Robert Rodriguez is one of those young directors greatly influenced by the old movies on the racks at Blockbuster. We see those influences in his latest movie, "Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams."
Director Rodriguez (right) pays homage in 'Spy Kids 2' to films that have influenced him. (Miramax)
This is the sequel to the first "Spy Kids" movie that introduced Carmen and Juni Cortez, a brother and sister who discover that their parents are spies and set off to rescue them from the clutches of a not-so-evil genius named Floop.
In the sequel, these "spy kids" have become part of the spy organization (OSS) that employs their parents, Ingrid and Gregorio. The kids now find themselves competing with others for assignments. Chief among Juni and Carmen's rivals are Gary and Gerti Giggles. Their father is named head of the OSS, and Gary and Gerti are given the plum assignments.
The opening sequence takes place in a Texas theme park, where Carmen and Juni rescue the president's daughter, but Gary and Gerti walk away with the credit. The president's daughter has taken a smaller version of a device known as the Transmooger; the larger Transmooger has the power to destroy the world.
Who will go to the island of Dr. Romero and turn off the power of the larger Transmooger to save the planet? That's the focus of "Spy Kids 2."
Rodriguez has created a universe full of gadgets and weird creatures. Carmen and Juni's Uncle Machette is an inventor who provides them with the necessary equipment to accomplish their mission. He is a Hispanic version of James Bond's Q, which brings up one of the positives about this series: We see folks other than white people in key roles. Carmen and Juni are Hispanic, and that is not played down.
As mentioned above, Rodriquez pays homage to those directors and movies that have influenced him. We see Ray Harryhausen in the creatures; "The Wizard of Oz" in the character of Romero; and references to "Spider-Man."
Rodriquez ably blends in many images from his favorite movies, consequently making his own movie interesting to older viewers. This will allow parents to discuss the referenced movies with their children; and part of the importance of movies is sharing those movies that have impacted you with younger people.
"Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams" is a movie for kids of all ages. It also proves there is no sophomore jinx for the franchise, making it safe to say that there will be more "Spy Kids" in the future.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Burgaw Baptist Church in Burgaw, N.C.
MPAA Rating: PG for action sequences and brief rude humor
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Gregorio Cortez: Antonio Banderas; Ingrid Cortez: Carla Gugino; Carmen Cortez: Alexa Vega; Juni Cortez: Daryl Sabara; Romero: Steve Buscemi; Machete: Danny Trejo; Felix Gumm: Cheech Marin