Spy Kids 2: The Island Of... (2002)
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Review Date: August 10, 2002
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Robert Rodriguez
Producers: Robert Rodriguez, Elizabeth Avellan
Alexa Vega as Carmen Cortez
Daryl Sabara as Juni Cortez
Antonio Banderas as Gregorio Cortez
The spy kids are back but this time their assignment takes place on an invisible island on which intermixed creatures roam and a device called the Transmooker is set to take over the world. Who will get to it first? Will the kids' rival spies get it? Will the leader of the nasties nab it first? Will anyone survive?? Kiddie spy stuff ensues...
Color me surprised as this follow-up to the fun, gadget-filled original was pretty much as entertaining as the first, with plenty of more cool gadgets, plenty of new characters and situations, and a torrid pace that would leave even the greater MTV watchers of the world with little time to catch their breath. Credit Robert Rodriguez (and it would be hard to credit anyone but him, since the man's name appears in pretty much every single acknowledgment at the end of the film) for having his pulse on fun kid's stuff (the man's got three of his own, so apparently he knows a thing or two about a thing or two), generating mucho energy, creating ultra-cool fantasy environments and for wrapping it all up in his typical Rodriguez directing style, with plenty of swishes, pans and camera tricks, perfectly in tune with the movie. I did had the most fun during this flick's first half though, with its many enjoyable technological trinkets all partying up the screen for children and adults alike (where can I buy me one of them cool "Ralph" insect robots?), as well as its rapid-fire pace and action sequences. But even the stuff on the actual island (which took over the second half of the pic) was enjoyable enough for me to recommend to anyone wanting to float away to a children's fantasy camp for a couple of hours. Kudos also go out to the two lead kids, Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara, who continue to make the grade as believable super-duper spy kids, as well as their new adversaries in this round, Steve Buscemi's psycho Dr. Dolittle scientist character, Bill Paxton's over-the-top carnival freak host (don't leave the theater until all the credits are done rolling because there's some additional stuff between the two fellers as well-and a nifty Britney Spears parody) and the two new additions to the Cortez family, Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor, the in-laws from hell.

I especially dug the scene in which Montalban needled Banderas about how to drive the spy-sub...classic stuff, which adults will appreciate as much as kids. The opening scene at the amusement park and its fantastic rides was also quite the treat (and are those rides a friggin' gas or what?!) Most everyone from the first flick also makes a re-appearance in this installment, including the very cool thumb-thumbs, who I want to have as my own slaves (I've got my own shit going on in that department). The one thing that I can say was a little "off-base" in this film was the CGI stuff on the island and its monsters. A lot of it just looked plain fake, and even though it might've been paying tribute to some of Harryhausen's stuff, it still looked a little too blue screen for me at times. I did like the tip of the cap to both Raimi (ARMY OF DARKNESS) and George Romero though...classy. All in all, you can't really go wrong with this movie which packs the mighty wallop, strikes a perfect "spy" score, fills its every minute with extra-cool knick-knacks from every kid's wildest dreams (and some adults, as well), slips a cutesy "family" message into the mix and delivers a decent enough story to boot. It's certainly no grand James Bond adventure, but it does the trick and as per its original...made me wish to be a kid again, and that's always a good thing (too bad about my drinking habit). See it, love it, spy it! (huh??)
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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