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Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over is the third film in Robert Rodriquez’ (El Mariachi, Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn) action packed series. While it seems the steam is beginning to run out, this can most likely be attributed to the 3-D gimmick which, while working most of the time, overpowers any possible character development and most of the wit of the series. Fortunately though, the DVD package is a worthwhile one.

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (Collector's Series)

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over finds the Cortez siblings going different ways. Juni (Daryl Sabara) has struck out on his own by becoming a private detective. Carmen (Alexa Vega), however, has gone on a mission to stop the evil Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone) from taking over the world. In order to stop him, Carmen must enter the game world in which the Toymaker is contained. Her mission comes to a halt when she is last seen on the fourth level. Even though her body is fine in the real world, the game has power over her mind and she must be rescued. Juni must return to his old spy ways in order to save his sister, beat the game and stop the Toymaker. Doing this requires him to complete the impossible level five.

Depending on who you are, it is going to be either good or bad that the above paragraph explains just about the entire plot. The movie’s script is mainly a springboard for what are, admittedly, some amazing visual sequences (the lava scene in particular was a wonder to behold). The problem, however, is that much of the wit and mass appeal of the first two is sidetracked by the need to present constant eye candy. It is an entertaining watch the first time, make no mistake about it, but as far as repeated viewing goes, many older (and by older I mean teens and up) folk will be bored. This film is definitely a kid’s movie, where as the first two Spy Kids films were only marketed as such and could be enjoyed by just about anyone of any age. The 3-D trick is fun though, and I never suffered any adverse effects from the red and blue glasses. There are cues in the film that let you know when you are to take the glasses off to view scenes that are played in tradition 2-D (i.e. those scenes outside the game world).

The acting is solid across the board and there is a bevy of celebrity cameos in the film. The children especially shine here as they have in the previous films. The standout here is Grandfather, played perfectly by Ricardo Montalban (Fantasy Island, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). He is given the best lines and his relationship with Juni is a highlight of the movie and made me yearn for more of the key relationships from the previous films. Rodriguez’ direction is exciting as usual and he handles the challenges of 3-D very well, creating rich sequences throughout.

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over is the weakest of the series in terms of ability to appeal to a wide audience. Whether it was intentional or not, the movie focuses on entertaining the younger audiences and skips out on most of the winks at the older folks found during the first two films. Much of this is due to the inherent limitations of 3-D technology.  Who wants to listen to exposition and learn about the characters when there could be giant robots leaping out of the screen? I will recommend this to all the kids I know but would caution parents to stick to the first two.

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (Collector's Series)

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. One disc contains the film in its original 3-D form, while the second contains a traditional 2-D presentation. Parts of the 3-D film contain 2-D scenes (the viewer is instructed when to take off the 3-D glasses, 4 pairs of which are included with the DVD). The 3-D is quite good, with great depth. There are a few scenes, however, that look very blurry. Colours are obstructed when using the red and blue glasses though this is not a fault of the particular film.

During the 2-D scenes and throughout the 2-D presentation on the second disc, the picture is slightly soft. Otherwise, the colours are very rich. There is no edge enhancement to speak of and there are no compression artefacts. During some scenes of intense movement, there’s a jumping effect most likely caused by the filming process used to enhance the 3-D effects. Overall, this is a very nice transfer.

The movie is presented with a superb Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The surround effects are rich, diverse and constant provide the viewer with a dynamic, all-encompassing experience. The score (by Rodriguez himself, of course) is used well to heighten the excitement. There are many deep effects that really push an audio system hard. This is a great surround experience that heightens the enjoyment of the 3-D action on screen.

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (Collector's Series)

If commentaries are my favourite DVD feature (which they are), Robert Rodriquez is in my top five DVD commentary providers. He is absolutely passionate about movie making and it is obvious by the enthusiasm with which he speaks about his films. The commentary track provided for Spy Kids 3-D is no different. Rarely taking even a second for a breath of air, Rodriquez expels as much information about the film as you could ask for. There is technical information aplenty as well as insight into the script process and behind the scenes anecdotes. Always a treat, Rodriquez shines once again.

Another Rodriquez staple is the Ten Minute Film School. On this particular DVD, Rodriquez talks about the green screen effects work in the film. He speaks mainly about the creative power he was able to use because of (not despite) the small budget.  What seems like a technical piece is truly a lesson in the power of creativity. There are many behind the scenes clips included here. As always, Rodriquez finds time to give some quick, useful tips on making home movies better, this time through the use of good sound effects. Thanks Rob!

An Adventure Into the 3rd Dimension: The Making of Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over is an excellent making-of featurette. Though there are some of the fluff interview clips that irk me so much about other featurettes of this kind, the piece is generally very interesting. There is some technical information here (much of it already covered in the commentary) and even a short history of the art of 3-D filmmaking. At a little over twenty minutes, this featurette is worth the time.

The Effects of the Game is a study of the creation of effects shots in the film.  Surfing and Stunts is a multi-angle featurette presenting the storyboards, rough animation and final shots in the lava scene.  This is a fun breakdown and should be viewed if you enjoy these types of features.  Making Tracks with Alexa Vega and Big Dink, Little Dink are two very short pieces that include Alexa and a mic and Big Dink (Bill Paxton) and his son in the film.  Two strange pieces indeed - ultimately forgettable but worth checking out if you are curious.

There is an onscreen tool that helps the viewer adjust his or her television settings in order to achieve the maximum 3-D effect. It does work, it does help and I highly suggest you check it out before trying to watch the entire film. There is also a phone number to call if one should desire more 3-D glasses.

Rounding out this excellent package are three songs from Alexa Vega (she sings?), a 3-D game that lets you play the race from the film and a collection of trailers. Fans of the film and those that are just curious about the work put into it will find a great deal of information in these supplements and should be thankful for the excellent presentation.

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (Collector's Series)

While not as good as the first two films, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over manages to provide a gimmick that helps us older folks enjoy the film more than we probably should. Children will eat this movie for breakfast until something else comes along. Pick this up for the kids in the house, enjoy it once yourself and be sure to check out the great extras contained within.