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Carmen (Alex Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara) are now Level 2 OSS agents about to set off on their own solo mission. As children of top spies Gregorio Cortez (Antonio Banderas) and Ingrid (Carla Gugino) and grandchildren of Ingrid’s parents (Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor), there is a tradition to uphold. But rival spy kids Gary (Matthew O’Leary) and Gerti (Emily Osment) end up at the same destination as Carmen and Juni, on a far away island, where giant creatures are terrorising their creator Romero (Steve Buscemi). It is a race against time to find the Transmooger device which can destroy the world.

Review by Louise Keller:
James Bond for kids, Spy Kids 2 is an energetic, inventive and zappy adventure filled with colour, gadgets and larger than life characters. It’s a blast of a movie, that writer, director, producer, editor, production designer, cinematographer, re-recording mixer and composer Robert Rodriguez has devised and produced. What a calling card for this talented filmmaker, whose vision is such a fun and innovative one. So much so that just about anyone will enjoy it. 

The children stars behave like children acting out their wildest fantasies, and we are with them all the way. We can imagine ourselves at that age, pretending to pilot a transporter, or rescue a damsel in distress. You don’t need to have seen the original Spy Kids to enjoy this one, and we are quickly transported into this fun reality, where kids are kings and are in control of the coolest gadgets that even 007 himself would envy. 

Expect the unexpected – from Grandpa (Ricardo Montalban) in a wheelchair with wings, to Steve Buscemi’s wonderfully wacky mad scientist on the invisible island, whose vision has gone skew-wif. It’s witty, funny and never takes itself too seriously. Antonio Banderas manages to instil just the right amount of caricature into his spy dad character to bring some gravitas to the role. He makes the most of every moment and he is wonderfully entertaining to watch. Carla Gugino is lovely as spy mother, and there are some amusing moments with the uninvited grandparents, but it’s the kids who are the stars, and their interaction is refreshing. Shot on high-definition digital video, the colours are bright and sharp and absolutely conducive to this fast-paced fantasy adventure. I like the way the gadgets are used in the film – at first it’s like a showcase, but when the kids reach the Island, the gadgets don’t work, and they are forced to use their heads to solve problems. The production design emphasises clean, sharp lines and I love the bizarre hybrid animals on the island – from miniature to giant – cat fish, spider-monkeys, dragon-like serpents and even a pig that flies. Alex Vega and Daryl Sabara are great spy kids, and the Gerties (Matthew O’Leary and Emily Osment) add their own elements of charm, providing conflict and sibling rivalry. I’m sure it won’t be too long before there’s a Spy Kids 3 and who knows about the video game opportunities, soft toys and books that could follow. 

Special Features reviewed by Craig Miller

Even though there are a number of special features that will appeal to an adult audience, for the most part this extras package, like the film, is aimed fairly and squarely at the kiddies. And it is absolutely packed with them! Not kiddies, special features!

‘A new kind of stunt kid’ gives us a look at how the actors trained for their fight and dance sequences and everything else that required a little physical exertion. This, along with the other featurettes ‘School at Big Bend National Park’ and ‘Behind-the-scenes montages’, give great accounts of the young cast members’ experiences. Sure they are all a little on the short side, no not the kids, the featurettes, but younger audience members will still love to see more of the actors doing their own thing.

Also likely to appeal is ‘A day in the life of the Spy Kids’ which shows where the young actors live while filming, what they get up to between takes, and where they go to school.

For the adults, ‘Robert Rodriguez ten minute film school’ is a fascinating featurette explaining how a lot of the visual and special effects in the movie were achieved and really could have been twice as long and not as rushed. But it still holds a staggering amount of info. As does the commentary.

This riveting effort from Mr Rodriguez, in which he hardly stops talking to take a breath, is almost a ‘how to’ guide to putting together a film from the conceptual and writing stages through to editing, and is easily one of the best commentaries available. He certainly loves his work!

Rounding out this impressive package are stills and art galleries, trailers, music video, a fairly ho-hum deleted scenes package and a Q&A based game called ‘Transmooker Trouble’, where kids get to save the world by answering questions based on the movie.

Published October 23, 2003

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(US) - 2002

CAST: Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alex Vega, Daryl Sabara, Mike Judge, Ricardo Montalban, Holland Taylor, Cheech Marin, Steve Buscemi

DIRECTOR: Robert Rodriguez

SCRIPT: Robert Rodriguez

RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1.85:1 Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Robert Rodriguez ten minute film school, A new kind of stunt kid, Audio commentary with Robert Rodriguez, Lost scenes with director commentary, “Isle of Dreams” music video, School at Big Bend National Park, Essential gear – The gadgets of Spy Kids, Behind-the-scenes montages, Total Recess 24/7 – A day in the life of Spy Kids, Still Gallery, Art Gallery, Teaser Trailer, Game – Transmooker Trouble.

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: (Retail) 17th October 2003

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