'Spy Kids 3-D' goes where no 3-D film has gone before
By Jack Garner
Gannett News Service
|SPY KIDS 3-D: GAME OVER (Rated PG)Three-and-a-Half Stars (Good-to-Excellent)
A Technicolor dream come true for 10-year-old filmgoers along with the rest of us who sometimes want to feel childlike at the movies. The third "Spy Kids" film uses all-digital 3-D filmmaking to put us inside the manic mayhem of a life-and-death video game called "Game Over." And to propel his tale, writer-director Robert Rodriguez uses 3-D technology with more wit and imagination than any filmmaker ever has before. Dimension Films, 85 minutes.
A virtual explosion of color, action and energy, the third "Spy Kids" film uses all-digital 3-D filmmaking to put us inside the manic mayhem of a life-and-death video game called "Game Over." And to propel his tale, writer-director Robert Rodriguez uses 3-D technology with more wit and imagination than any filmmaker has ever done before.
From Alan Cumming's amusing introduction (via a virtual pop-up book) to the way filmgoers are asked to take glasses off and put them on, this is 3-D for a new age. Even more impressive is the nearly endless parade of sight gags and depth tricks. Filmgoers experience all manner of 3-D action, including a breathtaking car race, some high-energy lava surfing and a slam-bang encounter between robot gladiators.
Juni (Daryl Sabara), the youngest member of the Cortez family, is in a race against time to find his sister Carmen (Alexa Vega), who is trapped inside a futuristic video game. Through adventures on five levels, Juni must not only save Carmen but also confront the game's creator, the Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone). He's a demented, modern-day pied piper who is using "Game Over's" allure to gain control of children's' minds.
Like the previous "Spy Kids" movies, this latest chapter fantasizes a James Bond universe of middle-school spies, third-generation operatives, trained at the side of their veteran parents (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) and even more veteran grandparents (Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor). Most of those adults make only cameo appearances this time. Young Juni carries the day.
Grandpa Cortez (Montalban) is the notable exception.
Juni picks him as his accomplice inside the dangerous and challenging video game. (Grandpa is in a wheelchair, but Juni values the elder's intelligence and guile and looks beyond the disability. It's one of the film's several welcome twists on movie stereotyping. Even more basic, of course, is the placement of a Hispanic family at the heroic center of the films.)
Every major figure from the early "Spy Kids" adventures makes a cameo appearance, from Steve Buscemi and Tony Shalhoub to George Clooney and Cheech Marin. And it's amusing to watch Stallone dive headlong into his portrayal of the wacky Toymaker (depicted as four wildly diverse personas.)
But the real star here is Rodriguez, an apparently tireless filmmaker who is also credited with the writing, cinematography and set design, even the music. And all those elements are imaginative and entertaining.
There's even a bit of Walt Disney about the man. Not only does his film plug directly into a modern child's psyche, but also like Walt, he's a master of movie marketing synergy. Just imagine how many copies of the "Game Over" video game will be sold as soon as this film hits the screen.
Rated PG for action sequences and peril.