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Spy Kids 2 - Island of Lost Dreams

Spy Kids 2 - Island of Lost Dreams

The sequel to last spring's surprise hit from Robert Rodriguez, subtitled "Island of Lost Dreams " is fun family entertainment that doesn't rely on crude, puerile humor.

The target audience will again like the pairing of the junior sibling agents, Carmen and Juni Cortez, played by the appealing Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara.

Some laughs are had early on with the arrival of Carmen and Juni at the amusement park of Dinky Winks (Bill Paxton) as the U.S. President's impetuous daughter (Taylor Momsen) is stuck on one of the attraction's rides, but not the Vomiter.

In this ambitiously creative sequel, just 16 months after Spy Kids, the Cortez spy dad, Gregorio (Antonio Banderas) loses an OSS promotion to the urbane Donnagan (Mike Judge of "Beavis and Butt-head" fame).  The slippery expert in espionage has two kids, Gary and Gerti Giggles (Matt O'Leary of Frailty and Emily Osment, Haley Joel's sister) who rub in their latest assignment on Carmen and Juni who don't like how they brag about their cool spy stuff.

Carmen's savvy as a hacker doesn't please mom Ingrid, an underused Carla Gugino (Snake Eyes), but the clever 13-year-old relocates Gary and Gerti to the Gobi Desert, and the spy kids are off to change the fortunes of the family name in the OSS.

The story takes them to something like The Island of Dr. Moreau.  There, a paranoid philosophical genetic scientist named Romero, a low-key Steve Buscemi (Ghost World) keeps track of his hybrid animal zoo.  His unique creatures have kid-friendly names like "Slizzard" and "Spoke" (a stork and a pig).  A centaur-like animal is key in the outcome which draws from "Sinbad" and others which feature buccaneer skeletons from Ray Harryhausen.

The Island of Lost Dreams has plenty of neat items from the "Dragonfly" underwater spy ship to R.A.L.P.H., a resourceful electronic spider.

Ultimately, a sense of family values surfaces in this visual extravaganza, a child-like dream of the director who works well with digital cameras.  In some ways, there appears the need to top Spy Kids and what suffers is the sharp continuity of the story as Rodriguez took on many of the film making efforts himself.

Even so, a colorful production provides enough enjoyment for those looking for action and humor in a family film where missing the original isn't that big a deal.

Spy Kids 2 - Island of Lost Dreams

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