"Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost
Directed by Robert Rodriguez.
Written by Robert Rodriguez.
Starring Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega and Mike
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 8/1/02
Last week, my friend Max and I caught a
press screening of the new film “Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost
I went to see this a) because I like the
word “free”, and b) because I liked the “Spy Kids” original and
wanted to see what writer/director Robert Rodriguez (“Desperado”
plus the original “Spy Kids”) would come up with.
Well, a) worked out well, but b) was a bit
disappointing. This time around, the Spy Kids—Juni (Daryl Sabara)
and Carmen (Alexa Vega) are a year older and much more experienced
in the ways of saving the world...so much so that there is a whole
government arm of the Secret Service now which is full of other Spy
Kid operatives. The new head of the OSS (that agency) is Donnagon
Giggles (Mike Judge), and upon this promotion he promotes his two
kids, Gary and Gerti, to top Spy Kid status and sends them on a
mission to a distant island to retrieve a cloaking device that also
happens to have the power to shut down power to everything within a
one-mile radius. Juni and Cortez set off to complete the mission
before the Giggles kids can do so.
What made “Spy Kids” so fresh was the idea
that these two kids really could be spies in the first place; by
having them set off to save their secret-agent parents (here again
reprised by Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino), their mission was a
novelty, and it was out of love for their family. Here, the Spy
Kids are a business, a corporation that recruits and trains kids to
be everything a 14-year-old can be. This really takes away from the
Juni and Carmen characters mostly in terms of screen
time—Rodriguez’s decision to split their time between the parents,
Judge (best known for writing and directing “Office Space”), and the
rival Giggles kids doesn’t leave much at the buffet table with only
90 minutes of movie.
But, the other major way that the kids’
roles are diminished is the absolutely ridiculous number of special
effects shots in “Spy Kids 2”—this is getting out of hand. Sure,
the first film had a bunch of these shots. But, in the sequel’s
case, even shots of the kids with a backdrop of a plain blue sky are
clearly blue-screened and by the time it was done, it had me
thinking “Minority Report” or even “Star Wars” because all of the
gadgets and island effects are CGI. Movies are heading down the
wrong path if directors are spending money on shots of kids on a
beach for the digital effects lab. Max was saying to me after the
film that he wonders if writers even storyboard any more; you could
just skip this step and go right to a digital design studio and just
tell them what you are thinking for each shot, and have them do it
on a computer for you in a week. Sad.
This, plus some plot loopholes and a bad
case of cameo sequelitis (Ricardo Montalban, Steve Buscemi, Bill
Paxton, Danny Trejo, and Cheech Marin all come to “hang out” on set)
bring “Spy Kids 2” down. The film is interesting at times, and as
it was shot using digital cameras, seeing “Spy Kids 2” on a digital
projector is pretty sweet. But, what made “Spy Kids” so cool has
made its sequel a spy cliché...if this films makes big money—and, I
would be surprised if it does not—expect another sequel in 2004;
Banderas and Rodriguez are busy now, shooting the
as I write.
Overall, this one is disappointing. But,
check out the original if you have the chance...not a bad film for
any age group.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard