Bil’s rating (out of 5): 0.5. USA, 2003. Dimension Films, Los Hooligans Productions, Troublemaker Studios. Screenplay by Robert Rodriguez. Cinematography by Robert Rodriguez. Produced by Elizabeth Avellan, Robert Rodriguez. Music by Rebecca Rodriguez. Production Design by Robert Rodriguez. Costume Design by Nina Proctor. Film Editing by Robert Rodriguez.
What a piece of crap. Robert Rodriguez has really let all the air out of his otherwise enjoyable franchise about the two pint-sized agents who save the world from nefarious villains everywhere. This time, Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara) is pulled back into the agency (after having left it) to save his sister Carmen (Alexa PenaVega) after she gets lost on a mission to capture an evil tyrant known only as the Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone). It seems that Carmen has entered a virtual reality video game in which the Toymaker resides, and now Juni must enter it as well to find her (on Level 4) and save her before it’s too late. Entering the game, he finds himself in a completely digital universe with hulking monsters and difficult mazes to survive, and along the way makes a few friends who help him. While it’s quite dazzling (especially in 3-D), the story is painfully weak and the whole exercise an obvious marketing ploy for a video game. Kids might be so bored they’ll turn it off to play the game instead, while adults will simply turn suicidal. The films were much better when they involved the kids’ parents (Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino) more, and this one doesn’t improve its chances with celebrity cameos either. Terrible writing, especially in the last third, and an overall dreadful experience.