Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The OSS now has a full child spy section and Carmen Cortez and Juni Cortez have become agents of the OSS and face particularly hard competition with Gary and Gerti Giggles (Matt O’Leary and Emily Osment), the children of double-dealing agent Donnagon Giggles (Mike Judge), whom Carmen and Juni helped to rescue in the previous film. It is shown that Carmen defends Gary and has a crush on him.

After an incident at a local amusement park, where the President’s daughter (Taylor Momsen) deliberately sabotages a thrill ride which juggles its passengers, forcing the Giggles and the Cortez kids to compete in the rescue, Donnagon — who has somehow hacked into the teleprompter which the President was reading from — is named the director of the OSS; while Juni is fired after being framed by Gary — who was actually to blame — into losing the “Transmooker”, a highly coveted device which can shut off all electronic devices. In his new position as director, Donnagon can carry on with his plan to steal the Transmooker, so he can rule the world.

After Carmen manages to hack into the database and reinstates Juni’s level as an agent, she and Juni follow the trail to a mysterious island near Madagascar, which is home to Romero (Steve Buscemi), a lunatic scientist. Romero has been attempting to create genetically-miniaturized animals, so he can make a profit by selling the animals to kids in “miniature zoos”. He had an experiment go wrong after accidentally pouring growth concoction onto the mutated set of animals. When Carmen is captured by a Spork, which is quite literally a flying pig, she meets Gerti there who tells her that Gary is really evil and Carmen changes her feelings for Gary and sides with Juni who was going to be hurt by Gary. After a number of action sequences, such as fighting skeletons and being captured by Sporks, the spy kids — along with the help of their family, Romero and Gerti Giggles — destroy the Transmooker and defeat Donnagon and Gary but Gregorio and Donnagon fight each other. Donnagon is relieved by the President and Gary is disavowed, while Juni quits due to the impersonal treatment of agents by the OSS. During the credits, Machete has Carmen sing as an undercover pop star in a concert. Carmen says she can’t sing so Machete gives her a mic which auto-tunes her voice and a belt that helps her dance. He also gives Juni a guitar that plays itself. After the performance, Machete informs Carmen that he had not put the batteries in and Carmen was actually singing.

REVIEW:

Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams has been on my mind ever since I saw the original Spy Kids, but I’ve been waiting for it to hit the streaming queue, rather than waste a slot in my DVD list. Was the wait worth it? Should I have used that slot?

What is this about?

In this sequel to the hit sci-fi family adventure, spy kids Carmen and Juni Cortez team up with two other pint-sized secret agents, Gary and Gerti Giggles. The foursome travels to a mysterious island to save the world from an evil scientist

What did I like?

Keep it going. You have to give it to Robert Rodriguez. The guy has vision. In a time when most filmmakers shy away from putting children in franchise films, this guy started one that could go on long after they grew up. Age has made our pint-size stars better equipped as spies, which only helps things in the long run.

Creatures. There is no secret about how much affection I have for stop motion animation and my disdain for CG. While this film uses CG a bit more than it should, I recognize that they were at least honoring the great Ray Herryhausen with the creatures. There are a couple of scenes that I could have sworn were straight out of one of the Sinbad films. I’m still no fan of CG, but at least they were trying to honor the past, something that doesn’t happen very often.

Who. You would never guess it by looking at her, but the cute little girl who plays the President’s daughter is Taylor Momsen. The only other thing I’ve seen her in is The Grinch with Jim Carey, where she plays Cindy Lou Who. In both instances, she flexes some acting chops far beyond what she should have at her age. I wonder what happened to her that made her go from this to that racoon looking mess she is today?

What didn’t I like?

Effects. The CG laden effects here are geared toward younger audiences, that much is obvious, but it does seem as if they didn’t even try to get them to fit in with the surrounding. It was like they just inserted them in at the last-minute and did just enough touch up so that they didn’t look totally rough around the edges. For a major studio release like this, I feel a higher level of care should have been taken, but that’s just me.

Abuelos. Bringing in the grandparents, who were apparently spies in their time, didn’t really seem to work out as well as I think they would have liked. With that said, I think they just needed to be developed a bit more before being thrust into the story in the last third of the film. From what I hear, though, they go on to be pretty major players in subsequent films.

Rivalry. I have no problem with another brother sister spy team. It keeps out heroes on their toes. After all, rivalry is good. However, I do have issue with them not being a real threat. To me, it seemed as if they would have worked better as some sort of evil force, like their father, rather than just friendly rivals.

For what it is, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams delivers a big, colorful film that will keep kids entertained. There are a few things here and there for the adults to enjoy, as well. I really liked this film, but one thing that bothered me is how there was a lack of dreams on the island. Why is it called the island of lost dreams? This is definitely worth checking out if for no other reason than to tell me what I missed!

4 out of 5 stars

 

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