Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Rating: PG (for action sequences and intense action)
Release Date: July 25, 2003
Actors: Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Cheech Marin, Ricardo Montalban, Holland Taylor, Danny Trejo, Courtney Jines, Matt O'Leary, Alan Cumming, Emily Osment, Ryan James Pinkston, Robert Vito, Sylvester Stallone, Bill Paxton, Steve Buscemi
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Special Notes: Rodriguez got some of these famous stars to appear in his movie as a favor to him. He has financed, produced and written all three movies in the "Spy Kids" series.
Plot: This time the action takes place in the virtual reality world of a video game. When Carmen Cortez (Vega) is trapped inside a video game, it's up to Juni (Sabara) to use his head and get her out. It appears the power hungry "Toymaker" (Stallone) has a villainous plan to take over the youth of the world, so it's up to Juni and Carmen to battle through the tough levels of a three-dimensional game to outwit and defeat him. Banderas, Gugino, Montalban and George Clooney also briefly appear late in the film. Also returning are Steve Buscemi as the mad scientist Romero, Alan Cumming as Floop, Bill Paxton as Dinky Winks, Cheech Marin as Uncle Felix, and Danny Trejo as Uncle Machete. Salma Hayek also makes an appearance, and look for Elijah Wood in a scene where he plays a kid who saves the day – a game boy hero!
Good: This latest chapter of the "Spy Kids" trilogy directed by Robert Rodriguez has an unusual twist – 3D glasses. They're not my favorite, but I'll go into that later. I appreciated the fact that there was again an emphasis on families sticking together and helping each other in tough times. However, none of the real "family" stuff happened until the end of the movie. Montalban gets to be part of the main action (because his character can walk inside the game), and he gives his grandson sage advice concerning forgiveness and treating your enemies fairly. And then Stallone … as a villain in a video game? Oh, Rocky, how could you! Rambo what's up with that? In fact, Stallone plays four characters (three other personalities of his villain nature), and he does a decent job but he's kind of stiff and "out of place." I know he took this role because he has kids and wants to act in a movie they can see, but I think he could have done better. But then, he gave it his best shot. The one thing I did like was the emphasis on family (sticking together and supporting each other), but it's such a small part of an otherwise two-dimensional story that it doesn't come off as strong as it did in the first two. I also enjoyed seeing some of the same characters from the first two movies wind up in the last scene to help save the day ? nice touch and good idea.
Bad: Okay, about the glasses. I must be getting old or don't quite enjoy the fine art of 3-D as much as kids do, but I didn't like the glasses because they were cheap and made it hard to watch the movie. The one side has red, the other blue and after wearing them for over an hour, I actually got a little motion sickness. Or maybe that was due to the nonstop images jumping, popping and darting out at me in almost every scene. The action scenes had too much jumping, flying, sky driving, etc., for me, and I thought the colors were drab inside the game. (No wait, maybe that was simply my blue lens dominating the red.) And then there was the big print messages on screen – "PUT GLASSES ON, TAKE GLASSES OFF." Some of those scenes, some action-based moments of peril and high adventure, as well as some large "monster" like creatures might be unsettling, suspenseful and maybe even scary for young viewers (all dependent on their age, level of maturity, etc.). The 3-D nature of the game might exaggerate their reactions. And that whole "it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game" thing? There were a couple of times where the choices were kind of strange (one boy has to fight Juni to the end because his family is poor and he needs the money).
Bottom Line: 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 Stallone take this trilogy back a step. I can't imagine why kids would prefer this style over the traditional fun adventure, but if they're a huge fan of the "Spy Kids" movies, they probably will think it's cool.