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Featured DVD Review: Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

November 21st, 2011

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World - Buy from Amazon: DVD or 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack

I recently reviewed the Spy Kids trilogy when they were released on Blu-ray. I liked the first two films, but thought the third film was merely average. The decline in quality was a troubling sign for Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, but one can always hope the franchise could bounce back to its original glory. Is that the case here? Or should they have not tried to restart a tired premise?

The Movie

While the film takes place in the same movie universe, it switches focus to a new family, led by Marissa Cortez Wilson. The film begins with her leading a mission to catch Tick Tock, who was in possession of a stolen OSS data disc. When her team is hit with a time bomb (it's a bomb that stops time), she has to jump into action. The trouble is, she's really pregnant. In fact, she goes into labor as a result of the action, but at least she gets her man. However, this was her last mission before settling down to be a new mother with her new infant daughter, as well as her step-kids, Rebecca and Cecil. And she can never let the kids, or her husband, Wilbur Wilson, know she was ever a spy.

A year later and Marissa's still able to keep her spy past hidden, even though her husband is the star of Spy Hunter, a reality TV series. (Although this isn't saying much, as he's never caught a spy.) That's really the only part of family life that's going really well. After two years of marriage, Rebecca still treats her as the evil step-mother. Marissa tries to connect with Rebecca by giving her a necklace that has been in her family for years, but while it seems to work, momentarily, Marissa is then caught in one of Rebecca's many, many pranks and they are back to square one. Marissa doesn't have time to dwell on that, because news breaks of a new threat, The Time Keeper, who is speeding up time. If they don't stop him soon, time will run out. Her old boss, Danger D'Amo, calls her in for one more mission. At first she just needs to return the Chronos Sapphire, which is the key to stopping the Time Keeper. It is also the necklace she just gave to Rebecca.

Marissa rushes off to her old work, but first tells the dog, Argonaut, to look after the kids. It isn't until she gets to work that she learns Rebecca pranked her and still has the Chronos Sapphire. It's not a big deal according to Danger D'Amo. If Marissa can catch Tick Tock, that will lead them to the Time Keeper and they won't need the sapphire. And don't worry about Rebecca and Cecil. They will be safe.

He's wrong about that. Immediately a squad attacks the Wilson home and warning sirens go off instructing Rebecca and Cecil to go to the panic room. Once there, they see a pre-recorded message from Marissa explaining that she is a spy and that their dog, Argonaut, is a robot designed to protect them. Once they arrive at OSS, they are met by Carmen Cortez. They are told to go to the agent lounge and just stay there. Turns out they are about as good at listening to orders as Carmen and Juni were and soon they are right in the middle of the spy mission.

That's probably the best part of the movie to end the plot summary, as the details tend to get really spoilerish. Although a lot of the spoilers are predictable, in more ways that one. Firstly, the film feels like a remake of Spy Kids rather than a sequel. I know it was important to connect this film to its predecessors, but the filmmakers went overboard here. For instance, when Tick Tock's men attacked the Wilson home, it was way too similar to when Floop's men attacked Carmen and Juni. The fact that the head of the OSS was the bad guy, which was the least surprising twist in the movie, was borrowed from the second film. I was dismayed by the lack of originality in the film. Even the action scenes had a strong sense of Déjà vu.

I did like Rowen Blanchard and Mason Cook as the two kids and they handle themselves well when compared to Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara from the first film. Not all of the adults fair quite as well in this comparison. The parents just don't have the screen presence Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino did. Ricky Gervais is sometimes the funniest part of the movie, but other times it feels like he's phoning it in. Then again, with some of the lines he is given, I don't blame him. The number of fart jokes and time puns are excessive. And while the message in the movie is commendable, it is hammered home over and over and over again. If it were more subtle, it would have been more effective.

Overall Spy Kids: All the Time in the World just feels like a pale imitation of the original movie. On the other hand, if you are about the same age as Rowen Blanchard and Mason Cook were in the movie (10 years old) then the film should entertain. But even then, there are better options.

The Extras

Extras start with eight minutes of deleted scenes. Robert Rodriguez sits down for a seven-minute interview with a kid reporter. There is an eight-minute featurette on Passing the Torch from Alexa and Darrly to Rowan and Mason. Rowan and Mason are also the focus of the behind-the-scenes video diary. Argonaut is the focus of two four-minute featurettes. The first, How to Make a Robotic Dog is on the dog actor, Elmo, while the second is on Ricky Gervais, who provides the voice. Finally, there is a four-minute featurette on the gadgets. Overall there are forty minutes of extras, which isn't bad.

I don't have the Blu-ray to review, so I don't know if there are any exclusive extras nor could I go over the technical specs, but it does come with the 3D Blu-ray, regular Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy, so it is a good deal in comparison.

The Verdict

If you really liked all three of the previous Spy Kids movies, then you will probably enjoy Spy Kids: All the Time in the World enough that it is worth watching. However, if you only liked the first two and thought the third was weak, you can safely give this one a pass. If you have kids that were born around the same time the first movie came out, then this film should entertain them and you should give it a rental. If you are intent on buying, then the 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack is the better deal over the DVD.

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