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    English, German, Italian, English - Hearing Impaired
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  • Bonus feature film - Well, technically... + 4 x 3D glasses

Spy Kids 3D - Game Over

Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 79 mins . PG . PAL


I was truly looking forward to this third installment in the Spy Kids menage, until after the first ten minutes or so when I suddenly had a fairly distasteful, erm, taste in my mouth.

Writer director Robert Rodriguez again helms this production which sadly smacks of too much effort. How ironic when the majority of his films lack that exact ingredient and do all the better for it. The film opens with the most youthful of the Spy Kids, Juni, having left OSS and working freelance as a gumshoe (with oh how amusing literal translation). However, he is asked back to help find his sister Carmen who has become trapped inside a computer game known as Game Over. This worldwide phenomenon game has been created by The Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone in woeful form) who has been captured and is trapped in the game in much the same way Carmen is.

In goes Juni to find her and bring her back and he spends the next major portion of the film going from exciting contest to exciting contest trying to move forward through the game to get to Level Five, where Carmen is being held. However, the Fifth Level is unwinnable and Juni must find a way to outwit the game, get his sister and not look like Tron (which he fails at).

There’s more, but I’d give it away if you can get all the way to that point. Rodriguez himself has stated that this film wasn’t originally a Spy Kids script, but he adapted it so as to make a film before the blossoming Alexa Vega (as Carmen) grew out of her shoes. And herein lies most of the trouble. It barely resembles the two previous efforts and seems more like a way to show off the prowess of Rodriguez’ digital studios (anyone smell an advert?). The characters are unlike previous outings and in fact most barely appear at all, coming in at the end for a cheesy as hell Disney-like ending that left me feeling rather flat. And the computer animation was crappy.

I know it’s a kid’s film and all that, but where the first two films were appealing to both adults and kids, this one might even find trouble getting the kids to stay interested. The inclusion of a schlockish 1950s gimmick in the 3D glasses just seems to amplify that. And they didn’t really work that well. I actually watched the film first in regular mode (the disc holds both) so thankfully I didn’t need to sit through the whole thing in 3D. My poor bleeding eyes I would have plucked.

SK3 lacks everything that made the first two flicks in the trilogy as good as they were (and not to say they were great, because they weren’t, but they were a lot of fun). Disappointing all round and even the silliness of making the film 3D doesn’t save what is essentially a shameless cash-in on existing characters.


Well, the digital age is here and thankfully not as many films embrace it as freely as Rodriguez does here. I don’t care how often they do it, they cannot reproduce sunlight convincingly enough for me. The thing about a computer program is when it adds ‘sunlight’ to something, it adds it as a constant, whereas real sunlight isn’t constant. Sure it appears imperceptible to the eye, but nevertheless we still see it and it registers in our brains. It’s the same with animated fleshtones. They look pasty and fake because they don’t have the, again, visually imperceptible motion of blood behind them. So many people who have the ability to work the programs but no idea how to observe life. That’s the True Art you guys. Heads up!

Anyhow, the film carries itself under the imaginary universe very well, certainly convincing me they were in a computer being manipulated by a Puppet Master. As far as digital film goes, this looks pristine and is delivered in 1.78:1 with 16:9 anamorphic computer enhancement, but it looks mostly like a real life cartoon rush job.


That all being said, the audio is as awesomely delivered as usual. A crystalline Dolby Digital 5.1 surround deal sends the channels speakers into overdrive as any number of things are thrown around the room. The subwoofer stays steady through too, ably adding the thumps to the numerous computer game explosions, crashes and gunshots – not to mention the big rocket engine race which is almost as good as the Pod Race from SW1:PM. The musical range is orchestral as well and this goes a ways toward setting the overly dramatic or comedic moments as required. Ever the sole man working on the film, Rodriguez scores the film himself.


This is a two disc set, but don’t be fooled by the packaging! The reverse claims to have all the same extras on each disc, but this is a falsehood! All we get is a cheerful warning to piss off to the other disc to see whatever the chosen hubbub is. However, when we finally track them down they appear thus:

Rodriguez’ staple Ten Minute Film School shows up for a scant six and half which he fills out with How to Make Cool Home Movies. This is the usual informative bit, but sadly lacking in the speed and depth of his previous offerings, concentrating heavily on the digital effects of the film rather than stunts or tricks. The home movies bits shows some of his own in which he has cleverly added sound effects found on cheap sound effects CDs. Yawn squared.

Alexa Vega in Concert continues what Rodriguez started in SK2 with the youthful Alexa shaking her stuff at the premiere of the film in Austin, Texas. If you’re a pre-teen or a teen and a girl, this might do it for you, but for everyone else it’s 10:02 of a girl singing on a stage in the middle of the street. In Austin. (Yet, thankfully, not into a hairbrush).

The Robert Rodriguez audio commentary is the usual crammed to the gills affair, but it still sounds fairly laboured. Rodriguez sounds like he is elsewhere at times and a bit sugary regarding the cast at others, but it does hold the odd gem.

The Making of is a bit of a spiel about the original ideas and influences and so forth, but resembles every other EPK style p.o.s. featurette you’ve ever seen.

The Effects of SK3D runs a boring 6:42 and essentially repeats itself every single time they describe whatever green screen effect they did next. Yawn.

Making Traks (sic) with Alexa Vega is a ripping 1:01 of Alexa recording her songs. Woo. This being a hard act to follow, it can’t be outdone by Surfing and Stunts a multi-angle sequence in which the gang surf molten lava much like the characters of Bionicle did a while back (and better, it must be said).

Big Dink, Little Dink is a cute piece about Bill Paxton and his son James in their first on-screen role together. Paxton is so proud it’s sweet, but this is just a five-second cameo Bill - please try and keep it together. That goes for 1:42, by the way.

Finally there’s a set-top game that co-ordinated I sucked at, so no doubt the kids will cry themselves to sleep over their inability to play it successfully.

Remember, should you wish to see any of these in 3D, see the disc without 3Ds all on it, cos that’s the only disc they are. Oh, and one last thing, Alan Cumming appears for an extra 2:20 or so in the 3D version as Floop instructing the kiddies when to put the goggles on. There are four pairs included with the disc plus a template with which to make more should you have more than four kids in your house. However, the whole ‘putting on the glasses’ thing is treated as if the kids are mind-numbed zombies and if it were any simpler or more obvious, I’d swear they were talking down to them. But they wouldn’t do that… would they?


This flaccid and uninspiring final film in the trilogy of the Spy Kids universe plays more like an advertisement for a bad and distended computer game than a film of any real content. Daryl Sabara as Juni does a great job hamming it up, as usual, but the supporting cast act like a kid’s film is too much for them, overblowing their roles to the point of annoyance. Stallone does bring Judge Dredd back to life briefly, however his role as a flower-child hippie is most unfortunate.

If your kids are begging you for this as their Christmas and birthday presents combined, maybe they mean it and you should grab it for them, but this generally feels too rushed, poorly scripted and plotted and generally poorly acted. The digital effects are mostly crap (though they have their good moments) and the cheesy finalé is nauseating.

No, I didn’t like it.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=4216
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      And I quote...
    "Sadly, Robert Rodriguez finally trips up…"
    - Jules Faber
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