|Spy Kids 2 - The Island of Lost Dreams|
|Written by Mel Odom|
|Tuesday, 18 February 2003|
Juni (Daryl Sabara) and Carmen Cortez (Alexa Vega) are back as the coolest Spy Kids ever. And that can only mean one thing: the world is in danger. An evil villain has hatched a nefarious plot. The tech from the first movie will be even wilder than ever. All of those things, and more, happen in “Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams.”
As the son and daughter of two of the most successful spies ever in the history of the OSS, Juni and Carmen were genetically destined to be spies. In fact, in this sequel to “Spy Kids,” viewers discover that even their mom’s parents were spies.
In Chapter 1, the daughter of the President of the United States visits a theme park where she is supposed to be met by her father. Unfortunately, Daddy President seems to have more important things to do than accompany his daughter to the park, so she’s escorted by the super-somber Secret Service agents that surround her night and day. The computer graphic special effects of the various rides are a hoot.
When the President’s daughter is taken to the Juggler, the newest ride in the theme park, she sabotages it and sets up an incident that she feels certain will draw Daddy out of the White House. Instead, the Secret Service contacts the OSS and asks for assistance. Two “small” OSS agents that fit the request happen to be in the theme park at the same time. As Juni and Carmen come to the rescue, the James Bond style music drives from the surround sound system with thundering excitement. Gadgets and gizmos galore break into the scene and push the action up into the stratosphere.
However, at the same time Juni and Carmen swing into action, two rivals show up. Gerti and Gary Giggles are SK Agents 3 and 4, listed just below Juni and Carmen’s 1 and 2 status. A miniature geekfest ensues as they match tech against tech. Within the space of a few short minutes, the situation with the President’s daughter is resolved. A device called the Transmooker is introduced, which comes into play again throughout the movie. At the end, Gary Giggles climbs into a miniature helicopter that resembles a kid_s arcade ride and takes off, stretching a trail of thundering rotorwash over the surround sound system till the noise fades in the background.
Chapter 2 blasts right into the opening credits, which sound suspiciously and rightly like those of a James Bond film. Once the credits pass, the soundtrack shifts to Latin guitar music as mother Ingrid Cortez (Carla Gugino) and daughter Carmen gather before the vanity mirror that doubles as a computer monitor. Carmen reveals her hacking skills, much to her mother’s chagrin and interest. The next scene between Juni and his dad Gregorio (Antonio Banderas) is a great piece of directing and acting, showing the experience and insecurity of the father-son relationship. The computer chirps and whistles made by Ralph the robot bug fit the scene and the character perfectly.
At the White House in Chapter 3, the Cortez family mixes and mingles. Gary asks Carmen to dance, but Juni says that according to family rules Gary has to ask their dad. Another magic father-son moment crops up as Juni and his dad stand together and put Gary on the spot.
Juni goes in search of the President’s daughter, and finds her dancing while surrounded by Secret Service agents. The crunch and thunder of the Secret Service agents’ footsteps as they move crash through the subwoofer. Music continues to highlight the series of scenes at the dinner, including Juni’s ballet sequence, proving he is every inch (although there are fewer of them) the debonair secret agent. As the President is introduced at the dinner, applause rings all around. Adults drink their wine in a toast, and all collapse with basso thumps that whirl through the surround sound system. The fight between the red-suited villains and the Spy Kids, the only ones still awake at the end of the drugged wine incident, is a visual confection of martial arts and high-tech gizmos. The food fight that ensues is heavy-hitting, with thuds that ring through the subwoofer. At one point, Juni captures the Transmooker, but Gary Giggles tries to take it from him and the device is lost.
As a result of the Transmooker’s disappearance, Juni gets fired from the OSS. Gary gets the glory for trying to save the device. In a brief interlude, the movie audience sees that the device is indeed in the hands of the red-uniformed villains.
Depressed and totally down, Juni returns home. Carmen suggests that they go to the tree house, which is a total fantasy for kids, complete with elevator in the tree trunk. Carmen hacks into the OSS computers, reinstates Juni as a Spy Kid agent. A sequence with Ralph the robot is awesome, including footage of Ralph doing some very credible Spider-Man like webslinging. Carmen and Juni tech up to a loud crescendo of driving music after their gadget supplier, Machete (Danny Trejo), shows up.
In Chapter 6, a helicopter tracks across the sky from the left front speaker to the center speaker(s). Again, the tech in the movie is truly awesome. Juni throws away a “disposable” graphic screen that looks like it is made completely out of thin air. When Carmen and Juni power through the sea in the dragonfly sub, the powerful motors thrum all around the surround sound system and throb through the subwoofer. The graphic of the sub is totally cool – every young viewer watching the movie will want one.
Placing a call to Alexander Minion (Tony Shalhoub), their friend from the first “Spy Kids” movie, Carmen first talks to kiddie show host Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming). When Floop yells “cut,” the resounding thuds of animatrons hitting the floor around him spill through the surround sound system. Minion gives the information to Carmen and Juni. The dragonfly spy sub powers down unexpectedly, and the sound echoes through the subwoofer. The inflatable suits are an absolute visual riot.
Chapter 8 returns to the Cortez parents while they’re having an argument about Ingrid’s parents. Just as they are hashing out that difficulty, Donnagon Giggles (Mike Judge) arrives and lets them know Carmen and Juni are missing. Greg and Ingrid swing into action with moves that are so synchronized they defy belief. The music thumps to life again as the Cortez parents get teched up for the mission.
The mysterious island shows up in Chapter 9, accompanied by a two-headed sea serpent that is wonderfully rendered. The waves crashing on the beach roll through the surround sound system. Unfortunately, Carmen and Juni discover that their gadgets don’t work on the island. From this point on, the action intensifies and the mission takes on startling repercussions that are an amazing fantasy for young viewers.
The special features included on the DVD come as a nice package. Robert Rodriguez’s info on the special effects is awesome, especially how the scenes were built using miniatures and green screens. Some of the missing scenes also reveal green screen techniques as well as additional story material.
”Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams” is a great addition to the family library. Younger viewers, ages five through 10, will want to watch the action and the stunts again and again, and scenes with animated skeletons and the fantasy creatures are marvelously rendered and terrifically funny. Families wanting a film that everyone can sit down with for an evening together will find that “Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams" has something to offer all ages.