trapped in this game unable to break the code and she is the trump card which the agency uses to get Juni working for them again. He must save his sister and in the process destroy the Toymaker’s power. The unfortunate part of this plot is that it allows Juni to be the star of the film rather than Carmen. It’s not as though Juni’s character is not interesting enough to hold a film, but rather Carmen is such a great character it is a shame to lose her in this film. I found it impossible to believe Rodriguez chose to put Stallone in more scenes than Vega and feel certain someone or something (read: alcohol or drugs) influenced him to make this unfortunate choice. Stallone’s character was virtually impossible to understand because Stallone is unable or unwilling to pronounce his lines clearly and I hate him for this.
Juni meets many characters along his journey inside Game Over, including a girl who turns out to be not a real girl after all. All the people inside the game change their appearance or develop skills they don’t have on the outside world. For instance, Juni’s grandfather (Ricardo Montabalm) is unable to walk in the outside world, but when Juni requests his help inside the game he is transformed into a man who can walk, run and do almost anything. I find this idea of using the game as a way for people to become what they want to become interesting. I do think this is one reason video games and role playing games, in general, are so interesting to people. They can be something they may not be in real life. I mean, obviously, not to this level but the idea of fantasy games is highly appealing to many of us.
Robert Rodriquez is a fan of fast movies with a lot of special effects so it is no surprise that he has given us this chaotic, 3-D family film as his final installment of his highly praised franchise. From Dusk till Dawn is a perfect example of his love of mixing, action, fantasy and special effects.
While Spy Kids 3-D is admittedly not as good as the first two, it is still a great film. I have to say I enjoyed the wit and enthusiasm of the first two, more than the special effects of the third. The first two films in this series showed us how kid’s films can be about action without being bogged down in moral spoon feeding. While this film is not as subtle in its message as the first two, it is inspiring to see Latino kids playing superheroes. All the good characters are still Latin and not ONE of them has blond hair or speaks down to adults. It is a refreshing change from the family films of the past where every kid has a quicker wit and sarcasm that outweighs every adult in the film. Robert Rodriguez has shown the world that kids deserve good films for them and about them and I only hope other directors take his lead and run with it.

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