Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over Review
By Shawn McKenzie 07/27/2003
I think director Robert Rodriguez was so concerned about completing his Spy Kids trilogy while the kids were still kids that he rushed the third chapter into production. That is the only reason I can explain why Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over feels so slapped together, and doesn’t have the charm of the first two installments.
Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming), the villain of the first movie, introduces us to this new story by giving us instructions on how the 3-D glasses work. You are instructed to put them on any time a major character put their glasses on (actually, you don’t even have to pay that much attention, since the words “Glasses On” and “Glasses Off” appear at the bottom of the screen in big words.) Floop then hands the storytelling reins over to Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara.) Juni has retired from the OSS, apparently bitter at the shabby treatment the agency gave him. He now takes any moneymaking freelance job he can, all so he can buy a new video game called Game Over. In a few days, it will go online, and anyone who has the software can play it. Before it does though, Juni’s sister, Carmen (Alexa Vega), was sent in to the game to flush out its maker, The Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone), but became trapped on the fourth level of this five-level game. President Devlin (George Clooney) alerts Juni of Carmen’s predicament and Juni quickly heads back to the OSS. He meets up with Donnagon Giggles (Mike Judge), the head of the OSS, and Cesca Giggles (Salma Hayek), Donnagon’s wife and the person who seems to be actually running things. Juni discovers that Carmen’s physical body is there, but her mind is trapped in the game. He is given twelve hours plus one helper to find his sister before the game goes online and traps millions of game player minds. Juni chooses his Grandfather (Ricardo Montalban) to be his helper. That may have been a bad idea, since Grandfather has his own agenda against The Toymaker, who they are instructed not to let out (he is in a virtual prison inside the game where he talks to three other versions of himself.) In the meantime, being in the game allows the wheelchair-bound Grandfather to walk and have powers. On Level One, they run into beta testers Arnold (Ryan Pinkston), Rez (Robert Vito), and Francis (Bobby Edner), each with their own agenda (mostly monetary.) Juni also has a run-in with Demetra (Courtney Jines), who he battles in an arena atop some robots that simulate their own movements. Each player starts out with ten lives, and if you run out of lives, you lose and are knocked out of the game. He eventually reaches Carmen and they set out to defeat Level Five (fulfilling a promise made to the beta testers who helped them because they thought he was “The Guy,” which is the person on the video game box), all without letting The Toymaker out. When he does get out, the kids call upon a bunch of people, including their parents, Gregorio (Antonio Banderas) and Ingrid (Carla Gugino), as well as their Grandmother (Holland Taylor), and uncles Machete (Danny Trejo) and Felix (Cheech Marin.) Also on hand to help out are the Giggles’ kids, Gary (Matt O’Leary) and Gerti (Emily Osment), plus Floop and Alexander Minion (Tony Shalhoub) from the first movie and Dinky Winks (Bill Paxton), Dinky Winks Jr. (James Paxton), and Romero (Steve Buscemi) from the second movie. Believing if they work together, they can defeat The Toymaker and save the world.
As the title suggests, this movie is in 3-D. It’s not just one scene mind you (like in Freddie’s Dead: The Final Nightmare), but a majority of the movie. It requires those annoying glasses, and suddenly everything is in green and grey…but 3-D! It gets very annoying quickly, and I found myself rooting for Juni to find a shortcut to Level Four so he could rescue his sister and I could take off those glasses. To its credit, it does poke fun at the annoyance of the glasses at one point where you are instructed to take them off (though if they were aware of this, why did they do it at all?)
If we take away the distraction of the 3-D gimmick, it is still not as good as the first two movies. For one thing, they seemed to have abandoned the messages of the first two. In Spy Kids, the message was that if the family stayed together, they could accomplish anything. In Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, the message was that the mind was more important than fancy gadgets. This one has no message, except maybe that it is everyone for themselves. Almost everyone has an agenda in this movie, and everything else is forced. Gerti Giggles imparts a so-called message to Juni that everyone is your family, which doesn’t make any sense. It is just an excuse to have a greatest hits of Spy Kids characters at the end of the movie. What happened to the family sticking together? The family is only together for about two minutes at the very end, when the parents finally make an appearance. I wonder if this movie was written to accommodate the schedules of all the actors involved, and that is the reason for the rushing.
It’s not all bad though. The opening film-noir segment involving Juni before he is called in to the OSS was funny. Pinkston and Jines were memorable in their parts, though I felt Pinkston was wasted here because it would have been fun if the movie had taken more advantage of his bad boy image from MTV’s “Punk’d” and his martial arts skills. I also liked the movie’s small inside jokes. There is a part in the movie when Grandfather doesn’t want someone to touch his “fine Corinthian leather.” A part where Clooney morphs into Stallone is amusing.
Overall, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over isn’t bad, just not nearly as good as the first two. The Spy Kids movies are one of the few movie franchises where I liked the second movie better than the first one. If you liked the first two, this one may disappoint you, if it doesn’t give you a headache from the glasses first. I love ya Robert Rodriguez, but I hope the title is correct and this is truly game over for this series.
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