J.D. Lafrance
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over DVD Review

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over

April 13, 2002

Director: Robert Rodriguez,
Starring: Starring: Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Ricardo Montalban, Holland Taylor, Sylvester Stallone, Mike Judge, Salma Hayek, Matthew O'Leary, Emily Osment, Ryan Pinkston, Robert Vito, Bobby Edner, Courtney Jines, ,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

Robert Rodriguez is a one-man film studio. He writes, edits, directs, scores, shoots, works on the production design and does the special effects on all of his movies. He’s a hometown boy who has always worked outside of Hollywood in Austin, Texas. Rodriguez works this way to keep down his costs, which allows him to keep on making movies his way because they always turn a profit. When he made the first Spy Kids film (2001), it was a goof on the James Bond super spy movies with two kids finding out that their parents are internationally renowned spies. The sequel (2002) was a homage to the monster movies of Ray Harryhausen. Rodriguez wraps everything up with Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003), which addresses his love of video games.


At the end of the second Spy Kids film, Juni (Sabara) quit the agency and went solo. Now he does small jobs, like finding lost toys and getting cats out of trees, to save enough money to buy “Game Over,” a popular video game created by the Toymaker (Stallone). Juni gets a call from the President (George Clooney in an uncredited cameo) that his sister, Carmen (Vega), has gone missing. She went into the video game and has not been heard from since. Juni has twelve hours to go into the game, progress through the levels until he finds his sister and stop the Toymaker.


There is more style and imaginative visuals in the first ten minutes of this movie then the entirety of most kids’ films. Rodriguez fills the screen with all kinds of details and with colourful objects zipping around in the background of scenes. This overload of visual stimulus invites repeated viewings just to catch all of the visuals that were missed the first time around. There is tons of eye candy that kids will love.


The 3-D effects isn’t just a gimmick that Rodriguez hangs the entire film on. They are an integral part of the story as much of the film takes place in a three-dimensional virtual world with objects flying out at the audience and pieces of scenery sticking out. This is a far cry from Comin’ At Ya (1981).


Rodriguez is not just an aficionado of the 3-D fad in the mid-‘80s, he is also a big fan of the movie Tron (1982). The entire story of Spy Kids 3-D closely resembles the one in Tron but with kids in the starring roles. The game world in Spy Kids evokes the computer world in Tron, including a scene that echoes the famous light cycle chase.


Sylvester Stallone is clearly having a blast hamming it up as four different bad guys: a nerdy scientist, a hippie philosopher, an army general (an obvious nod to Kirk Douglas in Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory) and, of course, the Toymaker. The action film star has had an awful track record with comedic roles (Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot, anyone?) but this one fits him quite well. Rodriguez tailor-made the role(s) for Stallone and plays to his strengths.


Special Features:


Both 3-D and 2-D versions of the movie are available on the two DVDs with four pairs of 3-D glasses included.


“Robert Rodriguez Ten Minute Film School” continues his series of featurettes that show how elaborate effects or stunts were done simply and economically. On this installment, he shows how they did some of the green screen work in the video game world. This is a very informative extra that is quite accessible and never gets too technical. It is inspiring to see such slick effects done on a limited budget.


“Alexa Vega in Concert” is footage of the young actress performing three songs at the world premiere of Spy Kids 3-D in Austin, Texas. She has a nice voice and her music is a refreshing change from the usual teen pop music fare.


Robert Rodriguez contributes a relaxed, informative audio commentary. He talks at length about how he creatively cut costs by building almost all of the film’s sets on a computer. He also talks about his love of video games and how he realized long ago that they are addictive and how deeply kids can get immersed in them. He incorporated these ideas into the movie. As much of a techno-geek as Rodriguez is, he feels that all of this new technology should only service the story and not overshadow it.


“The Making of Spy Kids 3D” is a twenty-minute look at how the film was made. There are the standard interviews with the cast and Rodriguez. They talk about the 3-D/video game concept with an interesting (and unfortunately brief) history of 3-D cinema.


“The Effects of the Game” is a montage of footage showing how some of the fantastic computer effects were achieved set to music from the movie.


There is a brief clip of Alexa Vega recording the song that plays over the end titles.


There is a multi-angle feature that takes the surfing lava sequence from the movie and allows the viewer to switch between the original storyboards, green screen footage and the final finished product.


“Big Dink, Little Dink” is a brief look at Bill Paxton and his son filming their cameo for the movie.


Finally, “Mega Race Set-Top Game” allows the viewer to control a cyber bike from the movie and avoid obstacles on the track to win the race. This is a neat little feature but lacks true interactivity because it can be easily mastered once you memorize the sequence of moves needed to win.


What makes the Spy Kids films work so well is that they tap into what kids fantasize about: being a famous super spy, fighting big creatures and being inside a video game. Spy Kids 3-D is a fitting conclusion to the series and Rodriguez has gone all out not only with the movie but also with a fantastic two-DVD set that is jam-packed with extras.


J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 88%



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