Spy Kids appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. While the movie often looked quite good, some issues cropped up along the way.
The vast majority of these connected to softness and often appeared to be connected to the source material. As I note in the review, the film’s visual effects had problems 10 years ago, and they look even worse now. They led to a lot of rather soft shots throughout the movie; we got plenty of composite images that tended to come across as iffy and indistinct.
If these soft spots only showed up during obvious effects scenes, I’d be more forgiving, but I saw quite a few sequences that came across as a bit undefined for no apparent reason. These soft elements never seemed tremendously indistinct, but they cropped up enough to cause distractions.
The effects created the occasional example of edge haloes, but otherwise, those weren’t an issue, and I witnessed no moiré effects or jagged edges. Print flaws were a non-issue, as they failed to create any blemishes or distractions.
Colors looked pretty strong. Spy Kids offered a nicely broad and varied palette, and these hues came across well. They occasionally threatened to turn runny, but they didn’t; instead, they remained vivid. Black levels also appeared to be deep and rich, and shadow detail was appropriately dark but not excessively heavy. Without the (occasionally unavoidable) softness, this would’ve been a terrific presentation, but the issues with definition made it a “C+”.
DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked well and was more consistent. 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.
Unfortunately, the quality of the sound seemed a little weak. Dialogue was slightly trebly and stiff at times, but that wasn’t a serious issue. Music displayed good dynamic range, and effects sounded clear and accurate. They also displayed positive but unexceptional low-end, though they packed a nice punch at times. This wasn’t a killer track, but it was good enough for a “B+”.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the ? The audio was a decent step up, as the DTS track seemed a bit clearer, more robust and better defined.
The visuals became more complicated. Though I mentioned softness issues, I still think the Blu-ray outdid the DVD. The latter format’s lower resolution helped hide sins; I’m sure it had the same softness problems but they didn’t seem evident. The higher resolution of Blu-ray made inherent flaws more prominent, so I saw softness here that I didn’t notice on DVD. Though the Blu-ray’s image didn’t dazzle me, it did improve on the DVD’s presentation.
Note that the Blu-ray offers a different cut of the film than the one on the 2001 DVD. After the theatrical edition’s spring 2001 run, a special edition version of the flick hit screens in August 2001. The former came out on DVD but as far as I can tell, the latter never made it to home video.
The Blu-ray lacks the theatrical cut and replaces it with the longer SE cut. It adds about three minutes and shows the kids as they go through a cave filled with sleeping sharks. It’s an interesting sequence that’s nice to see.
The theatrical DVD included virtually no extras, but this SE Blu-ray comes with a smattering of components. First comes a documentary called Growing Up Spy Kids. It runs 48 minutes, 10 seconds and features notes from writer/director Robert Rodriguez, producer Elizabeth Avellan, prop master Steve Joyner, stunt coordinator Jeff Dashnaw, special makeup effects supervisor Greg Nicotero, and actors Antonio Banderas, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Carla Gugino, Matt O’Leary, Emily Osment, Alan Cumming, and Tony Shalhoub. “Growing” looks at the project’s roots and development, story/character topics, cast and performances, props and gadgets, stunts and action, various effects, Rodriguez’s impact on the set and shoot, music, and general memories.
Though we hear more about the first movie, “Growing” covers all three Spy Kids flicks. This means it can be a bit all over the place, but it’s a fun examination of the series. It’s nice to see the grown-up child actors and hear an overview about the franchise. Nothing stellar appears here, but we find an enjoyable program.
Four featurettes follow. Ten Minute Film School goes for eight minutes, six seconds and gives us various movie elements accompanied by commentary from Rodriguez. He talks about basics of how he pulled off the flick’s technical elements. A staple of Rodriguez DVDs, these are always fun and informative; this one follows that trend and offers a brisk take on different filmmaking topics.
Another tutorial shows up via Ten-Minute Cooking School. It fills six minutes, four seconds and presents Rodriguez with Vega and Sabara. They teach us Rodriguez’s recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich as well as Vega’s and Sabara’s plans for healthy smoothies. The sandwich doesn’t look good; I doubt I’ll ever try either, but this is still a fun bonus.
Under Stunt Piece, we get a six-minute, 48-second program from 2001. It includes comments from Vega, Sabara, Dashnaw, Rodriguez, Banderas, Gugino, and various unnamed stunt kids. The show opts for a pretty fluffy tone, but it includes a few interesting notes and is worth a look.
Finally, Special Effects Piece goes for seven minutes, three seconds and features Rodriguez, Nicotero, Joyner, assistant prop master Caylah Eddleblute, visual effects supervisor Chris Olivia and costume designer Deborah Everton. As expected, they cover different effects, with an emphasis on practical elements like the Fooglies masks. This is another quick but informative piece; really, it’s quite strong given its brevity.
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 both the teaser and theatrical trailers for Spy Kids as well.
A second disc provides a digital copy of Spy Kids. With this, you can place the movie on a computer or digital viewing device. Yeah!
Spy Kids is a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. It seemed warm, engaging and surprisingly exciting. The Blu-ray offers good sound and supplements plus inconsistent but acceptable visuals. The picture issues are a little disappointing, but the Blu-ray’s still the best representation of the movie I’ve seen.