Whether or not films with blazing guns or rivers of blood cause youngsters to stop arguing with their parents and annihilate them instead, violence has certainly affected director Robert Rodriguez. Now a family man himself, the film maker who let blood wash across the screen in "El Mariachi", "Desperado", and "From Dusk Till Dawn" has now opted to make a film which has no chance at all of turning his own kids into psycho-killers.
Like a modern, high-tech version of the Famous Five (except there are only two youngsters in this film), "Spy Kids" keeps the fantasy element of children's adventures intact, and so the dweeby, bullied kid emerges as a real hero. This he is able to achieve through becoming - along with his sister - a super-able spy. Having been told endless bedtime stories by their parents about two adult spies, they are transformed into all-action, ultra-athletic good guys when their folks get into trouble. Inevitably, as imaginative madman Floop (Alan Cumming) tightens the noose, the family becomes ever closer and their values are held up high.
In a jolly, amiable outing which demands little of the actors (although the children's keenness and innocence are usually enough), gadgets and action are the movie's main thrust. While spy-watches, the world's smallest camera, electro-shock bubblegum, and a submarine that resembles a fish are welcome enough distractions, the action itself - despite some bright, funny moments - is often quite ordinary. In a film of this sort, magic is usually created by a number of super, soaraway sequences whose originality and dazzle result in all children (including Rodriguez's own) leaving the cinema in a happy, smiley trance. Sadly, that doesn't happen here.
Read an interview with actor Antonio Banderas and watch video footage of the London "Spy Kids" premiere.
Visit the official site.