Spy Kids 3: Game Over (Blu-ray)
Not long ago I wrote about the fun of Robert Rodriguez films. Watching SPY KIDS 3, however, and I am reminded what happens when I have too much of a good thing. SPY KIDS 3 is the most technologically advanced of the series to this point. Rodriguez films usually have some incredible performances regardless of the strength of the story. It feels like it should have been the perfect storm… but this was 6 years before AVATAR hit theaters and revolutionized 3D. It feels like it.
As the movie opens, we join Juni Cortez, now a former SPY KID. He’s been taking small jobs to save money for the next big video game, titled GAME OVER. It’s supposed to be a revolution of virtual reality… and we get our first glimpse of the villain of the film, the Toymaker (painfully played by Sylvester Stallone). The OSS (the spy agency which employs Juni’s entire family) has been trying to call Juni but he’s avoided their calls. When they finally reach him, he discovers that his sister Carmen (Alexa Vega, sadly underutilized in more of a cameo than a starring role) was lost during a mission and they want Juni to come back to save her (and the world).
Cue the primary problem of the movie. Rodriguez talks about working with special effects to maintain an independent feel within his movies. If SPY KIDS 2 was his crowning achievement (at the time), SPY KIDS 3 is the opposite. The performances are secondary to the effects and the story is weak. It shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose, given that this was the third SPY KIDS film in as many years. But I was still hoping for more than this.
That is not to say that there aren’t any redeeming qualities to the film. Daryl Sabara does have a few moments (very, very few) when he owns his role and really feels comfortable. I don’t blame him, as I don’t think he had much to work with when he signed on for this one. This third movie was really supposed to be HIS. But he didn’t own it so we’re left as an audience wondering what is going on.
Since Carmen is trapped, this movie relies on some other devices and characters. First, Juni must befriend the beta-testers. The betas are a group of gamers who have been testing the game and aren’t ready to give it up to the public. The kids they used were fine. Not great. Fine. Hmmmm, what other words could I use? Workmanlike? Adequate? Not exactly reviews that gets you out of bed in the morning.
One neat idea conceived and executed fairly well is this: Since the movie occurs within a video game, characters did not have to be held back by their physical limitations. This means that Ricardo Montalban (reprising his role as Grandfather) is able to join Juni inside the virtual world and play a Master Spy once again. We also learn the reason that Grandfather has been relegated to a wheel chair, and what his ties may be to a certain [spoiler alert] craftsman of playthings.
All-in-all, the movie just doesn’t work. Rodriguez must have felt the end approaching (no pun intended) because he decided to bring back every character from the first two movies in the final 3 minutes. This would be good if it didn’t remind you, again, of just how lackluster this movie is. The special effects weren’t ready and getting to see this 3D movie in 2D (as the release didn’t come with a 3D option) really kills the little moments that were made for 3D. Here, 3D is all gimmick without nuance. For a series that worked its way into my heart over the first two movies, this final entry lacks the heart and soul that connected SPY KIDS to audiences in the first place.
Video: (1080p, 1.78:1 Widescreen) This is the second movie Rodriguez shot in digital, it looks great until he goes into the game… then it looks so incredibly dated. It’s actually really hard to watch. Sad day. Even my son couldn’t watch the whole thing.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital) The sound is the best part of this movie. It’s cut together well and the soundtrack is pretty well done. If it didn’t look so rough on HD, you would feel like you were in the game.
Commentary with Director Robert Rodriguez: (01:22:36) Rodriguez talks about 3D and why he wanted to shoot the movie this way. He feels like it really gave him the opportunity to make an independent film. The commentary is incredibly technical, but it is SO much more fun than the movie. Another neat tidbit – this was recorded before Blu-ray hit the scene, so we get to hear Rodriguez talk about working with DVDs versus High Definition. My favorite statement: “They’re going to sell you the DVDs, and then they’re going to put out High Definition DVDs, and you’re going to want to go buy everything all over again. And you will, because it’s amazing.”
Ten Minute Film School (09:51) Another technical extra, this one focuses on how they created the film almost entirely on green screen. The best tidbit here is that a lack of resources is the ultimate gift you can give your creativity. And, because he finishes early, he goes ahead and gives us a look into how to spruce up home movies using sound effect CDs that you get at the library. “Have fun and be creative.”
Alexa Vega in Concert (09:56) Game Over – Vega apparently performed these songs at the premiere for Game Over… It makes me a little sad because she is so under-utilized in this final movie. Heart Drive – The kid who plays “the Brain” in SPY KIDS 3 does some hip hop dancing and raps for our viewing… pleasure? Isle of Dreams – Back to Vega singing the theme song from the second movie. Maybe it’s because I’m a Dad, but she seems a bit too young to be dancing the way that she does, but it’s still a fun extra.
The Making of Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (21:14) If you forgot that this movie was originally shot in 3-D, this making-of documentary will remind you and show why he wanted to do a 3D movie. I don’t recall caring for the 3D in the theater, and it looks quite a bit less impressive 7 years later.
The Effects of The Game (06:40) A cheesy special feature that puts the CGI elements together one by one so that you can see how they did the movie. Some interesting transformation shots but generally not worth the effort.
Making Tracks with Alexa Vega (00:59) This is a quick home video of Vega laying down vocals for the soundtrack. Really short. I think maybe Rodriguez was trying to throw her a bone for not giving her more to work with in this movie?
Surfing and Stunts, Multi-Angle (01:08) Sound cut with story board pictures to show you how they planned the big effects sequence.
Big Dink, Little Dink (01:40) Paxton talks about his cameo and practicing lasso. Paxton was able to have his son play Little Dink” in the movie.
Also included on the disc is the Theatrical Trailer.