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BUENA VISTA

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Robert Rodriguez
Cast:
Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Ricardo Montalban, Holland Taylor, Sylvester Stallone, Mike Judge
Writing Credits:
Robert Rodriguez

Tagline:
3rd Mission. 3rd Dimension.

Synopsis:
Carmen's caught in a virtual reality game designed by the Kids' new nemesis, the Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone). It's up to Juni to save his sister, and ultimately the world.

Box Office:
Budget
$39 million.
Opening Weekend
$33.417 million on 3344 screens.
Domestic Gross
$111.760 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 82 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 8/2/2011

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Robert Rodriguez
• Ten Minute Film School
• Alexa Vega In Concert
• “The Making of Spy Kids 3D
• “The Effects of the Game” Featurette
• “Making Tracks with Alexa Vega” Featurette
• “Surfing and Stunts” Multi-Angle Program
• “Big Dink, Little Dink” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks and Trailers
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM
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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Spy Kids 3D: Game Over [Blu-Ray] (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 29, 2011)

With a total gross of more than a billion dollars in the US, the Lord of the Rings flicks set the bar for modern film trilogies. In comparison, the $308 million total raked in by the three Spy Kids flicks looks pretty puny. However, when one considers that all three of those movies cost a total of $113 million – or only $1 million more than the gross of the first film - then they start to present a much rosier picture.

Decidedly profitable, 2001’s Spy Kids and 2002’s Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams also proved to be quite entertaining for both younger audiences and adults. Would the final part of the trilogy – 2003’s Spy Kids 3D: Game Over - live up to those standards?

No - Over gives us a definite disappointment. At the start of the flick, we re-encounter young Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara). We learn he no longer works as a secret agent for the OSS. Disillusioned, he went independent and acts as a private investigator for kids. He saves money to buy an impressive new virtual reality game called Game Over that all the kids crave.

Since his family still works for the OSS, he doesn’t see them much, though the agency constantly pesters him to return. They succeed when he hears from President Devlin (George Clooney). Juni learns his sister Carmen (Alexa Vega) got captured and that Game Over is a trap; it takes over players’ minds. Carmen’s stuck inside it; she attempted to hack it for OSS but was imprisoned mentally.

Juni needs to shut down the game within 12 hours before it goes live and millions of others suffer Carmen’s fate. However, Juni can’t capture the Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone), the one behind it. The OSS imprisoned him in cyberspace, and he created the game as his revenge. Juni needs to get Carmen out but leave behind the Toymaker.

Over simply follows all Juni’s efforts to save his sister and foil the game. The movie doesn’t present any plot more complex than that, and it really fails to feel like part of the Spy Kids series. Mastermind director Robert Rodriguez came up with the story as something independent of the series and didn’t create it with Spy Kids in mind. One can feel that disconnect as one watches Over, for it really doesn’t fit with the style of the earlier flicks at all.

During his audio commentary, Rodriguez discusses criticisms that the film received along these lines. He states that he doesn’t see the lack of cohesion as an issue because he doesn’t want to make the same movie over and over again. That’s fine, but if you make something as part of a film series, it needs to have something to do with the earlier movies. Otherwise, it feels like you just took the brand name and slapped it onto an unrelated product.

That’s the impression that Over gave me. As he mentions in the commentary, Rodriguez made it a Spy Kids movie as a matter of convenience. Whereas a film separate from that universe would require lots of exposition, here he could just dive in and get to the flick’s video game world. That may have saved him time, but it doesn’t make the end result any more compelling. If anything, the lack of exposition and development lends Over an even more mercenary air.

The flick really does come across as a video game brought to life, but I don’t mean that as much of a compliment. Actually, lots of modern video games present intricate, movie-style plots, but Over eschews those. Instead, it just presents a series of “levels” that don’t relate much to each other. There’s no real story or depth; it’s all about the action and effects.

And it’s about the 3D as well. This makes the movie feel quite gimmicky. To a degree, it seems to have no reason to exist other than to present lots of wacky 3D effects. As all sorts of elements fly out of the screen, one occasionally will feel like one’s stuck in a big-budget episode of the Dr. Tongue flicks from SCTV.

Unfortunately, nutty effects and 3D are all Spy Kids 3D: Game Over offer. The movie presents a sketchy plot that does little more than emulate a long video game. It suffers from a terribly anti-climactic ending and lacks any of the heart and charm found during the first two movies. Essentially just one big gimmick, Over presents some decent set pieces, but the package as a whole falls flat.

Footnote: be sure to stick around through the finish of the end credits. A fun treat awaits you there.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A/ Bonus B+

Spy Kids 3D: Game Over appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Almost everything about the image looked really good.

Sharpness occasionally became the only minor distraction, as parts of the movie could be a bit soft and tentative. However, virtually all of these instances stemmed from the original photography; the mix of digital effects and human actors sometimes left the picture a little loose. However, the flick usually appeared tight and concise, and I noticed no issues with shimmering or jaggies. Print flaws were absent in this immaculate transfer.

Both of the prior Spy Kids flicks delivered peppy palettes, and that continued to hold true for Over. The movie boasted dynamic, cartoony hues that consistently looked fresh and vivid. Blacks were deep and rich, while shadows showed nice clarity and delineation. Only the slight instances of softness kept this one from “A” level.

I also felt very pleased with the excellent DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Spy Kids 3: Game Over. The soundfield worked very well and added a lot to the film. Audio moved nicely across all five channels, and the different speakers displayed a lot of activities throughout the entire movie. Music demonstrated solid stereo imaging, and effects were placed appropriately in the spectrum. They transitioned neatly between speakers, and the surrounds added a good level of involvement to the package.

The many action sequences gave the track an opportunity to shine, and the mix created a fairly seamless and involving piece. Given the flick’s videogame setting, the soundfield didn’t need to worry about realism, so the surrounds tossed in lots of great material. Many effects as well as a lot of dialogue popped up from the rear, and those bits helped make it exciting and ambitious.

Audio quality also seemed positive. While the first two flicks demonstrated some minor issues connected to dialogue, they failed to pop up here. Speech was consistently concise and distinctive, and none of the prior hollowness marred the lines. The score was tight and vivid, with nice range.

Effects were accurate and vivid, as they lacked any issues related to distortion and also showed fine bass response. Low-end seemed tight and rich and kicked down the doors when necessary. Ultimately, the audio of Spy Kids 3 seemed very positive.

How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the original DVD from 2004? Both showed the expected improvements. Audio was more robust and powerful, while visuals seemed tighter, more dynamic and livelier. The Bli-ray delivered a nice step-up in quality.

The Blu-ray includes the same extras as the DVD, though one notable omission occurs: it drops the 3D version of the flick found on the original release.

We start with a very brisk audio commentary from director Robert Rodriguez. Fans who’ve heard Rodriguez’s many prior commentaries will know what to expect here. He offers a running, sporadically screen-specific piece and rarely comes up for air. Almost no empty spaces occur, so when one does pop up, it comes as a shock.

Rodriguez goes over just about everything you could want to know about the flick, or at least as much as he can fit into a 84-minute movie. He chats about his thoughts for the story, working with the actors, composing the score, editing, using digital technology, and issues connected to the 3D. This piece seems more technologically oriented than Rodriguez’s other ones, but that doesn’t create problems. He seems lively and engaging and covers the appropriate issues well in this solid commentary.

Up next comes yet another installation of Rodriguez’s Ten Minute Film School. The nine-minute and 51-second piece follows the same format of prior efforts. We watch quick film clips as well as raw footage while Rodriguez talks about the different elements. Most of the program concentrates on the extensive use of green screen, but he gets into some other bits like 3D and visual decisions. In an odd touch, the last few minutes gets into tips for improving your home movies. It’s another brisk and informative piece that entertains and tells us some nice notes.

After this we find Alexa Vega In Concert. This presents the actress’s performances of three songs: “Game Over” (three minutes, 32 seconds), “Heart Drive” (3:32), and “Isle of Dreams” (2:57). We see some footage of the Austin premiere – from which these songs come – and mostly watch Vega as she performs. It’s not terribly interesting.

Next we go to The Making of Spy Kids 3D. This 21-minute and 13-second program presents the standard mix of production clips, movie snippets, and interviews. We hear from Rodriguez, 3D expert Jeff Joseph, producer Elizabeth Avellan, visual effects artist Rodney Brunet, and actors Vega, Sylvester Stallone, Daryl Sabara, Ricardo Montalban, Ryan Pinkston, Bobby Edner, Courtney Jines, Bill Paxton, Alan Cumming, Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Emily Osment, Holland Taylor, Salma Hayek and Steve Buscemi. It includes some general story and production notes plus a brief history of 3D movies. That part’s moderately interesting, and we see a few decent shots from the production. Unfortunately, it’s mostly just a generic promotional piece that touts the film and congratulates many involved; it can easily be skipped.

After this we find The Effects of the Game. It runs six minutes and 42 seconds as it presents a study of the flick’s visual effects. Actually, “study” probably isn’t the right term, as the program includes no notes or narration about the work for the first five minutes. Instead, we see a mix of raw elements and final shots, and the program morphs between the two versions. During the final 102 seconds, we see CG animatics and Rodriguez tells us a little about them. Overall, this provides a cool look at the various elements.

A short look at the audio recording, Making Trax with Alexa Vega runs a mere 61 seconds. We see her tape one of the film’s songs. Notably, the piece lets us hear some of her bum notes, but it’s not very useful or interesting otherwise.

For a multi-angle feature, we go to Surfing and Stunts. It lets you jump between storyboards, green screen shots, and the final product; each segment lasts 68 seconds. I’d like to get a screen that shows all three options at the same time, but this is still a good way to depict the various stages for the scene.

Lastly, Big Dink, Little Dink fills 101 seconds. We get some quick notes from actor Bill Paxton about reprising the role from Spy Kids 2 as well as the involvement of his son James. We see a few decent shots from the production, but this clip seems generally insubstantial.

The disc opens with ads for Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, Alpha and Omega, Battle for Terra, and Thor: Tales of Asgard. These also appear under Trailers, and we get the theatrical trailer for Spy Kids 3 as well.

A second disc provides a digital copy of Spy Kids 3. With this, you can place the movie on a computer or digital viewing device. Woop!

Although I liked the first two movies in the series, Spy Kids 3D: Game Over falls flat. It includes a few good action pieces but feels like nothing more than a bunch of random events tenuously connected without a real story, charm or spark. The Blu-ray offers excellent picture, audio and supplements, though I suspect fans will feel disappointed that it lacks the film’s 3D version. If you don’t care about the 3D, this is the best way to see this mediocre flick.

To rate this film, visit the original review of SPY KIDS 3D: GAME OVER

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main