Review: “Spy Kids 3D – Game Over”

On the one hand you’ve got to give kudos to Robert Rodriguez for pulling off a real rarity – a trilogy of family movies of which all are at least decent films. The sad thing about these films is that whilst from a visual effects standpoint they’re excellent, especially considering how cheaply they were done for and yet how omnipresent they are, story-wise they’re pretty thin and get weaker with each passing entry.

For all its artistry, the third movie is one of the more streamlined and simple movies you’ll ever see which makes its re-watch value quite slim. Sure, the standard high production values are there from inventive use of effects to an all-star cast even Robert Altman could only dream of, and yet whilst its a fun albeit flat experience, one can’t help but feel much potential was wasted with an essentially cool idea.

Whilst the second ‘Kids’ film was a tribute of sorts to Ray Harryhausen, ‘Game Over’ is more of a young adult update of “Tron” with most of the film set inside a video game. To add to the effect Rodriguez brings back the old 3D red/blue glasses trick – a gimmick which was last used for the sixth “Nightmare on Elm St” movie and was big back in the 80’s.

It was problematic then, and it still is now with the eye strain and colour shift problems inherit to the design. The story of the film is also a little bit down as the focus now rests mostly on Sabara, a nice young star but the weaker of the siblings and even though Vega eventually comes in she’s too late to do much of anything.

Salma Hayek has a utterly unflattering role as the OSS tech head, Sylvester Stallone going awfully over the top in a bad way as the film’s villain, and Ricardo Montalbahn jumping about in a pink CG suit although he’s the best of the bunch.

Some of the smaller cameos are well done such as Elijah Wood & Alan Cumming, but many especially towards the end such as Bill Paxton, Steve Buscemi, Matt O’Leary, Danny Trejo, etc. are all pretty much wasted (and deliver 2-3 lines at most each) in the film’s rather woeful Power Rangers style finale battle. With such power in front of the camera its a surprise there wasn’t more time spent on working them into the story or have the likes of the impressive younger cast like O’Leary return instead of lots of young, new and forgettable kids.

Production values are impressive and with a short runtime, things move at a relatively nice pace – yet some sequences already feel painfully dated such as a volcano surf ride, whilst others from a laser sword battle to a Gladiator-style arena face-off feel lifted from far superior movies (although the road race sequence rocks quite well).

There’s the standard messages of family and seeking revenge is bad which are handled in decent ways without getting too sentimental, and yet if family is so important its a shame more of them weren’t present throughout the picture. A nice way to cap off the trilogy but if a fourth film ever gets made, here’s hoping there’s more substance to balance out the overuse of style.