Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Movie review

I 'Spy' with my bleary eye . . .

Published July 28, 2003


Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over

Rating: PG

Summary: The evil Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone) has created an interactive video game, in which its adolescent players "virtually" enter the game environment, and it's about to hit the stores internationally. Beware, because it's just a setup to gain control of the minds of every kid in the world when they are unable to beat the unbeatable 5th level and get a "game over." Carmen and Juni Cortez (Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara), those famous kid spies, have gone their separate ways. Juni has retired, but Carmen is still active in the O.S.S. When Carmen is put on assignment to enter the game and try to stop Toymaker, she is captured in the fourth level. Juni is recalled into service to rescue his sister and shut down the game before all the innocent kids of the world access it.

My view: Spy Kids movies are popping out every year now, and it was obvious that a new gimmick was needed to keep the concept fresh. What was their big idea? 3-D glasses, which have been around forever. When a character enters the video game setting, the audience is brought into the action by a cue at the bottom of the screen - "GLASSES ON." (Alan Cumming, who played the villain, Floop, in the first Spy Kids, explains all this at the beginning of the film.) This gives the video game setting a somewhat realistic appearance with things popping out at you all over the place; kids will love it! The glasses do wear on your eyes after awhile, and they also distort the colors on screen (since one lens is red, the other blue). If this film was much longer than its short 85 minutes, I may have had to make a trip to the concession stand in search of aspirin!

Sly was great as the Toymaker and the three versions of his subconscious self. We haven't seen much of him on the big screen lately, so it was fun to see him again, playing a different character than we're used to. (Guess he's getting too old to play those action roles anyway.) The Cortez parents (Carla Gugino and Antonio Banderas) and all of the other familiar characters played minimal parts in this film, which is another change from the previous two; even Vega's role was smaller. Grandpa (Ricardo Montalban) was featured more prominently, and we also get George Clooney as the president of the United States, although his funniest line doesn't show up until the clips shown at the end of the movie. Stick around.

The family values are there, and so are the crazy gadgets, but the kids are growing older, along with the novelty of the premise, so it's about time for them all to retire. If they decide to release any more, they should to go straight to DVD and VHS.

Recommendations: Fans of the first two will be happy with this installment, but that's about all.

Grade: C+

- Billy Norris, 15, will be in the 10th grade at Seminole High School, and is a former member of the Times' X-Team.

[Last modified July 25, 2003, 12:52:07]

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