out of Five
Writer-director-everything elser Robert Rodriguez is the creative genius behind the successful Spy Kids franchise. Rodriguez is known for constantly pushing the boundaries of digital technology, so it was reasonable to assume that this film in 3-D would at least have spectacular visual effects going for it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Perhaps Rodriguez was more preoccupied with Sin City at the time but the fact remains that Sharkboy and Lavagirl lacks wit, imagaination and a sense of fun.
If it seems as if The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl was written by a seven year-old, that’s probably because it was written by a seven year-old, namely Robert Rodriguez’s son Racer Rodriguez. Apparently, Racer came up with the idea whilst playing in the pool with his dad. However, whilst Racer receives a story credit it is Robert who has to take responsibility for the script itself, together with its clumsily-delivered message that you’ve got to follow your dreams.
Ten year-old Max (Cayden Boyd) is an only child who doesn’t seem to be too popular at school. He spends all his time drawing pictures and creating a fantasy world in which he can escape both the pressures of school and the problems of his parents (David Arquette and Kristin Davis). However, when his imaginary superhero friends Sharkboy (Taylor Lautner) and Lavagirl (Taylor Dooley) come to life and whisk him off for an adventure on Planet Drool, Max begins to realise that his imagination might be far more powerful than he had suspected.
The short ‘origin of Sharkboy’ sequence is the most enjoyable bit of the film. Boyd is fine in the lead, but the best child performance comes from Jacob Davich as Linus / Minus, in his joint role as school bully and evil henchman. However, David Arquette is the film’s most interesting character - it’s hinted that their problems stem from the fact that Max’s father has never let go of his own childhood dreams. However, the script never really tackles this idea and Arquette brings more to the role than the script really deserves.
The acting isn’t particularly good in general. Taylor Dooley in particular goes through the entire movie with a fixed grin and a vaguely blank expression. She seems to have been cast purely for her resemblance to Spy Kids’ Alexa Vega.
Taylor Lautner brings a little more detail to his character but only because he gets to snarl occasionally. The adults don’t fare much better – Kristin Davis has very little to work with and George Lopez overacts as if his life depended on it.
The Special Effects
All this would be bearable if the film was able to dazzle with special effects but there’s not a single memorable sequence and wearing the glasses becomes annoying when so little use is made of the 3-D gimmick. There are also a couple of poorly written songs (Glass of water? Here you are!) that only add to the irritation factor.
In short, if it’s 3-D effects you’re after then you’re better off checking what’s on offer at the IMAX cinema this week. Otherwise, this is a tedious, poorly-written, badly acted movie with nothing to recommend it. Avoid like Sharkboy-infested waters.
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D (U)