Lionsgate // 2002 // 100 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // August 14th, 2011
Huge new adventure. Slightly larger spies.
With Spy Kids, Robert Rodriguez launched a well-received, profitable big-screen family adventure on a low budget by assuming several key production roles. In the end, his formula to save money without sacrificing story paid off; the film made a killing at the box office and spurred interest in a sequel. Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams arrived in theaters just one year after the release of its predecessor. Now the movie is finally available on Blu-ray.
Alexa Vega (Sleepover) and Daryl Sabara (Machete) are back in action as Carmen and Juni Cortez, two skilled spies who followed in their parents' footsteps and are ready for their next big mission. This time, the Cortez clan must locate the Transmooker, a stolen device that has the power to shut down all technology and grant insurmountable power to its owner. Following a trail of hot clues pointing to a secret buried deep within the very organization they work for, Carmen and Juni head to a mysterious island to retrieve the Transmooker and identify the evil villain who plans to use the device to take over the world.
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams does a fine job grabbing the energy and goofiness from the first film and taking it to the next level. The sequel works primarily because Rodriguez decided to inject the franchise with a new sense of freshness, bringing back the key people from the first film and introducing new characters to raise the stakes and keep the storyline as engaging for children as possible. Surely enough, he succeeded, because this Spy Kids adventure is just about as much fun as its predecessor.
Now that Juni and Carmen are expert spies eager to embark on their next mission, one of the new challenges they are facing is their overconfidence, which Rodriguez cleverly addresses by having the kids rely on their brains rather than their awesome gadgets. On top of that, pressure mounts for the Cortezes as they have to compete with Gary (Matt O'Leary, Sorority Row) and Gerti Giggles (Emily Osment, Hannah Montana), a new and aggressive brother-and-sister spy team vying for success and recognition. Needless to say, the young spies have their hands full.
Although Spy Kids 2 stays true to its predecessor in terms of structure, style, and production values, the film boasts tons of silly action and entertaining characters engaging enough to keep young viewers cheering for our heroes. By now, we all know Rodriguez enjoys sending the spy kids to magical worlds, and his decision to have them explore a strange island inhabited by awkwardly mutated creatures definitely pays off. If that's not adventurous enough, he also got Steve Buscemi to play an eccentric scientist living inside a volcano. His appearance alone counts as one of the film's highlights.
Visually, this sequel very much looks like Spy Kids as well, and that's just fine. Rodriguez doesn't rely on making these films work based solely on their special effects, and as a result, they look cheap and cheesy. His targeted audience buys the whole thing anyway, and he gets to save tons of money and crank out these films in no time. His formula works; I have to give him that.
Much like the first film, Spy Kids 2 works thanks to wonderful performances by the entire cast. Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara are getting better and better, and O'Learly and Osment make a nice addition to the team. Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino return as Juni and Carmen's enjoyable parents, and Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor celebrate two refreshing appearances as the Cortez grandparents. Mike Judge, Cheech Marin, and the legendary Machete round out this electrifying ensemble.
Moving on to the technical specs of this Blu-ray release, Spy Kids 2 looks pretty fantastic. Carrying a solid 1.78:1 widescreen presentation, the disc offers a crisp, clean picture quality with strong colors and decent contrast levels. In the audio department, we've got a superb DTS-HD Master 5.1 mix that will make your surround sound system happy.
In terms of special features, nothing has changed from the previously released standard definition DVD edition. That said, the bonus section boasts some informative goodies, including a compelling audio commentary during which Rodriguez shares a ton of information regarding his way of shooting on the cheap. Also included are a few behind-the-scenes featurettes, a piece on how to utilize small sets and integrate them with CGI, deleted scenes with optional commentary, and a music video. A second disc features a digital copy of the feature.
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (Blu-ray) proves the Spy Kids series is alive and kicking, and for diehard high-definition fans, this Blu-ray release is a great value; the film looks and sounds wonderful. What can I say? Robert Rodriguez has done it again...
Review content copyright © 2011 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Music Video
* Digital Copy