2: The Island of Lost Dreams
Review written by: Alex Sandell
Must ... resist ... Spider-Man ... joke.
viewing the first in the Spy Kids' series, a 29-year-old friend of mine
asked, "why couldn't I have had movies like that when I was a kid?"
Being a huge fan of Spielberg and early Lucas, I was quick to remind him that he
had, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Star Wars and numerous
other astonishing family films to enjoy during his formative years. He
admitted that movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark were better films,
but there was still something about Spy Kids -- something he couldn't put
a finger on -- that made him long for a childhood spent in a theater watching
the adventures of two pre-teen secret agents. It didn't take me long
to figure out that what he desired wasn't a couple of hours watching Spy Kids
when he was a child, but a couple of quality years of being a spy when he was
still a kid.
original Spy Kids director Robert Rodriguez successfully tapped into this
longing for adventure that so many of us have and splashed a million childhood
fantasies across the screen, created his best movie to date and invented an
instant franchise. In Spy Kids 2, Rodriguez proves that he is still
as enthusiastic about the fantasy world he has fashioned as Spielberg was in
directing the little alien who befriended a lonely boy, or as George Lucas was
in pouring his heart into a time long ago in a galaxy far, far away. While
Spielberg has grown up and moved away from family oriented material, and Lucas
has been busy sucking all life out of his once spectacular Star Wars saga,
Rodriguez isn't quite ready to mature and move on and is still too in
the magical world he created to smother it in a fluffy pillow of ugly CGI and
up where the original left off, Robert Rodriguez takes us to even more of the
enchanted places we dreamed of visiting when we were kids. Starting with
the theme park full of wild rides that feels as though it was downloaded from a
child's fantastical imagination, all the way to the climatic battle on the
Island of Lost Dreams, a nostalgic place populated with mutated monsters,
warrior skeletons and other fun things who seem to have developed the ability to
stop-motion crawl their way out of our favorite monster movies of yesteryear and
into their second shot at glory in CGI form, Spy Kids 2 is chockfull of
nonstop inventiveness and unadulterated fun. By the time that you
reluctantly leave the theater you realize that the film caused you to give
yourself over completely to your inner-child and made you believe nearly
everything you saw on the screen, no matter how whimsical it may have been.
you are able to watch the film with an adult's eye, you will find that it is
generally pleasing. Some of the humor gets a tad too slapstick, and it
would have been nice to see the supporting players -- the competing Spy Kids,
their father and the mad scientist, in particular -- fleshed out a bit more.
But the acting is delightful, the two main spy kids have charisma in spades,
and, as hinted at above, the CGI beasties themselves are a top-notch tribute to
stop-motion greats such as Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen. Only the FX
gurus behind Jurassic Park and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring have
put on a more visually pleasing cinematic display of CGI creatures than the one that is shown to
us here. No, what you see isn't realistic, but damn if it doesn't feel
real. The creatures are tangible and three-dimensional. This is rare
for a CGI film, and a welcome change from the flat, lifeless computer generated
ick displayed in movies such as Attack of the Clones or Harry Potter.
On a scale of 1-10?
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Text ©(Copyright) 2002 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].
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