Known for directing cheap over-the-top violent action movies, film director/producer/writer/composer/editor/cinematographer, Robert Rodriguez (Mexico Trilogy, From Dusk Til’ Dawn, Sin City) directed a film unlike his signature ones that appeal to mature audiences, is a family film known as “Spy Kids.”
Spy Kids was released in 2001. (same year Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone came out) It received positive reviews from both critics and audiences alike. It also made enough cash at the box office.
Spy Kids spawned three sequels released in 2002, 2003 and 2011. Rodriguez went on to make other family oriented movies like Sharkboy & Lavagirl so that his children can watch them.
They’re are two reasons why I’ve decided to post this article. Good News, Rodriguez is teaming up with James Cameron to turn a manga series called “Alita: Battle Angel” into a live action film. Bad News, Netflix confirmed that they’re gonna release a computer animated television series this Friday. I would like to share what’s good or bad about the first entry to the Spy Kids series.
Positive & Negative Elements
This review is a NON-SPOILER article. If you never ever ever seen Spy Kids, feel free to read it. Does Rodriguez’s first family oriented movie holds up? Let’s begin shall we?
Positive: Alexa Vega & Daryl Sabara both did a good job on their performances.
Other Cast Members including Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Danny Trejo, (Rodriguez’ good luck charm) Alan Cumming, Robert Patrick, Mike Judge, Tony Shalhoub Teri Hatcher & Cheech Marin all did a good job on their performances.
A few Action Sequences were solid.
Spy Kids marks the first appearance of Danny Trejo’s character, Machete. I’m not gonna lie, Spy Kids is connected to Grindhouse, which means the films of Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino are canon to a kids movie! Now that’s what I call a cross-generation for both kids and adults! I’m giving both Rodriguez & Tarantino a bunch of Extra Points for making a ballsy decision to include a character from kids movie into a hard R film! This is way before Wolverine & Deadpool both earn their separate R rated critically acclaimed movie.
Before the movie starts, the mascot from Troublemaker Studios appears. By the way, the company is owned by Rodriguez.
In a flashback, we learn how Carmen & Juni’s parents, Gregorio & Ingrid first met.
Robert Rodriguez did an ok job on directing, producing, writing, editing and composing music.
Fun Fact: This is the last film Rodriguez shot in film before George Lucas encouraged him to direct shoot his other films digitally.
Rodriguez enlisted veteran composers, Danny Elfman, Harry Gregson-Williams (Metal Gear Solid franchise, Shrek series) & Los Lobos to co-write music with him.
When I listened to “Oy Como Spy,” it reminded me of Wonder Woman’s instrumental theme from Batman Vs. Superman and her solo film. I have no choice but to give Rodriguez, Elfman, Gregson-Williams & Los Lobos an Additional Point for inspiring Wonder Woman’s instrumental theme.
Cinematography doesn’t contain any technical difficulties.
Character Development involving both Carmen & Juni as they must work together and put their differences aside, if they want to rescue their parents.
One important character also earns himself a big amount of Character Development.
Juni’s middle name is named after Rodriguez’ children.
Gadgets are goofy but they actually come in handy.
My favorite line involves a character who mentioned “shiitake mushrooms.” It made me laugh painfully hard, I’m totally giving this line Bonus Points!
George Clooney makes a cameo appearance.
I’ll give the first film credit for encouraging Cartoon Network to green-lot Codename Kids Next Door as one of the channel’s famous cartoons.
Negative: Special Effects haven’t age well. Let’s face it, Rodriguez is known for his notorious cheap tactics to cut down expenses on a film budget. This is why big name directors like Christopher Nolan & Quentin Tarantino refuse to use a boatload of C.G.I. into their pictures, or else the illusion starts to wear off.
Without giving too much away, The Extras never batted an eye on two Action Sequences located in a clothing store and playground. Is every single extra in this movie like Stevie Wonder, due to their inability to see what the heck going on? Imagine if Commissioner Gordon & The Gotham City Police Department (GCPD for short) not caring about the people of Gotham and not lighting up The Bat Signal to call Batman for help?
Product Placement features a few brands such as McDonald’s, Hi-C. I’ll give this flaw a pass, because I couldn’t find any other brand to shove down my throat. It would’ve been funny if Rodriguez added a Big Kahuna Burger from Quentin’s made up brands in his films.
The Final Verdict: B, FOR BRIGHT & COLORFUL!
Spy Kids is one of Rodriguez best films and I have to admit, Spy Kids is the movie that introduced me to the works of Robert Rodriguez. If you’re kids never the first entry, I highly recommend it for you and your family.