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  • Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003): ***

    Directed by Robert Rodriguez

    The final installment of the Spy Kids trilogy is thankfully better than the second film but not quite up to the level of the first film. It has many of the same problems of the second film but is much shorter, and has a more focused plot because of that. Not that it doesn't wander.

    It really feels like with the last couple of Spy Kids movies that Rodriguez just needed to give the scripts one more look-over to make sure they were actually coherent.

    Anyway. This film has over an hour of 3-D footage. I had never seen a real theatrical release of a 3-D movie before. It's really interesting. It kind of washes the color out. In the print of the film I saw the red of the glasses was just slightly off so that there were periodically ghost images because the red wasn't getting completely filtered out.

    The plot is about Juni, who retired last episode for some reason that really didn't make sense, being brought back to the OSS in order to save his sister, who has become trapped in a VR game by Sylvester Stallone's Toymaker, who has been imprisoned in VR since apparently 1973. How did they have VR back then? Don't ask. But from his VR prison he has managed to create a VR game that, when it goes online, will turn all the children who play it into basically zombies.

    From there the movie has basically an "interrupted journey" plot, where Juni has to get to Level 4 but obstacles and people keep getting in his way and he has to deal with each problem that presents itself before he can finally reach his goal. As such, this more than any other Spy Kid film is all about Juni. Carmen is actually only in about a half hour or so of the film.

    Much of the plot of the movie consists of people worrying that Grandfather (whom Juni brought into the game because of his tactical ability), who was put in a wheelchair by the Toymaker some 30 years ago, is going to release the Toymaker into the real world so that he can wreak some sort of horribly bloody vengeance upon him. Will he do it? Is his thirst for revenge so great that he will endanger the world just to get it? Can Juni (who didn't know about Toymaker and Grandfather's history when he brought Grandfather into the game) do anything about it?

    There are some sequences (especially the race) that really felt like a video game, and for that I give this film a ton of credit. All to often shows or cartoons that are supposed to take place in a video game feel absolutely nothing like a video game would actually be. But this film does.

    I really don't know how he does it, but Rodriguez inspires an unbelievable amount of loyalty from his actors. Practically everyone he's ever had in any of his films is in this movie in some capacity or another. George Cluny, Bill Paxton, Steve Buscemi, Mike Judge, Ricardo Montalban, Cheech Marin, Holland Taylor, Alan Cumming, Tony Shalhoub. Regular Salma Hayek has a role in this one after missing out on the last two (the only two Rodriguez films that she actually doesn't appear in). And most surprisingly is a freakin' hilarious cameo by none other than Elijah Wood (from Rodriguez's The Faculty) as a savior figure inside the video game (whom the players only hushly refer to as "The Guy").

    And I really, thoroughly enjoyed Sly Stallone's performance as the villain of the movie. I don't know why, but I thought he was great. He hams it up quite a bit.

    The film is a good amount of fun, but once again its strenghts are its art design and imagination. The sript, however, does make me nervous about the level of script in Rodriguez's upcoming One Upon a Time in Mexico. I really hope he takes the time to revise that script enough.

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