Saturday, August 27, 2011

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World [ Movie Review ] ★★

The Pitch

How do you bring in the element of smell into a cinematic experience? Robert Rodriguez will be attempting to do that with the latest installment of Spy Kids movies.

A Scratch & Sniff Card that allows the movie goers to smell the different aroma of the movie. Calling it the Aroma-Scope, movie goers will be able to enjoy the "fourth dimension" (hence 4D) of the movie.

It's a gimmicky trick to lure the targeted demographic into the cinemas but since the modern 3D movies are no longer a novelty, it's interesting to see what the Aroma-Scope has to offer. Let's not forget that Robert Rodriguez made Spy Kids 3 in 3D format before the modern 3D craze started. Who knows? Aroma-Scope might just be the next trend in gimmicky movies.

Disclaimer: Robert Rodriguez did not pioneer the use of Scratch & Sniff Card or 3D in a movie but for this reviewer, the usage of this two gimmicks on the Spy Kids franchise were the most memorable ones in movie history.

The Plot

Marissa (Jessica Alba) is a retired secret agent for the OSS (Organization of Super Spies). Her life now revolve around her step kids, a pair of twins named Rebecca and Cecil (Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook) and her own baby girl. Her husband, Wilbur Wilson (Joel McHale) is a spy hunting reality television program host who is unaware that his wife was a top notch spy.

Their relatively uneventful life took a drastic change when the world is threatened by The Timekeeper and his goons. They speed up the time and soon everyone on Earth is running out of time. Marissa has been recalled back into action by the director of the OSS, Danger D'amo (Jeremy Piven). It turned out that the bad guys are after a red-sapphire necklace that Marissa had just (coincidentally) given it to Rebecca the night before. The Timekeeper are hunting the kids down and surprise surprise, the kids might not be as defenseless as they looked.

The Perspective  

Let's start by reviewing the usage of Aroma-Scope / Scratch n Sniff card as part of a movie watching experience. We were supposed to rub the respective number when prompted by the movie.

It wasn't impressive at all. The audio explanation for the Aroma-Scope could have been done with visual. Folks scratching with coin (which was what I did) might not get the smell the various distinct aroma as compared to those who sniff their thumb after rubbing those number.

Most of the aroma numbers smell like bubble gum and a couple smell like a nasty farty stink. It didn't really enhance the story telling process and served as nothing more than a gimmicky distraction. The aroma numbers didn't evenly spread out in this movie. The first two were evenly spread in the first half of the movie and the next three were squeezed into one scene with only the fifth aroma bearing a rather distinct citrus smell . The sixth aroma smell like cardboard and the seventh aroma gave the most nasty revelation. The very last one didn't make much sense with what going in the movie and smelled like the first two aroma.

I don't think this Aroma-scope would catch on. There are far too many complaints online that indicate it's not working for them. It didn't work that well for me and my movie partner either. All this checking for the right number and rubbing actually take time away from the screen. It's "fun" for novelty act but I wouldn't want to do this again for movie watching.

Aroma-Scope aside, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World marks the first time that I watched an installment of the Spy Kid franchise (or any of Robert Rodriguez's movies made specifically for kids). While there are kiddish movies that are made for both kids and adult,  Spy Kids 4: All the Time was made strictly for kids and it's a pissed poor "made for television kids channel" quality.

Predictable plotlines and cardboard characters, Spy Kids 4 just dragged on and on. The morale of spending quality time with love ones and the wordplay on time was repeatedly hammered into the audience. It became tiresome and draining. The intended effect to amuse with the puns for time became increasing unfunny as the movie progress. I actually felt sad for kids if this is how kids entertainment are supposed to be these days. 

If there's anything that was remotely entertaining, I would say that Ricky Gervais' a talking robot dog named Argonaut had a few funny lines. But for every funny line, there's a poo / fart gag line up to counter it. It's hard to imagine that the Robert Rodriguez who made movies like Sin City and Planet Terror could come up craps like this. I hope his kids will grow up soon and he would not have the excuse to make this type of movies for his kids anymore.

Worth the 3D price?

It's just as equally weak as the Aroma-scope card. Nothing really stood out in this 3D format. Even when it's a special effect laden scene. There are plenty of moments when one could view this movie without the 3D glasses. That's right, not much 3D in this movie at all.

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