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Spy Kids 2--Harryhausen alert!

Posted: Sun Aug 11, 2002 7:07 pm
by Remo D
If someone were to talk to me about SPY KIDS 2: ISLAND OF LOST DREAMS and make a reference to "lousy CGI monsters," I'd have to respond along the lines of "you just don't get it."

You've probably seen in the trailer that this film contains a tribute to the "skeleton warrior" battle in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS--and there's a lot more where that came from. Here's the catch: the plentiful creatures are CGI, all right, and they're not quite the same "state of the art" creations as found in JP3, etc. But they're not supposed to be. These creatures are supposed to look and move exactly like all your favorite monsters from the SINBAD, JASON, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, etc. movies in a full-fledged tribute to master animator Ray Harryhausen. And yes, the man himself is properly thanked in the end credits. So... if that pushes your "nostalgia" button at all, go be first in line and I think you'll be quite happy.

The movie itself? My experienced, knowledgeable ten-year-old daughter beat me to the punch after the credits had rolled, when she said "The first one was kind of better." And it was. The original SPY KIDS had the whole "joy of discovery" thing going for it, and it's still one of the very best contemporary family (not kiddie) films out there. The sequel's not bad--it's just not special in the same way--it starts with everyone already in "action" mode and it throws twice as many effects at you. Cheech Marin's character is treated disgracefully (and pointlessly), and Danny Trejo is limited to a cameo (unless you stay for the end titles, which you should--extra scenes and bloopers for all).

On the other hand, Steve Buscemi and Ricardo Montalban are welcome additions to the cast, and the parents are fine once again. Antonio Banderas, in particular, is completely unafraid to spoof himself, and he's a riot. ("May I have my mustache back, please?") He restages the "hair grooming" sequence from the Rodriguez segment of FOUR ROOMS (unquestionably the best part of that misbegotten project), and he's involved in some hysterical hand-to-hand combat near the end. And the kids themselves are as fun to watch as ever--if you're in charge of some children, they'll have a good time if you treat them to this one.

So the law of diminishing returns applies, but there's still sufficient reason for SPY KIDS 2 to be worth your while if you're either a) a Harryhausen fan or b) a parent/caregiver.

And I'll still take it over THE FACULTY.