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Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams
Rating: PG
Release Date: February 11, 2003
Ten-second Rundown: Carmen and Juni return to battle rival Spy Kids, Ray Harryhausen rejects and…Hank Hill?


  • Director's Commentary by Robert Rodriguez
  • Deleted scenes with commentary by Rodriguez
  • "Isle of Dreams" music video
  • Robert Rodriguez' "Ten Minute Film School
  • Stills and art gallery
  • "Transmooker Trouble" set top game
  • previews of upcoming Disney projects

    Tech Specs: Widescreen anamorphic, aspect ratio 1.66:1, Dolby stereo, close-captioned

    Anybody who has read this site for a while knows that we have a healthy respect for Robert Rodriguez, and the Spy Kids franchise in particular. Film writer Jordan Rosa already raved about the second installment in his review last summer.

    Rodriguez has an almost unique ability to bring his personal vision to the screen. It helps when you serve as your own writer, director, editor, production designer, effects guru, and even music composer. If you're a fan, too, the DVD of Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams is a double-treat.

    Not only does the disc boast a good (admittedly, not fantastic) transfer of the film, but it's loaded with a balance of extras for the kids and for the budding filmmaker. Even if the film doesn't quite float your boat, Rodriguez has a lot of useful advice about how to make your own movie without big studio backing. (Though Spy Kids 2 did have studio backing, he still pulled it off for less than the cost of the first film, and under $40 million -- at his own request.)

    The director/polymorph claims, in fact, that this film was the most fun he'd had since El Mariachi, his infamous $7,000 debut.

    For me, this is the first director commentary that I've ever listened to that I want to sit through again. A whirlwind, Rodriguez hardly pauses for a breath in his eagerness to talk about his film. He does, however, pause the commentary track (not that you'd notice) in order to find some sound clips of early stages of his music.

    What makes it so interesting is that he's not so interested in telling you about his creation as he is how you might unlock your own creativity. Sure, he has to offer examples from his own life, but listening to this lecture (and it is more lecture than commentary), a lot of advice hits home.

    Through the process of trying to create this series from a kid's point of view, Rodriguez learned to stop himself from stopping himself. In the most cogent example, he points out that if you ask a kid to compose an opera, she won't tell you that she can't. Instead, she'll just go ahead and compose an opera. (Whether it's any good or not is beside the point.) And so, Rodriguez became a composer.

    The key is a willingness to be creative. Learning how to edit, to design, etc., ends up playing second fiddle, as long as you're willing to do whatever the task is. Rodriguez makes a pretty good case for doing it yourself, too, which probably annoys a lot of studios.

    As a supplement, he includes a video feature, the Ten Minute Film School. (Is this de rigeur for his discs?) That feature underscores a lot of the points he makes in his commentary, with great visual examples.

    Diving into the rest of the behind-the-scenes featurettes illustrates that despite Rodriguez' ultimate auteur position, work on his films is truly collaborative. He allows both actors and crew to play to their strengths, and if there isn't room for it, he'll make room. (Hence Juni's penchant for ballet.)

    It's the extras from the studio that don't measure up. Once again, we get a "set top game" that's just a set of trivia questions based on the movie, without any real interactivity. Strangely enough, last week's release of Belle's Magical World offered more variety in exploring what a DVD can do.

    But that's a minor quibble. Though I'm not quite as enamored of the film as Jordan was, the DVD of Spy Kids 2 ended up being surprisingly rejuvenating. After watching it, you won't be saying "I can do that!" so much as "heck, I can do something -- and should."

    Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams

    Derek McCaw


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