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Spy Kids 3: Game Over (Blu-ray Review)

I am a big fan of filmmaker Robert Rodriguez; however, I never quite made the plunge to go and see his “kids” films.  While Rodriguez has made some pretty hard R-rated features in his time (Desperado, From Dusk til Dawn, Sin City), he has also let his wild imagination carve himself out a niche in the kid friendly category as well.  With his Spy Kids films finally hitting Blu-ray (in anticipation for the 4th film in the franchise), it seemed like a good opportunity to force myself to finally see this side of Rodriguez’s filmography.  Having heard good things about the first two, I was excited to get a chance to check these flicks out.  Unfortunately, I now know why I only heard good things about the first two films in this series, as the third film really drops the ball. While I can see that Robert Rodriguez still had plenty of ideas, I think his ambition may have gotten the best of him this time around, as the whole film feels incredibly forced.

Film:

So the spy kids are back, well kind of.  It seems that Carmen (Alexa Vega) is trapped inside of a video game and it is up to her brother Juni (Daryl Sabara) to rescue her.  Basically resembling something like Tron, this film involves kids participating in a very popular video game by literally inserting themselves into it.  Juni is tasked by his spy superiors to enter the game and find his sister as well as learn what else is really going on.

We soon find out that the man behind this video game and its possibly evil intentions is none other than the super-villain known as Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone), who is bent on what I assume to be world domination.  As Juni makes his way through the various levels of the game, he is joined by other fellow gamers, as well as his grandfather (Ricardo Montalban).  While grandpa may be in a wheelchair in real life, this video game provides him with the means to act just as lively as anyone.  Juni and eventually Carmen will certainly need all the help that they can get, as this video game is full of deadly surprises.  Good thing it features co-op play.

Right away I knew I was in a bit of trouble with this film, as it begins with Daryl Sabara on his own, narrating the film.  I have previously expressed my lack of fondness for Sabara as a young actor, which has unfortunately carried over into this film as well.  He just can’t sell some of the emotion and actions required of his character.  It is not a matter of critiquing the acting of a film like this, but more a comment on how it seems so obvious that he is the wink link of a pretty strong cast.  Still, the film kind of benefits by continuing to have the rest of the cast from the previous films show up in small roles; however, this also leads to my next problem with the film.

As Robert Rodriguez decided to work almost entirely with digital sets (using a giant green screen to provide the location for almost everything), he was able to use all of the different actors at different times.  As a result, while it may look seamless, the film has a disjointed feel, which seems very apparent now, knowing that almost all of the adult actors were practically never working with each other during the shooting of the film.  It almost seems as if Rodriguez used this film as a test for his work on Sin City, which would employ the same process, but done so much more effectively.

The other big problem involves the story.  While Rodriguez has never been the strongest writer when it comes to plot or characters, his films always at least tended to have a zippy feel to everything.  The charm and imagination were big parts of what made the first two Spy Kids films so successfully entertaining.  Unfortunately, the story in this film is very repetitive and uninspired.  It has an ok starting premise that involves taking the characters inside a game, but once inside, nothing really comes together as exciting, as we simply watch Juni essentially try to accomplish the same task over and over again.  It doesn’t help that the design for this video game world looks ugly.  I can see the intention of resembling some kind of game in general, but this film ditches the wonderful, imaginative energy that was present in the other films and just looks…lame.

There are two things I have yet to address. The first is Stallone.  I have to say, I did not find him bad in this film, despite the almost-too-easy desire to really dig into him here.  He knows exactly what kind of film he is in and actually has fun in his role, which includes three other versions of his character’s personality, whom he can talk to, as he made them as digital projections to keep himself company.  The 3D is another issue.  While the film was originally released in 3D, that format has been stripped away from this Blu-ray release (including the title).  Still, while it is no longer in 3D, you can easily see how Rodriguez went with the gimmick by having his effects and actors constantly bursting towards the camera.  As a result, it now just looks kind of silly, but I guess that is fitting of the film.

I was saddened by how the good will created in the first two films was stripped away in this third entry.  It has basically killed my interest in going to see a fourth film in the Spy Kids saga.  All of the wit and humor that was present before is replaced by bad digital effects work, which may be quite colorful but has no real creative energy that had me wanting to see more.  The film ended up being the shortest, but actually felt like the longest.  I missed the presence of family this time around as well, as we are left with only a few key characters to follow, with other cast members only showing up towards the end.  At least Rodriguez finally managed to find a place for Salma Hayek…

Video: 


Now working with digital cameras, it would seem as if Rodriguez films and Blu-ray go hand and hand at this point.  The flick looks fantastic on Blu-ray.  While the effects are noticeable at times, in terms of how much green screen usage is at play, the film still looks incredibly bright and colorful throughout.  The disc does supply an AVC encoded 1080p transfer and it looks very good throughout.  While I can’t really come to terms with enjoying this movie, it is certainly a feast for the eyes in terms of seeing this video game world make way for a very colorful presentation.  It helps that the film does not have the darkness supplied by its theatrical 3D presentation as well.

Audio: 

Spy Kids 3 features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which is basically the best kind of track one would want for this film.  The various action scenes are all filled with a lot of crazy sound effects and the score provided by Rodriguez comes across great throughout.  I had practically no issues with the audio for this film, as I was able to register everything involved in the film, whether it is corny dialogue or crazy video game-like sounds.  A very good audio mix, further helping the presentation quality of the film overall.

Special Features: 

It is a bit irritating getting to this portion of the disc, as it has the one key feature that I love in all Robert Rodriguez special features sections: the 10-minute film school; however, all of the features are presented in SD quality.  There are still some decent featurettes present, but nothing that really stands out beyond the film school and commentary.  Special features include:

  • Audio Commentary by Robert Rodriguez – Always a good speaker.
  • Robert Rodriguez Ten-Minute Film School – The best feature on the disc, which is wrapped up early and manages to take a look at some of Rodriguez’s home movies with his kids.
  • Alexa Vega in Concert
  • The Making of Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over
  • The Effect of the Game
  • Making Tracks with Alexa Vega
  • Surfing and Stunts (Multi-Angle)
  • Big Dink, Little Dink – I actually admired this brief featurette, which has Bill Paxton explaining his son’s presence in the film and being a good dad.  A charming extra feature.
  • Trailers
  • Digital Copy Version of the Feature Film

Final Thoughts:

Unfortunately, the great vibe that ran through the first two entries in this film stops way short for the third film.  Spy Kids 3 would have been a much bigger disappointment if I did not already know, going in, that it was not regarded as a good movie.  Still, the movie is pretty lame, which is the best word to describe it.  The plot is uninspired, the imagination is sorely lacking this time around, and the mixed appearances of cast members really did not do the film much good, beyond seeing Ricardo Montalban having some fun, seeing George Clooney show up to do a Stallone impression, and having Salma Hayek be around in general.  A bad way to move this series along and Spy Kids 4 does not look to be changing anything for the better.  The picture and audio quality is quite spectacular however and there are some good extra features, so the Blu-ray disc is not a total loss; I just wish the film was better.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

2 Responses to “Spy Kids 3: Game Over (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Matt Goodman

    … I quite liked this film.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    Funny enough, as much as I hated this flick upon its release, I really enjoyed it this time out. It’s saving grace is the late-great Ricardo Montalban as Grandfather. I miss him. The scenes of him interacting with Juni are great. He was also given the greatest tributes in that he was made this great superhero in the game. He may have lost the use of his legs in the latter part of his life, but was able to kick some ass in the film. IDK, it really sealed the deal for me. I enjoyed it more than part 2.

    I thought Stallone was cool, too.