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Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams
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Length:1h 40mins
Cast:Robert Rodriguez, Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega

The Cortez family is back to save the world in this inspired adventure that boasts awesome stunts, way-cool new gadgets, and fantastic new characters. Siblings Carmen and Juni (Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara) are now members of the SPYkids division of a covert espionage agency, which by all rights should be run by their father, Gregorio (Antonio Banderas). But he has been usurped by Donnagan Giggles (Beavis and Butt-head creator Mike Judge). Also bedeviling Carmen and Juni are Giggles's kids, Gary and Gerti, who take credit for the Cortezes' heroics and also land the plum assignments. The rivalry plays out spectacularly in the invisible Island of Lost Dreams, where Carmen and Juni race to retrieve something called the Transmooker Device. The island is home to Romero (Steve Buscemi), a scientist who has created a menagerie of incredible mutated miniature creatures, such as flying pigs and spider monkeys. Like the original film, this sequel is ceaselessly inventive. In one dazzling sequence, director Robert Rodriguez pays homage to stop-motion animation wizard Ray Harryhausen with a skeleton army that recalls the sword-wielding bone soldiers in Jason and the Argonauts. In addition to cameos from Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming), Alexander Minion (Tony Shalhoub), Uncle Machete (Danny Trejo), and Felix (Cheech Marin) from the first film, Spy Kids 2 takes great delight in introducing Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor as Gregorio's meddling in-laws who are still not convinced that Gregorio is good enough for their daughter (Carla Gugino). They themselves are formidable agents who teach the increasingly annoyed Gregorio a trick or two. Never, for example, underestimate the power of a simple rubber band. This inspired sequel is not just kids' stuff: In fact, younger children may find some of the action and language a little rough. The features-packed DVD takes viewers deep behind the scenes, with fun and fast-paced segments that reveal the resourcefulness with which Rodriguez maintained "a big vision" on a modest budget. There are also deleted scenes that, though interesting to watch, were deleted with good reason. Donald Liebenson

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