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Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over

from Film Forum, 07/24/03

A few film critics in the religious press have already seen Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, and are hailing it as another fine family film in director Robert Rodriguez's popular adventure series.

This episode follows the further adventures of the young brother-and-sister spy team, Juni (Daryl Sabara) and Carmen (Alexa Vega), as they are trapped inside a video game by the wicked Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone). As they work their way through various levels of the game, they discover connections between this villainous manipulator and their own grandfather (Ricardo Montalban). The high-spirited hyjinks are peppered with celebrity cameos, including appearances by George Clooney, Salma Hayek, and Bill Paxton.

Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) says, "The story is overly simplistic and often silly. The special effects are appreciated more for their budgetary restraints than for their 'wow' factor. What makes these films work is their attitude. They're fun."

Movieguide's critic claims, "Spy Kids 3-D has many spiritual parallels. First of all, it demonstrates the Christian, video game expression 'new level, new devil?' In our everyday lives as Christians, we will face many new devils, and some old ones, as we grow toward Christian maturity. The movie also extols family in that the boy calls his infirm grandfather into the game and draws on his wisdom at every turn. Especially noteworthy is Ricardo Montalban's great speech about forgiveness, humility, patience, and other virtues. His speech gives the movie its strong Christian premise at the end—that forgiveness conquers sin, or evil, and brings redemption."

from Film Forum, 07/31/03

Last week, Film Forum featured early reviews of the third installment in Richard Rodriguez's popular Spy Kids series. Those reviews were generally positive; critics voiced their praise for the movie's virtues.

This week, however, most critics are saying that good morals do not necessarily mean a good movie.

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says the series "has fallen flat on its sprockets with the third installment. [It] imparts a positive message about the importance of family, clearly condemning vengeance and extolling forgiveness. However, these laudable sentiments are consistently undermined by the film's saccharine sentimentality and preachy tone."

Steven Greydanus (Decent Films) writes, "It's cheerful, energetic, inoffensive, visually stimulating… . I was never bored." But he concludes that, like the second Spy Kids film, this one falls short of the original.

Mike Furches (Hollywood Jesus) observes, "Rodriguez gives lessons on the importance of working together and at one point even the importance of spirituality and family. There are also lessons on the importance of recognizing that even the bad things that happen can have positive influences and messages if one will but look for them." He still concludes, "It is weak and difficult to watch."

Highly aggravated, Michael Medved (Crosswalk) says it "may not be the worst movie of the summer (the competition is, after all, ferocious), but it is almost certainly the most annoying. Not even the most riveting gimmick, however, could save a movie so sloppily and childishly scripted, and with such an incoherent and slapdash plot."

But J. Robert Parks (Phantom Tollbooth) disagrees. "Though Spy Kids 3-D is clunky on occasion … it has a joy we rarely see in the movies. This is a group of actors and filmmakers having fun, and the audience joins right in." Parks is especially impressed with what he sees through the 3-D glasses: "There are scenes when things start flying at the audience for no reason other than to show off. Usually, I'd be skeptical of moments like that, but here they have an exhilarating impact."

Some praise it primarily for what the movie does not have. Caroline Mooney (Christian Spotlight) praises the film for having "zero profanity, sensuality, and extremely mild violence."

Steven Isaac (Focus on the Family) is likewise pleased to find "zero profanity, zero sexual content and zero drug/alcohol content. And there's even a good moral to walk away with. Not bad for a virtually plotless exercise in 3-D diversion."

Holly McClure (Crosswalk)is not so pleased. "I'm torn on this movie because on the one hand, the story supports family and sticking together—which I like. But the drab colors, weird characters, goofy plot and even goofier [Sylvester] Stallone take this trilogy back a step."