Reviews

The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl

By Garth Franklin

Using the CG bag of tricks that made the decreasingly interesting "Spy Kids" franchise into a hit family film series, Robert Rodriguez's 'Shark Boy' is an at times quite imaginative little adventure for the single-digit aged crowd but lacks that crossover appeal that made the adventures of the Cortez family such a strong little franchise.

Re-using that hi-tech CG meets low-brow 3-D effect that made 'Game Over' such a surprise hit, "Shark Boy" to its credit offers some creative ideas and spins with its sci-fi fantasy world ranging from a milk & cookie land, cute talking sharks and various fun names for things such as the 'trains of thought'.

A strong young cast delivers decently convincing performances even if the adults of the piece ranging from George Lopez to David Arquette look and feel like they're not in their element. Even during some hokey sequences or moments when the graphics purely take over with their rollercoaster rides, the youngsters provide a firm anchor in the kiddie fantasy world.

The trouble is the story just isn't interesting. The kid overcoming public disbelief over his new friends angle is fun but all too familiar. The various beats of the film have been done to death in the likes of the far greater "Wizard of Oz" or even "Spy Kids" , despite this film's more far out presence, "Shark Boy" lacks that contemporary edge to make it fresh or that mythological aspect to make it timeless.

There's a cute attempt to bring some more grown-up elements in with the questioning of the reality of the whole situation, but overall the scripting and story is on the simple and rather lacklustre side. The 3D element is also old hat, never really surprising or delivering serious jolts - and in a time when the technology has vastly improved with the likes of the far clearer 3D IMAX versions, it seems anachronistic.

Effects are impressive if somewhat cartoony. Rodriguez does his usual solid job with his various tasks ranging from editing to scoring to cinematography. All up its a cute kids fantasy adventure but somewhat lacking in life despite its wild imagination. Fine for the pre-schoolers but not much else.

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