Here’s another case where compartmentalization is key. In My Rating Scale I try and stress that I am grading each and every film on what it is and not against every other film in the world. Meaning, I will not downgrade a film simply because I cannot live in a world where both See no Evil, Hear No Evil and Touch of Evil have the same score. In fact, I live in world where they do. I think they’re both brilliant in their own way. Which is just another way to introduce the fact that I will rate a Spy Kids film (or a Rodriguez family film) as such and not against El Mariachi or other films in this genre.
Having said that I do like this film. It’s not better than the first but it’s better than the third at the very least. There is in its circularity a cohesion to the narrative that one might not necessarily appreciate through the CG and 3D. Not to say that there’s any subtlety here but the theme seems more unified and more parallel than it has in most other installments it just doesn’t always seem like it is.
Reboots can be a tricky thing. Whether you’re just restarting a story with new characters or re-casting those characters you’re finding new actors to fit the archetypes that have made the franchise work. The most resoundingly successful aspect of this Spy Kids film is the new kids in the persons of Mason Cook and Rowan Blanchard. While they each show some echoes of their predecessors they have characters and abilities uniquely their own. Cook has a quiet depth and Blanchard an unpretentious spunkiness that make this new tandem a worthy rival of Vega and Sabara who themselves have very humorous and effective supporting roles in the film. Also, very entertaining in this film is Jeremy Piven whose interpretation is as funny as it is wild and he becomes a rather memorable villain in the series because of it.
One note of warning to send out there those that are not fans of potty humor best stay away from this film as it is most definitely the more pronounced in this film than ever. As a whole the story is enjoyable and moves quickly except for those parts where it circles around the drain, so to speak, before making that final connection. One piece of that puzzle is kind of apparent at the very beginning but I think even if you do get ahead of it it’s not likely to ruin it.
The effects work is somewhat stepped up here and holds up better to the 3D than the previous edition did. This is where most of the creativity in the film shines through.
While I will defend Robert Rodriguez in principle as it is his right, much as William Castle saw it as his duty, to create a fun gimmick to promote his film, the fact of the matter is the Aroma-Scope just does not work. I saw the movie twice at two completely separate theatres. The cards all have a unified odor and it’s hard to get those squares to smell like something different and when they do they rarely smell like what they’re supposed to be. However, that only detracts from the film minutely. Even if the smells were brilliantly accurate it’s still distracting you from the film (you look down, find the number, scratch and sniff). So no real damage done there.
Overall, I think that this film will definitely win over fans of the series, myself being one of them I was more than a bit skeptical when I first heard about it and I think that it will also create many new fans in its target audience. Moreover, I think that it ends on a note where growth of the story and the franchise is yearned for and not a place where you think potential has been maximized. Should the new generation continue it will do so in stronger films.