People who want the Robert Rodriguez that made Sin City or Once Upon A Time In Mexico should probably not see
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D. This just isn’t your movie. It’s a kids film. One made up by Racer Max Rodriguez (Robert’s son) and brought to life in his father’s studio in Texas, this film is amazing and flawed all at the same time. Anybody who has studied the films of Robert Rodriguez knows that for him, the fun is in the doing and the final product is merely the end of the process.
Not that Rodriguez doesn’t want his films to look good and do well in the marketplace, but how many filmmakers that make the kinds of movies he makes are as prolific as he is? He is just someone who cranks these things out putting everything he has into them. Some of his movies are really good, some aren’t so good, but before you can think about what their problems are, he has another movie on the horizon. Few filmmakers have as much fun as he seems to have, which is why regardless of how his films fare commercially, I don’t think he has made a film that he wouldn’t consider a success.
On the whole, I think that this movie works a lot more than it doesn’t work. I think that the effects look amazing, and that the idea of a boy believing in his own dreams is a very powerful statement. At times, you can tell that this film was made on a soundstage, but who really cares? The audience for this film is kids. It’s not for the people who make up their opinions in a “seen it all” film society. It’s for people who still believe in things. Who still have dreams and aren’t limited by self imposed boundaries.
Creating “Sharkboy and Lavagirl” With Racer Max
This is a brief making of in which we see Rodriguez and his son talking about the film. He contrasts his son’s drawings with the finished shots in the film, and as usual makes the filmmaking process look very easy and fluid. Then you watch the films and he has a credit list as long as the actual movie, so you know that things aren’t as simple as they appear. Whatever the case, I think the initial idea of taking that creative spark and nurturing it is shown in a very unique way. Also, since he is doing this with his son and encouraging this type of thought, I hope that other filmmakers will follow his lead.
Feature Commentary with Director Robert Rodriguez
This was a bit of a letdown only because the commentary on Spy Kids 2 was so well done, and had such a profound impact on me as a writer and filmmaker. Rodriguez spends a lot of this commentary explaining things and talking about where the ideas came from, but it just feels sort of stale. His son joins him and while I found this to be cute it seemed to be a tad self-indulgent. Afterall, he did get this idea from his son, right? How much more overboard could he go? Still, there were some parts of this track that I found inspiring.
Widescreen (1.85:1) - Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions. I love the way this movie looks. The colors are truly amazing and they almost leap off the screen. Sure, there are moments when you can tell that this movie was shot on a soundstage, but isn’t the point supposed to be that these children are in a playground of the mind? Looked at from that perspective, when we see them traversing the stream of consciousness or in the land of milk and cookies, things should seem bigger then life, right? This movie is all about imagination and that is what allows the characters to soar to new heights.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. As Rodriguez also handles a lot of the sound duties on his movies (creating the soundtracks, writing the theme songs, etc...), it comes as no surprise that the audio itself is like it’s own character in the film. Sure this world has been created separately from it, but the movie as a whole really is an extension of this filmmaker. While I think the theme song for this movie is a tad cheesy, I am constantly checking myself with the reminder that this is a children’s movie. It really isn’t meant for older people but if older audiences happen to enjoy it that is fine too.
Sharkboy and Lavagirl stand in hero stances showing us their powers. Behind them, George Lopez grimaces as Mr. Electricity. The colors on this box are as vivid and sharp as they are in the actual movie. Kids are going to be very happy with this release. The back features more shots from the movie, ships flying around, a description of the film and an extras/tech specs listing. There is also a cast list. Four sets of 3-D glasses accompany this DVD, and there is also a tutorial on the DVD so you can adjust your set to maximize the 3-D experience. I suspect this movie is going to do very well on home video.
The more I think about the look of this movie the more amazed by it I am. I am also happy that Dimension Films made this movie available in both 3-D and 2-D. I say this because the glasses that they give you to watch the movie are not meant for adults. Or, maybe I just put the wrong pair on? Whatever the case, I started watching this film in 3-D and my 13” TV just wasn’t cutting the mustard. So I started watching it again in 2-D and the film worked just fine that way. Maybe I was missing a little bit of the theatrics... but Treasure of the Four Crowns pretty much killed my taste for 3-D anyway.
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D is a kids film that I feel comfortable recommending to all parents. I think that there are many important life lessons to be gleaned from it, and Robert Rodriguez is proving himself to be very reliable at bringing those ideas across to all of us.
The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3D was released June 10, 2005.