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After enjoying some success with the surprisingly enjoyable & cheesy "Spy
Kids," Director (and all around good guy) Robert Rodriguez now brings forth
a sequel, "Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams" which is far less
enjoyable and far more cheesy. As a matter of fact, you'd be hard pressed
to find more cheese anywhere outside of a Wisconsin dairy
Juni and Carmen Cortez (Daryl Sabara and Alexa Vega) are back, now officially a part of OSS, and officially recognized as Spy Kids. But the OSS, just like every other government bureaucracy, cannot resist expanding upon a good thing, so now there is an entire army of "spy kids" at their disposal; but Juni and Carmen are, of course, the most renowned.
Within in the first opening minutes of the film, which takes place in a truly inspired theme park, we quickly discern that Juni and Carmen have rivals: the Giggle kids (Matthew O'Leary and Emily Osment) who dearly covet the Cortez' fame and status. With help of their conniving father (Mike Judge), the Giggles do what they can, not only to surpass the Cortez family, but to humiliate them as well.
Once again, we find the greatest threat to the OSS is the OSS itself, along with the internal politics and treachery which played a small but significant part in the plot of the first film. It seems as if the OSS is more of a threat to world peace than a help, and one wonders why Uncle Sam doesn't just shut the operation down and call it a day. Perhaps it would prevent the making of any more "Spy Kids" movies, which I'm beginning to think would be a very good thing.
The plot revolves around a device known as a "transmooker" -- which can be best described as the ultimate cloaking device, even able to cloak entire islands off the map. It also has the wonderful ability to render all electronic devices useless, which is quite a thorn in the side of the intrepid Spy Kids, who's reliance on James Bond style fancy gadgets is only a shade less than an alcoholic's dependence on his next drink. Of course the transmooker itself is an electronic device, but somehow is immune to its own nasty effects. (Only in Hollywood....)
So our two heroes, Juni and Carmen, locate the cloaked island, where the stolen transmooker was taken, and attempt to find it before their rivals, the Giggles kids, do. The island turns out to be a retirement resort for every single monstrous creature ever created by Ray Harryhausen ("Jason and the Argonauts," "7th Voyage of Sinbad," etc.). Except we are told that they were created by the socially insecure and somewhat troubled scientist "Dr. Romero" (Steve Buscemi) who was looking for some companionship, and a portable zoo. But of course those of us who've seen a few movies in our time know better.
During the same time, there is a completely boring and totally unnecessary sub-plot involving Carmen & Juni's parents and grandparents. The only reason the subplot exists is to cloak this poor homage to Harryhausen as a "family film." Yeah, right. I certainly fell for it.
Hollywood films, especially action-adventures and sci-fi flicks, often ask the audience to suspend logic and rational thought while the plot thickens. It is the price we pay, beyond the ticket price, for the pleasure of being "entertained." But Spy Kids 2 doesn't just ask for a suspension of belief, but a wholesale slaughter of anything remotely resembling intelligence. That's a big price to pay, and one I was unable to justify.
If Daniel Rodriguiez is such a fan of Harryhausen, then he should make "The 8th Voyage of Sinbad" or some such thing, rather than trying to find a way to incorporate Ray's creatures into a movie allegedly about espionage. The CGI recreations of Harryhausen's monsters was one of the more enjoyable aspects of this horrid film, but not enough to pull it out of the slimy pit in which very poor writing knocks it into.
The dialogue is stupid, even for kids to listen to. Most of the jokes fall as flat as the acting. Much of the cuteness and fun of the first Spy Kids film is completely lacking in the sequel. Instead, we have a very disjointed plot, an adventure that leads to nowhere, and a subplot that should have been locked in the submarine where it mostly takes place.
My Rating: 4/10
To its credit, "Spy Kids 2" does indeed display a lot of creativity and
imagination, and that makes it a lot better than most family movies
Hollywood makes. However, while the first "Spy Kids" was a fun romp that
kids AND adults would enjoy, this sequel isn't as much fun.
I think the biggest flaw is that this sequel is missing heart. We don't feel the warmth between the family members as we previously did. (Yes, the youthful siblings did fight and disagree a lot in the first movie, but you could still sense a solid bond between them.) There's no sense of the characters feeling danger, excitement, and a sense of adventure as they did the first time around. Instead, there is a coldness, a mechanical feeling this time, like they are very familiar (and almost bored with) with what they are experiencing, even with each other. The presence of two snotty and selfish rival child spies just furthers this somewhat sour tone.
While kids might not mind this too much, I think even they will agree with the second problem I found - the story here is VERY confusing at times. For one thing, the movie seems to start at chapter two, jumping ahead of itself before the audience is set and ready. Then after that, there are a number of moments where we keep thinking "Huh? How did (this character) get there all of a sudden?" and "Huh? What on earth happened off-screen to make (what we are now seeing) happen?" Very annoying. It's all made worse by a pace that is MUCH too fast, even for an adventure of this nature.
Note to Robert Rodriguez: I understand you will soon start "Spy Kids 3". Please not only take notice of what I've said above, but take note of Daryl Sabara ("Juni"). Though not a bad actor, there were a number of instances where he didn't enunciate his dialogue clearly enough, which lead me to rewind back a few seconds and use captions. Please take care of this on set, or at the very least, patch it up during post-production looping.
After reading some of these user reviews (especially the one about the
Latino vs. White.... you have to be kidding me), I felt compelled to write
one of my own. Spy Kids 2 had everything I expected - a whole new
adventure with characters from first that is fun, exciting, humorous, and
still manages to teach about doing the right thing. I also appreciated
references to the original ^_^ , and the special effects were even better
than the first.
The hardest people to please in this case would be my 2 daughters (4 & 7) who own the first Spy Kids on DVD and have seen it so many times they can act out the scenes down to the facial expressions and body motions. When they saw Spy Kids 2 this past weekend they were transfixed and left the theater excited about seeing Carmen and Juni in their latest adventure.
A great movie for adults and kids... I cannot recommend this sequel highly enough!
Carmen and Juni Cortez are official Spy Kids, working for an organization
called OSS (which probably stands for something, but I'm not sure what). In
the opening scenes we see the President's daughter, Alexandra (Taylor Momsen
from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"), as a special guest at a futuristic
amusement park. When Alexandra gets herself in trouble on a ride called the
Juggler (which actually juggles the cars containing the passengers!), Carmen
and Juni are dispatched to help her. But then a backup Spy Kids team of Gary
(Matt O'Leary from "Frailty") and Gerti (Emily Osment, sister of Haley Joel)
Giggles are sent in as well. The situation becomes competitive, with the
Cortezes rescuing Alexandra while the Giggleses retrieve the dangerous
device (the Transmooger) that she had stolen from her father's
As in the first film, Carmen and Juni's parents are Gregorio (Antonio Banderas) and Ingrid (Carla Gugino), who are also spies working for OSS. Gregorio is up for a major promotion, but like his children, he is also competing with the Giggles family. The dinner at which the winner of this promotion is announced is the launching pad for the heart of the film.
Other key characters returning from the first film are uncle "Machete" Cortez (Danny Trejo) and Felix Gumm (Cheech Marin). And then there is Doctor Romero (Steve Buscemi), who is a very interesting character.
The "film" was actually shot using high definition video, which looked good enough to never be a distraction. It had been transferred to film for exhibition, so the normal film wear and tear issues applied, especially since I saw it near the tail end of its theatrical run.
Besides using digital video, the director (Robert Rodriguez) also used another trick to save money: he did almost everything himself. He was the writer, cinematographer, editor, production designer, and visual effects supervisor, and also helped produce and score the film. Apparently he did much of this work in his garage in Austin, Texas.
The first film was very fun and unexpected. This one feels a *little* too much like more of the same, and it also adds a touch more gross humor than I think it needed to. It's still fun and definitely worth at least a rental, but it's not *quite* up to the level of the first film.
Seen on 10/9/2002.
The first "Spy Kids" is an incredibly over the top but entertaining film for
younger audiences and even though I still recommend this sequel I think that
its just a little too over the top. Story is of course about Carmen (Alexa
Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara) who have become top spies for their agency but
now they are in competition for the best jobs by another brother/sister spy
team. A gadget called the Transmooger that can shut down any defense system
is stolen from the President and Juni is blamed for his carelessness. The
Agency sends Gary (Matthew O'Leary) and Gerti (Emily Osment) who are the
children of Donnagon (Mike Judge) who is in charge of Operations so Carmen
hacks into the computer and has the mission changed so that she and Juni are
sent instead. They travel underwater to an island that is invisible and
inhabited by strange looking creatures but they have to hurry because Gary
and Gerti will be showing up eventually to get the Transmooger that they are
trying to find as well. The meet Romero (Steve Buscemi) who is hidden
underground because he was the one that created all the creatures and he
thinks they want to kill him. Meanwhile, Gregorio (Antonio Banderas) and
Ingrid Cortez (Carla Gugino) are in pursuit to find their children along
with the help of Grandfather (Ricardo Montalban) and Grandmother (Holland
Not only did Robert Rodriguez direct this film but he also wrote, edited, produced, scored and did the production design. I'm sure he did other things as well and this shows that he remembers his days as a poor independent filmmaker with this type of self reliance. Rodriguez has a wild imagination and its not uncommon in his films for him to throw everything at an audience but the kitchen sink. This film is chock full of digital effects and at times it bordered on being more animated than live action. As much as I enjoyed the first film I always told people that I thought it would be even better if the story was more simplified. Have the kids in more realistic situations like James Bond but instead we got a cartoonish film with walking thumbs and gadgets that even Bond himself would laugh at. Here in this sequel it goes even more over the top with such outlandish situations that even Indiana Jones would be clueless. I couldn't decide which was more incredible, the giant monsters on the island or the fact that parents were sending their small children out on dangerous missions to save the world! Another thing I noticed was the sister of Haley Joel Osment who plays one of the other spy kids. It may be too soon to judge her but after watching Emily Osment's performance in this film she should beg her brother for acting lessons. She has an eternity to go. I am recommending this film for its wild imagination and high tech energy and their are some nice tributes to the great Ray Harryhausen but if they continue to make these sequels they might want to think about simplifying the stories.
I have seen some bad movies, but this has to be in the top 5. The Special effects were the worst I have ever seen (recently), and the acting is even worse. I think a 10 year old could have wrote a better script. Like 80% of the movie looked like it was a green screen. The only movie worse than this is Jaws: The Revenge. I think you should avoid this movie. I would rather watch jaws 3 than have to watch this movie again. The original was a okay movie, but this movie is not worth your time. the fight scenes are the worst I have ever scene. The jokes fell flat every time. I can not think of one good thing about this movie. Avoid this movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Spy Kids was simply a treat. It was a total surprise. Alexa Vega was just this cool person. The movie was clearly cut good and evil. Kids vs adult weirdo's.
Unfortunately, Tipper Gore got hold of Spy Kids 2 and added a morality statement to it. Not that this movie is bad, but as with a lot of cartoon in the 90's, some moral is gleened from this. Montleban is completely useless in his role and I'm not sure of the role of the grandparents. It reminded me of the movie Lost in Space.
the director quoted on the DVD as saying that he made the first movie so he could make the second. I had to laugh at this. Then why spend all the good parts of the series on the first movie.
Some of the movie is a bit on the embarrassing side of ... ick don't watch.
Will kids watch it? Probably. But I think the plot is just way to complex for this kind of movie.
And now Uncle Felix is the bad guy. Figures. Almost ruins the first film. But Spy Kids was so good, I doubt that'll happen.
Quality: 6/10 (good direction and cinematography) but bad editing. And why'd they have to squish that fun loving bug. Sheesh.
Entertainment: 8/10 Replayable: 3/10
Another winner in Robert Rodriguez' budding `Spy Kids' franchise, equally as good as the first and showing real potential for the future. Rodriguez is perhaps the only filmmaker of kids' movies that seems to actually listen to what kids want and in the process delivers something every family member can indulge in--it's as delicious as chocolate, with plenty of giggles aimed at the seven to ten crowd and dazzling ideas and humor that parents can appreciate. Rodriguez has an extremely fertile imagination and while his visuals sometimes can't keep up (the digital effects are an occasional letdown) the concepts themselves are so ambitious and delightful that it's easy to look past the brief technological shortcomings. As in the first film, there are plenty of references to family films of the past (most notably `Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory' and the stop-action animation of Ray Harryhausen) and the overall design of both films is very similar. (Rodriguez seems to prefer shooting at twilight, giving everything an orange hue.) But it does seem more expansive, perhaps because he's creative enough to incorporate welcome new characters, such as the kids' grandparents (played with relish by Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor) and another brother-sister spy team (Emily Osment and Disney Channel favorite Matthew O'Leary) as well as fresh retakes on characters from the first film (Steve Buscemi takes on the Alan Cumming role). Rodriguez' screenplay once again takes on the theme of family but this time it's carried poignantly throughout (it got dropped rather quickly in `Spy Kids') and the result, coupled with his extraordinary vision, is a film that will thoroughly satisfy just about everyone.
As the story begins, Juni and Carmen Cortez are agents on the rise in the new Spy Kids division of the OSS. Despite all of their skills and accomplishments, they're denied a promotion in the agency as a result of blatant nepotism. Still determined to make their markand more importantly to upstage a pair of rival agentsthey intervene in a mission to travel to a mysterious island and retrieve a sophisticated thingamajig that could be a potent threat if it falls into the wrong hands. Engaging sequel is far less cheesy than its predecessor, has a much better story, and lots of imaginative visual effects accompanied by exciting, cliffhanger action scenes. Overlong, and still corny at times, but has just enough ingredients to entertain all audiences. ***
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Rodriguez is talented, that talent centered on his abilities as set/art/production designer. When you have one of these film polymaths, they almost always have a single skill, a sole imaginative strength that their other roles support. Orson Welles for instance was a great visual narrator. Rodriguez isn't as novel, but comes from much the same place. He envisions scenes and marshals everything to pull them off with resources at hand.
The comparison with Welles isn't too far off at least with the first `Spy Kids.' While producing good old entertainment, he did take the time to dip into some examination of fabricated narrative. The whole thing with Artificial Intelligence goes pretty deep: Floop was an early lisp object system, and many such obscure references were used in his apparently offhand story of films artificially influencing imagination and behavior.
Along with that were some pretty imaginative sequences embedded as preteen fantasies.
But this project has none of that. None of the novel imagination. None of the self-referential subtext. No real fun, just an amusement park ride producing the predicted barf.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 4: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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