Plot: What’s it about?
Gregorio Cortez (Antonio Banderas) and his wife Ingrid (Carla Gugino) used to be two of the best spies in the world, but now they’ve settle down. Once on opposite sides of the coin, now the two are married and even have two kids, Carmen and Juni. The bickering brother and sister have no idea about the past of their parents, but will soon discover the truth, after a most unusual series of events. It seems some of the world’s top agents have vanished and as such, Gregorio and Ingrid are called back into action, but soon enough, they end up captured by a madman from a children’s television show, Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming). Floop seeks to use the brains of the best spies to power his army of robot soldiers, which happen to look like kids. But Gregorio and Ingrid have a chance to escape, if their own children can carry on the family legacy and run a complex spy mission to free them. Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara) might not have experience, but they are determined to recover their parents, no matter what it takes.
This family aimed film from director Robert Rodriguez was a surprise success, taking in over one hundred million bucks and winning a substantial audience. Although this seems like a kids’ movie, a lot of parents were impressed also and as such, word of mouth hit the streets fast on Spy Kids. I found it to be a brisk, safe adventure flick, with much better production values than most family films and in addition, it was a lot of fun to watch. The action scenes are well made and Rodriguez’ usual touch is present, which means it all pans out quite well. Some of the computer effects stand out as poorly done, but on the whole, I felt the stunts and special effects were more than solid, given the nature of the picture. In other words, I couldn’t wait for Spy Kids to hit DVD and of course, now it has. But as there is bound to be a special edition of Spy Kids down the road, I think you should decide if a rental will suffice for now, or if this is a title you’ll want to own. I know I will be holding on to this disc until that new release, but if you’re a patient person, I recommend renting here and purchasing the eventual special edition when it arrives.
Although he is best known for his more violent films, director Robert Rodriguez takes a more family friendly tone here, with terrific results. I think the main reason Spy Kids works so well is that Rodriguez knows action, whether with blazing guns or insane gadgets. So his usual trademarks and touches are all seen here, but in a different form and in truth, I think it all works out very well, as the action sequences here are very impressive. It had to be harder to work with child leads, but it still looks pretty good, even though some obvious tricks were used from time to time, to enhance the visual impact of the stunts. Other films directed by Rodriguez include From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, Roadracers, El Mariachi, The Faculty, and Desperado. The cast here includes Antonio Banderas (The Mask of Zorro, Four Rooms), Alan Cumming (Spice World, Josie and The Pussycats), and Carla Gugino (Snake Eyes, Son in Law).
Video: How does it look?
Spy Kids is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As this is a very visual film, the transfer needed to be top notch and thankfully, Dimension has supplied a terrific looking effort here. The movie’s intense color scheme is well presented, via lush and vivid hues, but no signs of bleeds or smears can be found. I saw no flaws with contrast either, as black levels were rich and always on the mark. A few small instances of edge enhancement aside, this is one excellent visual presentation that should please viewers of all ages.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is one of better audio mixes I have heard of late, with a lot of complexity, dynamic range, and of course, subtle details. The power kicks in when it needs to and you’ll know when it does, as the surrounds kick in to effective ends. A lot of intricate use is involved, from awesome sweeps and pans to excellent rear channel presence, this is one out of this world audio mix. The dialogue remains clean and easy to understand however, with no real flaws to report. In short, I was highly impressed with this Dolby Digital 5.1 option and since it performs at high levels throughout, I think it deserves a very high score, though not quite perfect. This disc also includes Spanish and French language tracks, as well as English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical and teaser trailers.