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Both Carmen and Juni are now superspies,
Esteemed for their expertise and their small size.
They’re called in to rescue the President’s daughter
When she gets in danger so her dad will spot her,
But Gary and Gerti, the Giggles, step in
And steal all the spotlight, to Juni’s chagrin.
 
A formal spy banquet gives cause for concern
When Donnagon Giggles, who’s crooked we’ll learn,
Is named the new head of the whole OSS,
When really it should have been Mr. Cortez.
Some magnetic henchmen who do not play nice
Attack and obtain the Transmooker device.
 
Though Juni is blamed for the prized gadget’s loss,
His sister, through hacking, just sidesteps their boss.
They send the two Giggles on some dirty mission
While they take a coveted new expedition.
They’re sent to an island that doesn’t exist,
But when their sub shuts down, it cannot be missed.
 
Their gadgets are useless upon this strange isle,
And after exploring and falling awhile,
They locate Romero, a scientist who
Made hybridized creatures to fill his own zoo.
These beasts run amok while their maker yet hides,
But he proves of use with the news he provides.
 
He built the Transmooker, which hides this whole isle,
And tells how to find it through many a trial.
Once they have fought skeletons, monsters, and Gary,
They get the Transmooker; it’s dangerous, very.
Meanwhile, their parents and grandparents track
Their whereabouts so they can bring the kids back.
 
At last, there’s a standoff between the two sides,
Cortezes and Giggles (Romero besides).
Though Donnagon’s winning, his daughter won’t let
Her father take over the world as a threat.
The villain is fired as OSS head,
And Mr. Cortez gets that honor instead.
Romero connects with his creatures at last,
And all the Cortezes, a team unsurpassed,
Go back home together. (The credits go fast.)
______________________
 

After the initial success of the first Spy Kids, it certainly had the potential to grow into a “keeper” of a franchise, and this sequel just confirmed that. Most people probably like the first one better, but I like Spy Kids 2 more because it ramps up the sheer coolness to new heights and leaves out the loopy weirdness of Floop for the most part in favor of more awesome weirdness.

In many ways, this film feels like Robert Rodriguez’s melting pot, in which he threw so many seemingly random elements that somehow still came together into a coherent and entertaining adventure. There are impressive gadgets, crazy theme park rides, magnet-heads, robot bugs, sea monsters, bottomless volcanoes, a mad scientist, flying pigs, Harryhausen-esque skeletons, miniature crossbreeds, giant crossbreeds, a flying wheelchair, girl power, and even Antonio Banderas’s mustache. The part with the skeletons and mind-reading does feel rather out of place, but any movie that can manage all that so successfully is quite an achievement.

Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara do just as well here as in the first film, and Steve Buscemi balances silliness and sincerity as Romero. It’s a shame that the villainous Donnagon (Mike Judge), as well as “Uncle” Felix (Cheech Marin), show so little gratitude for the fact that the Cortezes saved them from life as Fooglies in the first film. Yet Donnagon’s two children Gary and Gertie are welcome additions to the Spy Kids lineup, as are Holland Taylor and Ricardo Montalban as Ingrid Cortez’s parents. Plus, Bill Paxton looked like he was having fun in the opening scene at the amusement park.

With so much added to the franchise with this film, it’s a real shame that it degraded so quickly to Spy Kids 3-D. Journey to the Center of the Earth has many scenes clearly meant for 3-D, but it didn’t distract from the film too much. It was nice that Ricardo Montalban got more screen time, but Spy Kids 3-D was so obviously gimmicky and flimsy that its visuals and large cast could not save it from being a big disappointment for a franchise that had seemed to be getting better and better.

Even so, Spy Kids 2 stands out as another fun adventure, once again celebrating family ties. The special effects aren’t perfect but have a unique look that is sometimes reminiscent of Jason and the Argonauts. Plus, that concert at the end in which Alexa Vega sings “Isle of Dreams” is energetic, funny, and deserving of a spot in my End Credits Song Hall of Fame. Good stuff.

Best line: (Gary, and later Juni) “An agent is only as good as his gadgets.” (which is subtly disproved later on)

 
Artistry: 5
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: 7
Originality: 6
Watchability: 7
 
TOTAL: 40 out of 60
 

Next: #215 – Dances with Wolves

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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