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Featured Blu-ray Review: The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl

November 7th, 2011

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

I have seen every single movie Robert Rodriguez has directed except three: Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World, From Dusk Till Dawn, and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. Amazingly, I will be reviewing all three movies this month, starting with the The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.

The Movie

The film begins with a voiceover telling us the origins of Sharkboy. His father was a marine biologist and they lived on a floating laboratory in the sea, where they studied great white sharks. His father gave him the nickname Sharkboy, because he loved feeding the sharks. One day, a storm destroyed the laboratory and Sharkboy and his father were separated. The sharks remembered Sharkboy being good to them, so they took care of Sharkboy and raised them as one of their own. He spends so much time with the sharks, that he mutates to look like a shark. One day, Max (Cayden Boyd) catches Sharkboy, while fishing, and sneaks him into his house, while his mom and dad are fighting. Sharkboy has spent years looking for his father and thinks he's on the Planet Drool. One day, while Sharkboy is talking about this, the pair are visited by Lavagirl. She tells Sharkboy that they have to go to Planet Drool to prevent a crisis. They invite Max, but he has school the next day.

This opening turns out to be a story Max is telling his class during his first day of grade four, but he tells it like it really happened. His classmates taunt him for believing the story. Everyone in his class taunts him, except Marissa Electricidad (Sasha Pieterse), who is interested in hearing more. Linus, the classroom bully, makes fun of Max during his story, which does get him in trouble with their teacher, Mr. Electricidad. Mr. Electricidad tells Max and Linus that they have to try and be best friends, because they can't keep fighting. He also tells Max he has to live in the real world and not in his daydreams anymore. The "be best of friends" doesn't pan out, as Linus and a few of his fellow bullies chase Max through the playground and steal his dream journal.

That night, Sharkboy and Lavagirl visit him, although that only gets him in trouble when they eat the cookies he was supposed to take to school with him the next day. The second day of school is worse than the first and as things spiral downward, Sharkboy and Lavagirl show up and tell Max he has to go with them to save Planet Drool. He just wishes they were figments of his imagination, but when they don't go away, they take him to their space ship and they blast off to Planet Drool. Once on Planet Drool, Max learns it's dying. Lavagirl thinks he is the key to saving the planet, while Sharkboy is not so sure. The three of them have to rush to train of thought, to the stream of consciousness, to the sea of confusion, to find a way to stop the darkness. Along the way, they run into characters from the real world: Mr. Electric, Minus, The Ice Princess, etc.

As I've already said, I've seen nearly every film Robert Rodriguez has directed and for the most part they've been excellent, even his kids movies. He excels at creating wonderfully imaginative worlds, but this can become a problem when the visual overtakes the heart of the story. This is certainly the case with this movie. The film is about a boy who keeps being told he has to be more realistic and stop letting his dreams get in the way. Ironically, Robert Rodriguez needed to follow this advice. The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl is filled with imagination, but the characters and the plot are just not engaging. It needed less imagination and a more grounded story. Likewise, it has plenty of imagination in its visual effects, but instead of generating a sense of wonder, it just looks like a mess. Finally, the film was shot in 3-D, and you can tell. It's filled with gimmicky shots of things floating past the screen, but it is all style and no substance.

I think it might still entertain younger kids, but even tweens will be uninterested.

The Extras

Robert Rodriguez sits down for an audio commentary track, while there is also an eight-minute featurette on how his seven-year old son wrote the story, but there are no new extras for this Blu-ray. The movie is only presented in 2-D, but at least the video is very strong with excellent details, very strong colors and deep blacks. The film had a relatively low budget, especially when you consider the huge amount of special effects, so sometimes the CG doesn't have much detail and sometimes the blending between the live action and the computer effects stand out too much, but you can hardly blame the video transfer for these issues. The audio is equally strong with clear dialogue, plenty of directional effects and an active bass. The Blu-ray does only cost $12 on, which is an acceptable price for this type of release.

The Verdict

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl is a movie about letting your imagination run wild, but it was in desperate need of a re-write or two to create a story that's a lot more grounded. The Blu-ray is shovelware, but the technical presentation and the price are good, if you are a fan of the movie.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D