|as|| Title: Spy Kids |
Presented in 1080P AVC CODEC @ 24.3Mbps VBR
DTS-MA 5.1 Audio, DD 5.1 Lossy Spanish
Distributed by Lionsgate
Growing up as a kid with my family, my first introduction to movies was what I would call: family adventure. These were films where a family, or a set of adults and kids would have a big adventure. Disney would run a lot of them whether they were Disney Presents or at the theater. The concept always varied.
Whether it was “The Black Hole” where a family finds themselves on a space station, the Apple Dumpling Gang, where a group of adults and kids become a family, or westerns. The concept was simple: a family has trouble, a family faces the trouble together, and the family grows closer together.
It was a staple of a lot of Disney TV Movie storytelling. It’s a simple storyline, but when it’s done well, it’s a lot like comfort food – it makes you feel good while you’re watching. I first saw “Spy Kids” on DVD actually, at home with our first son who was just the right age at the time. We then saw Spy Kids 2 in the theater. But as I watched the film with him, I watched him cheer and laugh and I thought: this is a great kids movie.
Spy Kids is a movie with a ton of great action, fun characters and a really positive family message. How often do you get that? For parents of younger kids, it’s the kind of film that fulfills that action adventure that kids have without ever having a message that will get you concerned.
The story is fairly straightforward; retired spies leave the life to become parents to children, deciding that their love for each other and family was more important than their life as spies. Set in what comes across as Brazil – though quite a bit of filming was apparently in Chile and Texas – the movie is full of great family moments. Kids who may fight but also find they care about each other. As they race around to try and save their captured parents, they learn lessons about family, forgiveness, perseverance, danger, risk, love and hope. The first time I watched Spy Kids, I turned to my wife and said: this may be one of the most wholesome action adventure movies I’ve ever seen, and yet, I’d watch it repeatedly for how well done it is.
Done on a shoestring budget, the effects, crafted by Rodriguez are incredibly inventive, original and fun. His devotion to doing a real effects film on a limited budget turned this into I think a far better film then it could have been, because the tight budget led to innovative FUN special effects that have survived the years well. But it also meant that the story as a whole had to work, it had to be accessible to everyone who watched it.
There are a lot of films I watched with my kids when they were little I have almost no desire to revisit. But Spy Kids is one of those films that even as an adult, I found myself cracking a smile, laughing along and rooting for the characters. It has all the best elements of a great spy film and such a great cast to find yourself rooting for.
In rewatching the film, I was reminded of several spy adenture films I’ve seen over the last few years, and how they’ve either failed or succeeded. And I have to tell you, even compared to several of the adult spy adventure films, the action and excitement in Spy Kids is both more original and more effective. Sorry to films like “The Tourist” but the story and enjoyment factor in something like “Spy Kids” puts it as just a better spy film, not just a family friendly spy film, but a better scripted spy film.
The Video: 4.5 / 5
I was very concerned about how this would come off on Bluray. Because this film was made very cheaply, I had worried that the special effects would show quite a bit of wear and they would hurt the ability to appreciate this film. I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised. While they do show their age, like all films 11 years old would, they look far better than I expected. The picture quality for the sets is clean, crisp and the color pallet is as brilliant and bright.
The film does have scenes, especially those with CGI inserts where Edge Enhancement is definitely noticeable. While I would normally take this more seriously, I got the feeling from watching it through that it may have been the means by which to help the CGI fit in at a higher resolution. While noticeable, it didn’t have nearly the negative impact it could have, and I found the transfer
to be far better than I expected.
The Audio 5 / 5
I have always said I judge the audio quality not about the “BOOM” or “effect” standard, but by how well it compliments the film and draws me in. The audio use in Spy Kids will become a reference title for me. The effects are incredibly well done, with audio moving across and diagonal through the room, a soundfield where crashes can rip from in front to behind and reverse, and where the dialog remains crisp and clean at all times. This is exactly why I buy bluray. The mix is VERY good. Whispers are intelligible but clearly designed to be in low tones, effects are well done, and the score is fantastically presented.
This is a GREAT DTS-MA Audio track, and it is a LOAD of fun.
The Extras 3.5 / 5
The extras are a bit on the slim side, but what is there is quite good.
Growing Up Spy Kids (48:10) presented in 1080P – this is a great documentary that doesn’t just focus on the kids, but how the director and crew “grew up” through the development of the films, flashes back to Rodriguez childhood, why they loved the project and how they handled on set.
10 Minute Film School: Special Effects (8:06) – I find it funny that both ten minute film schools on this are not ten minutes. But it’s just a title. This extra talks about assembling the special effects on a limited budget, and includes some great moments, including Rodriguez getting bit by a shark and how they filmed the sets in Chile, and why they chose a South American setting.
10 Minute Film School – 6:04 – Grilled Cheese & Smoothies. This should be a MUST watch. Let me just say, and I may be the most horrible person in the world but she’s over 18 now.. HOLY COW. It’s like Meadow Soprano going on there.. ? Besides that, the piece is funny, cute and some of the cutaways are damn funny as actors and Rodriguez work on their cooking skills.
Stunt Work 6:48 480I – A look at the wire work as done in the film.
Special Effects 7:03 480I – A look at the special effect CGI work done in the film.
Also included are the theatrical trailer in 480I, a teaser, and a 10 minute trailer roll, which also includes the new Spy Kids 4 trailer.
There are a lot of Kids movies that just don't hold up over time. They lose their ability to really impress, they become dated, or they just stop really being fun. Rodriguez has truly put together an amazing work in "Spy Kids" because it not only holds it's own, it shows that if you do something right, the reward is a treasure. It's funny that in the last few years we've had duds like "G-Force" and "Cody Banks" and you see something with the wide eyed wonder and fun that went into "Spy Kids" and you have to think: this is a director who really loved what he was doing and made a film with a great script with great kids.
What helps this film is that the product is so good that it not only brought me back to what I enjoyed about the film, it showed that despite my worries it aged very well.
I have no problem saying that Spy Kids is a solid "RECOMMEND". If you have kids especially those in that 8-14 window, this is a great family oriented action film that will keep the parents attention, get some laughs and never one will you worry about it being inappropriate. What's funny is that normally you combine those things and it's bland and forgettable. Here, it really works as a heck of a lot of fun.
The extras on this disc, while not a lot are a blast, and some of the few extras that I would sit and watch again just because they are well done and also contain that same whimsy the film has.
Put this one on your shopping list.
(as with all content that uses stills, these are only to demonstrate the view of the film, and are not fully representative of how they will show on your display.)
Review Equipment Used:
Oppo BD-83, HTPC w/ArcSoft TMT5
Samsung 52" LED 1080P Display