It’s another installment in the franchise and Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams continues to be a fun action-filled adventure for the kids. However, this time around I wasn’t as enthralled with the plot as it became tiring to get through. That said, there are far worse films out there and much worse for families so it’s still a passable movie.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Family
Miramax | PG – 100 min. – $19.99 | August 2, 2011
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Writer(s): Robert Rodriguez (written by)
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Mike Judge, Steve Buscemi, Cheech Marin, Ricardo Montalban, Holland Taylor
Theatrical Release Date: August 7, 2002
Features: Commentary, 6 Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Music Video, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 2.5/5
After hauling in $113 million at the box office, and given probably the sequel was already in the works or even being films, Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams was a no-brainer especially considering the budget for all three films were relatively low and no doubt made Miramax/Dimension some decent coin in the home video market. Unfortunately as the case with most sequels, the quality of work dropped with Spy Kids 2 especially when the original, although not great, had an interesting and unique idea.
The story begins with Carmen (ALEXA VEGA) and Juni Cortez (DARYL SABARA) now fully fledged members of the newly developed Kid OSS organization and their latest assignment is rescuing the President’s daughter (TAYLOR MOMSEN) who is left dangling on the edge of a crazy amusement park ride. For whatever reason, the movie never tells us why, she also has a device she stole off her father’s desk that can disable electronic devices and gadgets. During this mission, they encounter their biggest competitors: Gary (MATT O’LEARY) and Gerti Giggles (EMILY OSMENT) both of whom are suave and are the children of a spy named Donnagon (MIKE JUDGE). Donnagon comes into the picture when, during a fancy dinner for OSS members, is named the new chief taking it from under Gregorio Cortez (ANTONIO BANDERAS) feet.
During this dinner, all of the adults are knocked out after drinking champagne leaving the kids the only thing between the bad guys getting away. After a long fight sequence between the several spy kids, including our two heroes and their rivals, the bad guys get away. The blame is placed on Juni for their escape and now he has been disavowed by the agency, but Carmen is determined to clear his name, hacking into the OSS main files and assigning the case to retrieve the device to them – since it was assigned to the Giggles’ siblings –, after reinstating Juni, they set off in a kid-friendly OSS submarine to the last known location which is apparently in the middle of nowhere.
As they closed in on their destination, the submarine suddenly shuts down where they manage to get to the surface via an escape hatch, get propelled by a two-headed monster to the shore and explore this island not on any maps. After being bewildered by it all, they manage to get to the lair of a mad scientist named Romero (STEVE BUSCEMI) who uses some fine exposition to inform them that this island is being protected with a larger device that cloaks it from the outside world. The island is also home to several hybrid animals of his own creation.
Anyway, this all leads to their rivals finally catching up, their spy parents, whom they have been trying to keep out after learning somebody at OSS was setting this all up, arriving to the island and the fight is on to get the device before the bad guys who will use it to… rule the world… or something.
The film once again focuses on the spy kids with the adults taking a back seat, though even more than in the first one. This go around they expand the family element to include Grandfather (RICARDO MONTALBAN) and Grandmother (HOLLAND TAYLOR) who get in on the action to help out since they too were once spies and have their own gadgets to help out the grandkids. The addition of Montalban and Taylor was nice and adds something different to the formula versus the first movie and with the return of the other supporting cast members like Cheech Marin as the family friend – albeit now a bit more distant hating being called their “uncle” – and Danny Trejo as Machete presents a good ensemble. The film also has credited cameos with Alan Cumming and Tony Shalhoub.
What makes the movie work, outside of the cast, is once again the action adventure aspect, a James Bond film for kids as Roger Ebert once described it. The action sequences are well developed and directed by Robert Rodriguez. No doubt having Rodriguez helm a kid’s movie is odd since he was in charge of hard R-rated flicks like Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City, etc. but he has the background in visuals to present a bright and colorful action piece.
Speaking of Robert Rodriguez puts on many hats for the project (as he had the first go around). For instance, not only is he the writer and director of this sequel, he also was the director of photography, had a hand in visual effects (no surprise given his background), editor, producer, composer, song writer (on 3 of them no less), re-recording mixer and production designer. Don’t know if that means passionate filmmaking or being cost conscience, either way, it’s an impressive array of talents Rodriguez has.
Spy Kids 2 is a satisfactory enough film and although it doesn’t quite have the magic of the original, there’s still some fun moments that will delight the target age range (probably 8-12) while still be entertaining enough to keep adults’ attentions as well.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
Audio Commentary – Robert Rodriguez provides, as usual, an insightful commentary where he outlines how the sequel came about, some inside secrets on how certain shots were done, etc.
Robert Rodriguez Ten Minute Film School (9:55) – As with his other film school featurettes, Rodriguez shows how some of the visual effects were accomplished. It is actually quite interesting to see how he accomplished some of the effects on a budget.
A New Kind of Stunt Kid (6:41; SD) tackles the stunt work done throughout the movie starting with the dinner fight sequence and how the kids trained.
Lost Scenes (7:50; SD) are a collection of deleted that didn’t make it in the film. There is an optional commentary.
“Isle of Dreams” Music Video (3:30; SD) – This is the video, with Alexa Vega, seen during the end credits with some footage from the movie thrown in to make it more complete.
Essential Gear: The Gadgets of Spy Kids (3:15; SD) chronicles the variety of gadgets used in the film.
Behind-the-Scenes Montage (11:59; SD) is a fine compilation of raw video footage of their shoot in Costa Rica and another for the Cliff scene.
School of Big Bend National Park (4:57; SD) – Want to know about Big Bend National Part? Well, here you go.
Total Access: A Day in the Life of Spy Kids (21:41; SD) is your basic making-of featurette focusing on what the kids do on and off the set including riding go carts and just hanging out together.
The Teaser (1:29; SD) and Theatrical (1:16; SD) trailers have been included.
Previews – Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D, Alpha and Omega, Battle for Terra, Thor: Tales of Asgard
The second disc contains the Digital Copy.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Spy Kids 2 kicks and fights it way onto Blu-ray with a 1.78 aspect ratio (original theatrical AR was 1.85) and 1080p high-definition. The video transfer looks quite good with sharp detail, consistent and bright colors, skin tones are well balanced and the black levels are deep without being crushed. Where it might fall short is I felt at times it did look a tad soft, though it’s not too bad.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The disc gets a solid 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which sounds great as you get a wide range to hear the various elements. The dialogue levels are consistent coming via the center channel while the action parts make the most use out of the front and rear channels, though the latter is a bit softer and you can also discern the ambient noises as well.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, it’s another installment in the franchise and Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams continues to be a fun action-filled adventure for the kids. However, this time around I wasn’t as enthralled with the plot as it became tiring to get through. That said, there are far worse films out there and much worse for families so it’s still a passable movie. The Blu-ray itself has some good features while the audio and video transfers are both very good and an upgrade over the DVD version.