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Spy Kids 3D: A hair-raising adventure

Arthur J Pais | July 28, 2003 14:35 IST

It is easy to find fault in Spy Kids 3D: Game Over. Sure, it is not as sweet or surprising as the first film in the series. Sure, the 3-D effects are often uneven. And sure, it looks like it has been hurriedly assembled. And yet, there is no denying there is a lot of energy and fun. It is far more colourful, thrilling and entertaining than many movies this summer, which are not only much longer than this 85-minute-long adventure but have too much of violence and over-developed plots.

Daryl Sabara in Spy KidsDespite the unevenness of the 3-D process, audiences, including adults, seem to be enjoying Spy Kids 3D considerably. This is the first major 3-D American movie in a decade, following Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.

Robert Rodriguez, who wrote and directed this episode, apart from conceptualising the special effects, editing, and photography, is less interested in the adults like Antonio Banderas (who as in the other two Spy Kids movies plays the children's father), allowing them mere cameo appearances. But Sylvester Stallone, who makes his first appearance in the series gets a plum part as the evil genius; though a bit heavy handed; he seems to be an asset. Far more effective is Ricardo Montalban as the wise and ever resourceful and courageous grandfather.

While the film makes a number of statements applauding family values including trust, integrity, it never goes overboard with them. There is also a message about the physically disabled, which is also conveyed in a sweet and unimposing way.

The film revolves around Juni (Daryl Sabara), an endearing kid working as a private investigator having left behind his work as a secret agent. Soon enough he is summoned back by the US President (George Clooney) and senior agent Cesca Giggles (Salma Hayek) to rescue his older sister, the extraordinary hacker Carmen (Alexa Vega), who is trapped in the ultimate video game, 'Game Over.' The secret agency had sent Carmen to destroy the game and foil the efforts of the Toymaker (Stallone) to control the minds of kids everywhere. 

A still from Spy KidsJuni decides to take his paraplegic grandfather (Montalban) along, instead of his parents, since he wants grandpa's superb mental abilities. He also suspects the old man could spring a few surprises using his upper torso. 

Juni also takes help from four young beta-testing friends to fight through several levels of increasingly challenging games, before his sister is rescued and the Toymaker is routed. But he also knows that to get the fullest backing of the four cyber whizkids he has to convince them of his integrity, courage and resourcefulness.

The rescue is not completed before the grandfather and the Toymaker confront each other. The climax comes a bit too abruptly but not before Juni and his helpmates go through some hair-raising adventures.

The title says 'Game Over,' but given the $32 million weekend opening, and the promise of a solid run -- and even bigger grosses in video stores -- should one be surprised if Robert Rodriguez is not tempted to work on a new episode? 

CREDITS

Written, edited, photographed and directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Ricardo Montalban, Antonio Banderas, Sylvester Stallone, Salma Hayek and George Clooney.
Running time: 85 minutes
Rating: PG 13
Produced by: Miramax/Dimension Films



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