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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Deleted scenes
  • Teaser trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • 4 Featurette
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • Music video
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • Interviews
  • Documentaries
  • Interactive game

Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams

Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 96 mins . PG . PAL


Our local video store has one dollar day and a while back I hired a bunch that included Spy Kids. After watching it and enjoying it for what it was, I went to the cinema to see its sequel the very next day. Everyone at work laughed at me when I told them, but to heck with them. It’s pretty much more of the same from our loveable Spy Kids, just with roles reversed from the first instalment. This time Mom and Dad (along with Mom’s parents) have to rescue the kids as they head off to a deserted and hidden island to find the 'Transmooker'. This is an evil weapon with a funny name (was it first used as a title in a Calvin and Hobbes strip?) capable of stopping all electrical equipment in the world. Naturally, there are all types of crafty subplots that lead to one baddie bent on world domination. Just what is it with world domination? They just get crazy with it. I always wondered what would be the point, sure you’d get all the guns and cookies and some evil chicks and stuff, but where’s the love?

"Why are you still hiding? We’re kids, not monsters! "

All that aside, this one’s bound to find the same level of popularity the first one did and the next one will. I hear Sylvester Stallone will be the baddie: “Errr..yo, uhhh Spy Kids uhhh… Adrian… I am the law… uhhh (and so on).

Sorry about that...


The 16:9 transfer is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio which is just how it looked in the cinema. Again, some of the lamer animation is highlighted a little too often by crystal clear vision and we get to see a little green screen residue at times, which shouldn’t really be happening in this day and age. Shadows and darker scenes are still well lit and back lit to provide no loss of detail and black levels still manage to be black for the most part. Occasionally we’ll see a deeper grey shadow, but it’s nothing to be scared of.

I detected minimal aliasing as well and very few, if any, film artefacts. All of this adds up to make a pretty good transfer, even if it does throw back the veil a little on the SPFX. But - and there’s always a ‘but’ - the film does suffer from a particularly brutal layer change at 1:25:05. It’s very clunky indeed and a bit disappointing for Buena Vista who are usually so clever with this sort of thing. Oh well.


The sound comes through without a hitch. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround there is nothing left to the imagination. All music and dialogue come through at the perfect level, with no clutter or confusion as to what’s going on. The worst part about the sound is the director’s use of stock sound effects. On the Island of Lost Dreams, there are a bunch of weird animals and stuff, and whilst being unique to the island, they do manage to sound just like all those animals that live in zoos in our neck of the woods. Some of the modelling in this part is a bit dodge too, but bear with it. It’s a film made on a self-confessed shoestring budget and looks better than most low-budget spectaculars I’ve witnessed.


Man, there are tons on this disc! Probably the most interesting is the Ten Minute Film School by director Robert Rodriquez. We all know and love his cheap work in the classic films El Mariachi and Desperado and this is an interesting exploration of making effects cheaply and adequately (and even gives away the ghost on some that you probably wouldn’t have noticed.) He’s a clever fella and no mistake. There’s a six and half minute bit about the Stunt Kids and how they trained for all their fights and dances and such. This isn’t really much more than harmless filler. A five-minute School at Big Bend is basically the kids getting a tour of the location they shot in, asking the ranger all sorts of quizzers - it’s a little basic.

Following that are eight minutes of Lost Scenes which, unfortunately, didn’t stay lost. Rodriguez at least gives explanations as to why they had to go, which is always useful and informative, and is the same here. A quick and thin exploration of the Essential Gadgets is trimmed film footage and edited sound bites from interviews that describe the gear in the film. The Behind the Scenes Montage is pretty good and goes for 12 minutes. It’s an exploration of locations and setting up shots that is interesting in a film making sense, but whether the kids who are going to watch this DVD could care less is another story.

Total Recess 24/7 is a half hour show (cropped of commercials down to 22 minutes) that is simply a promo piece made before release documenting the story and the kids and all that jazz. Just remember that anything made for kids rarely ‘talks up’ to adults. After that there’s the almost obligatory Stills Gallery containing what looks like over 50 of someone’s random photos of the shoot. Some of these shots are well below par, including a crappy sunset in which you can see the sun and detail-free shadowed mountains that dominate three quarters of the shot. That’s a bit pissy. The Art Gallery on the other hand is great, with over 75 images lifted from concepts and storyboards. This stuff is always interesting to me, and I was impressed by the lengths the design had gone to. There's also the standard Teaser Trailer and an almost standard Game, in which we must answer questions to save the world. I managed to save the world (please address all cheques of gratitude to Jules Faber) and was horrified to see I didn’t receive a Special Video Treat, darn it! At least I’m a Level One Spy Kid now, so back off!


The kids are gonna gobble this stuff up and parents who have to supervise will find themselves enjoying the film as well, particularly at the couple of subtle gags thrown in for parents and adults alike. A tight story, some great animation (and some not so great as I said) and a lot of fantasy will make this DVD one the kids will wanna watch again and again. Thankfully there are tons of extras, which always adds to the overall value of a disc, and in this case most of them do. Spy Kids 2 is hard to go past if you liked the first one and even if you just want a simple enjoyable movie for the whole family.

End Transmission.

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      And I quote...
    "Cue Matrix music and..."
    - Jules Faber
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