Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (Collector's Series)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
4 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: PG

Starring:
Antonio Banderas as Gregorio Cortez
Carla Gugino as Ingrid Cortez
Alexa Vega as Carmen Cortez
Daryl Sabara as Juni Cortez
Ricardo Montalban as Grandfather
Holland Taylor as Grandmother
Sylvester Stallone as Toymaker
Mike Judge as Donnagon Giggles
Salma Hayek as Cesca Giggles
Matthew O'Leary as Gary Giggles
Emily Osment as Gerti Giggles
Ryan Pinkston as Arnold
Robert Vito as Rez
Bobby Edner as Francis
Courtney Jines as Demetra
Cheech Marin as Felix Gumm
Danny Trejo as Machete
Alan Cumming as Fegan Floop
Tony Shalhoub as Alexander Minion
Steve Buscemi as Romero
Bill Paxton as Dinky Winks
George Clooney as Devlin
Elijah Wood as The Guy

Special Features:
Commentary by filmmaker Robert Rodriquez

Contains 3-D and 2-D versions of the film

4 pairs of 3-D glasses included

Ten minute film school on how to make cool home movies

Alexa Vega in concert

Making Traks with Alexa Vega

The making of the film

Multi-angle piece on surfing and stunts

The effects of the game

Big Dink, Little Dink

Mega Race Set-Top Game (2-D & 3-D versions)

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish & French Language Track
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 84 Minutes

Synopsis:
Some time after the last Spy Kids movie, Juni Cortez has left the spy business altogether. However, he's called back into action when his sister (who's still a spy) turns up missing. An evil genius named the Toymaker has created a popular new virtual reality video game that will suck the minds of unsuspecting children into computers permanently. Carmen Cortez went into the video game realm to shut it down and stop the Toymaker, but she has disappeared.

Juni is sent in the game to save her. He must pass through four levels of the game without losing too many life points. Along the way he must face the hazards of the games as well as vicious beta-testers that want to beat the game themselves. Juni gets a little help along the way from his grandfather who tags along. However, he has a history with the Toymaker and has other motivations for joining the game beyond saving his granddaughter.

Spy Kids 3-D is rated PG for action sequences and peril.

The Movie:
The most notable thing about this movie is that it is 3-D. While that may not be enough to impress adults, kids will get a big kick out of the gimmick. Alan Cumming (in his Floop persona) kicks the movie off by explaining the use of the glasses. After about 15 minutes of story setup in 2-D, you put your glasses on and enter the 3-D video game world. The 3-D effects are a bit of a mixed bag. Some of the shots are really exciting and impressive. Other shots just don't work. However, kids are going to love it.

The 3-D effect really helps to cover up the quality of the graphics. While they don't look that impressive in 2-D, they look pretty good in 3-D. (Both versions are included on this DVD.) Giant robots, controlled by the kids, are pretty cool. A motorcycle race through the city is also impressive. Finally, some scenes in lava give the creators plenty of chances to have things floating in and out of the screen to great effect.

While the plot is as baffling and foolish as the plots of the first two films, there are some fun tips of the hat to TRON, The Matrix, and other films. A ton of cameos by everyone from Elijah Wood to George Clooney to Salma Hayek keep things fun for the adults. However, Sylvester Stallone seems to be having the most fun in the movie playing four separate characters. If you ever wanted to see Stallone play a hippie, this is your chance.

As fun as the 3-D gimmick was, it did get tiresome. Rather than having the new 3-D glasses that don't distort color, you must use the old fashioned red and blue ones. This really screws with your eyes and may give you a headache after a while. This DVD includes 4 sets of glasses. The effects hold up pretty well on the small screen, but the bigger your TV is, the better the effects will look.

The plot also makes no sense whatsoever and it's filled with random acts of weirdness. For example, Juni's grandfather inexplicably wanders off (chasing a butterfly at one point) for no reason during a critical time. At another point, a giant robot that nobody can see crashes through downtown Austin and I'm not quite sure why. And somehow every bad guy from the first two films is good here. This is just a small taste of what's wrong, but none of it makes any sense. I'm sure that's OK for entertaining kids, but adults will be looking for something more.

Despite Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino getting top billing, they are only in the last five minutes of the film. Go figure. Alexa Vega also takes an hour to show up in the movie. If any of these are your favorite characters, you'll be disappointed.

The Extras:
Both 2-D and 3-D versions of the movie are included in this two disc set. The extras on the 3-D version are all in 3-D as well. The menus popping out of the screen look pretty cool. Along with that, there are quite a few extras:

Commentary by filmmaker Robert Rodriquez – This is a really great commentary. Rodriguez talks about the plot, filming with the kids, and other stuff. But on top of that, it's a great tutorial on filmmaking. He talks about all the tricks he used, the challenges of filming in 3-D, and the advantages of filming digitally. Rodriguez also talks about meeting George Lucas and their discussions about how he made Attack of the Clones. It's really worth checking out.

Ten minute film school on how to make cool home movies – In this short video, Rodriguez shows tricks to use with the camera to make home movies more exciting. He places special emphasis on the use of sound effects for enhancing movies. He uses home movies of his children to demonstrate this and they are quite amusing. This is probably one of the best extras on the DVD and one of the most useful for children.

Alexa Vega in concert – This is footage from the premiere of Spy Kids 3-D in Austin, Texas. At that premiere Vega performed a few Spy Kids songs in concert. She proves to be a pretty good singer and performer. It's going to be interesting to see where her career goes in the future. The songs aren't bad, but again I think kids will enjoy it more than adults.

Making Tracks with Alexa Vega – This is a short, 1 minute video showing Alexa Vega recording the music for the film. Not much here except footage of her singing lines wrong and cringing.

The making of the film – This is your typical "making of" featurette and it's 21 minutes long. It also includes an interesting documentary on this history of 3-D movies. It goes form the origins of the movies through the 50's 3-D craze and beyond.

Multi-angle piece on surfing and stunts – In this video you can toggle between storyboards, animatics, and final footage from the lava surfing scene in the movie. It's a good way to learn about the moviemaking process.

The effects of the game – These are a series of comparisons between the green screen footage and the final version of the film. It's quite amazing what Robert Rodriguez was able to accomplish with the green screens and CGI animation. He seems to rival George Lucas in what he's able to pull off with it. There are also a series of animatic shots showing early visualization from the film. Rodriguez even says at one point that he prefers the look of the animatics to the final film in some cases and I have to say I agree with him. Some of them are darker and have a bit more atmosphere.

Big Dink, Little Dink – This is an extremely brief video showing how Bill Paxton recruited his real world son to play his character's son in the movie. It is pretty funny and cute to see how proud Paxton is of his boy.

Mega Race Set-Top Game (2-D & 3-D versions) – This is a standard DVD video game. In this you make the video game motorcycle dodge obstacles in the road through the race. I found it to be a bit challenging and it took several tries to master it.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, this is a movie for kids only. If you liked the first two Spy Kids movies, you'll like this. Otherwise avoid it. However, the DVD extras are great tutorials for students of film and they are well worth viewing.

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