Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams Review
By Shawn McKenzie 08/22/2002
I was very concerned when I went into see Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams. Very concerned.You see, I had recently trashed one of my favorite director’s latest movies (see my Possession review), and I really didn’t want to have to do it again. Robert Rodriguez, the man behind some of the most creative action, horror, and science fiction movies of the last decade, directed this movie and the original Spy Kids. If you are not familiar with his work, try these titles out: El Mariachi, Desperado, From Dusk to Dawn, and The Faculty. Not bad, huh?
Fortunately, I didn’t have to do any trashing here. This movie was actually better than the original! I should have known it was going to be good, since I really liked the original, but I didn’t expect it to be more fun and all around superior to the first movie. Sequels tend to be not as good, even if you love the original, so it is so cool when the sequel outshines the original.
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams is once again the story of the Cortez family. The kids, Carmen and Juni (Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara), are no longer in the dark about their parents, Gregorio and Ingrid (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino.) In fact, they are top agents in a new secret branch of the spy agency called OSS. They are at Level 2, which is the highest any of the kids have gotten so far. Their biggest rivals in the OSS are Gary and Gerti Giggles (Matt O’Leary and Emily Osment), kids of Donnagon Giggles ("Beavis & Butt-Head" and "King of the Hill" creator Mike Judge.) Donnagon is Gregorio’s chief rival for the position as the head of the OSS. Just as the President (Christopher McDonald) is about to announce Gregorio as the new head, a conspired flicker happens and the teleprompter name changes to Donnagon. Donnagon then gives his kids the highest position possible, Level 1. Not long after that, a weird group of bad guys with magnets on their heads steal the Transmooger, a device that knocks out electrical power in whatever it is aimed at (which had been previously stolen by the President's daughter Alexandra, played by Taylor Momsen.) Juni is framed by Gary and made to look like he let the bad guys get away (all the adults had been knocked out by a sleep drug that was in their champagne.) Juni is fired, but Carmen hacks into the computer and gets him reinstated. Meanwhile, they find out that the Giggles have a mission to retrieve the Transmooger off the Island of Lost Dreams (it’s never really called that, but I don’t know its real name.) Carmen changes their missions around and assigns her and Juni to the mission. They go to the island and discover that their cool gadgets don’t work. They realize that there is a bigger Transmooger on the island that could destroy the world. They end up meeting the inventor, who is named Dr. Romero (Steve Buscemi.) Along with the Transmooger, he created a bunch of unusual creatures to live on the island. Once the Giggles find out what has happened, they go to the island! to try to mess up the Cortez’s mission. The Cortez parents also get wind of the mission, and, along with Ingrid’s parents (Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor), decide to try and rescue the kids.
Why is it so good? It was even more fun and action-packed than the original. Even though the "moral" of the story was that sometimes you have to use your brain and not depend on gadgets, the gadgets in this movie were more impressive than in the first one. In addition, one of the things that bugged me about the original was severely reduced in this one. Even though I liked the first movie, I thought Alan Cumming’s character Floopie was a little annoying. Fortunately, Floopie makes an even shorter appearance in this sequel than Jar-Jar Binks did in Star Wars Episode 2: The Attack of the Clones.
The one drawback to the movie was the special effects, but it depends actually on how you look at it. A few of the special effects were a little cheesy-looking, but I think that it might have been done that way on purpose as an homage to old Ray Harryhausen movies, like Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. Some of the acting was as cheesy as the effects, but I’ve seen worse.
Overall, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams was a better time at the theater than the first movie. If you loved the first movie, or even if you thought it was just okay, you will like this one. Kids will like the cool gadgets and the fact that the movie concentrates on the kids more than the parents this time around, and the parents will be reminded of fantasy movies from their childhood. Even though I do hope that Robert Rodriguez will move on to different projects, I will gladly welcome more adventures of the Spy Kids.
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