out of Five
Running time: 90
Extremely enjoyable 3-D action-adventure with great set pieces and several excellent gags, though it’s a shame the other stars are side-lined.
For the third instalment of his popular Spy Kids franchise,
writer-director-editor-producer-everything else Robert Rodriguez has decided to dig out that old gimmick, 3-D cinema, the like of which has not been seen in mainstream cinema since the eminently forgettable Nightmare on Elm Street 5, back in 1989.
This means that on purchasing a ticket, you’ll be issued with a pair of cheap-looking red/green glasses, which you’ll have to wear for about 90% of the film. Rest assured, though - the film is only an eyeball-friendly 90 minutes long and the 3-D effects are worth the effort.
Trapped In Virtual Reality
Fortunately the plot is specifically designed to get round any complaints about dodgy CGI, because it’s mostly set in a video game. Juni Cortez (Daryl Sebara) has become disillusioned with the spy game and now works as a private investigator.
However, when his sister Carmen (Alexa Vega) gets trapped in a sinister virtual reality video game, Juni is the only one who can rescue her from the clutches of the evil Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone, given free reign to overact, but very entertaining with it).
The first two Spy Kids films were notable for Rodriguez’ impressive visual flair and use of colour, combined with a healthy love of neat gadgets. This time round, though the colours may be missing (largely thanks to the red/green glasses), the sheer level of invention is still present and correct and Rodriguez has several crazy things to, literally, throw at the audience. Chief amongst these are the pogo-frogs, whose tongues shoot over the audience’s heads as they attack.
The 3-D effects, then, are extremely impressive – out-takes over the end credits reveal a phenomenal amount of ‘green room’ work – and the set-pieces are terrific, including: a fight between giant robots and an impressive multi-vehicle speed-race.
Little Place For Adults
If there’s one thing that might disappoint fans of the first two films, it’s that the adult stars get hardly any screen time, with the exception of Ricardo Montalban as Juni’s grandfather, who tags along due to Unfinished Business with the Toy-maker.
In fact, due to her plot-driving ‘has to be rescued’ status, Alexa Vega isn’t in it much either, until the final act. However, that said, there are hilarious cameos from all the stars of the previous films, including Steve Buscemi, Bill Paxton, Banderas, Gugino and a Stallone impression from an unbilled George Clooney that is worth the price of admission alone.
In short, Spy Kids 3-D is a thoroughly enjoyable family action film, raised to the status of an ‘event’ movie thanks to the impressive 3-D work. Recommended.