Spy Kids: All the Time in the World came out too late for anyone to care. By this point I was getting too old for kids movies like this. So this became the only family friendly Robert Rodriguez movie I didn’t see in theaters. Just like Spy Kids 3-D, Spy Kids 4-D tries to force another gimmick. This time by incorporating scratch & sniff cards. A process previously used in 2003 where you scratch a number and smell what’s in the movie. Although you might not want to pick them up with smells like dog farts on them. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World follows a new less interesting spy kid duo. The girl likes to pull pranks and the boy has hearing loss. They’re no comparison to Carmen and Juni. Who are of course in the movie along with Machete. Alexa Vega looks more mature and Daryl Sabara is a lot bigger. Aside from their appearance, Jessica Alba is the only other draw. She plays a spy mom that’s married to the father of the kids. Ricky Gervais also plays a sarcastic robot dog, but it’s nothing but potty humor. The kids try to take down a villain called “The Time Keeper.” Who plans to stop time or something. With a forgettable plot that can’t compare to the original trilogy, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World does nothing but waste your time.
The new spy kids
Preceded by: Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over was a serious strain on people’s eyes. Its always been Robert Rodriguez goal to bring back old fashion method’s of filmmaking. So he figured he’d make the third Spy Kids movie using obnoxious 3D. Something my dad had to suffer through when he took us to see it. I wasn’t doing much better though. I remember taking off my red and blue 3D glasses at least 3 separate times. Luckily the entire movie isn’t in 3D. Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over puts much more focus on Juni. Carmen is still around, but she takes a back seat to most of the action. After leaving the OSS in Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, Juni now works as a private kid investigator. He’s brought back into the spy life when an evil video game called Game Over takes over. Plunging into the game is when you have to put on your 3D glasses. While inside the game, Juni finds new allies in Rez, Arnold, Francis, and a mysterious girl named Demetra. None of whom have much personality. Ricardo Montalbán is also given legs through digital means. Speaking of digital, the effects make up nearly 80% of the movie. There’s a racing level, a fighting level, and of course a lava level. The man pulling the strings is called “The Toymaker.” Sylvester Stallone puts in a bizarre pre-comeback performance. When the game is won, Carmen and Juni have to fight it in the real world with the help of their friends and family. Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over is a better video game than it is a movie.
Carmen and Juni inside Game Over
Preceded by: Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams & Followed by: Spy Kids: All the Time in the World
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams takes the action to strange new places. Robert Rodriguez immediately followed up Spy Kids with its sequel. While the kids were still young. Much like the first movie, I also remember it fondly from my childhood. Along with seeing both in theaters, I remember getting Spy Kids 2 toys for Christmas. As well as having a buildable happy meal toy of the latest gadget. A robotic beetle named Ralph. Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams sees Carmen and Juni as fully formed spies. Part of the OSS organization which is shown in much more detail. While attempting to rescue the President’s daughter at an amusement park, two other spy kids interfere. Gary and Gerti Giggles, who are the kids of Mike Judge’s character from the first movie. A misunderstanding costs Juni his spy status, but Carmen brings him back to take on the next big mission. Traveling to a remote island that contains a device which can shut off all electronic devices. Meaning most of the movies action doesn’t involve fancy gadgets. Instead Carmen and Juni use their wits to fight magnet men, skeletons, and giant hybrid animals. The animals were created by a strangely philosophical loonatic scientist named Romero. Meanwhile Mr. and Mrs. Cortez try to find their kids with the help of their grandparents. In the end, trust is the lesson everybody learns. Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara are given much more of a starring role. Vega is even given a chance to sing at the end. Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams is an adventure most kids could only dream of.
Carmen and Juni leave the island
Preceded by: Spy Kids & Followed by: Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over
Spy Kids brings the world of international espionage to the playground. On paper a movie about kid spies may sound ridiculous, but it’s actually the highest rated movie of Robert Rodriguez career. Although Rodriguez normally makes extremely violent films like his best friend Quentin Tarantino, Spy Kids was his first of many family friendly films. Such a tonal shift was attributed to his own kids. Whom he loved so much, he decided to make movies for them. Spy Kids is one of the most fondly remembered movies of my childhood. I even brought it in for my class to watch one time. Spy Kids centers on the Cortez family. Gregorio and Ingrid are secretly spies who now have two kids Carmen and Juni. Carmen is the more adventurous older sister. While Juni is the more timid younger brother. When their parents are captured, it’s up to them to come to the rescue. By using an array of cool gadgets and vehicles. Despite being a kids movie, Rodriguez continued to work with actors he used in his more mature films. Like Antonio Banderas or Danny Trejo. Oddly enough Trejo’s character Machete was always meant to be an R rated character. While on their mission the villain is seemingly revealed to be a wacky kids show host named Floop. With plans of building an army of robot spy children. He also has an army of thumbs. In the end, the Cortez’s learn the importance of working together as a family. It may seem dated to some, but Spy Kids is still a fun combination of fast paced action and inoffensive comedy.
The Cortez family fights together
Followed by: Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams
Austin Powers in Goldmember is the golden finale to the unexpected hit trilogy. Dr. Evil’s newest plan takes him back in time to the year 1975. With the help of the titular villain’s cold fusion technology, he launches “Preparation H.” Mike Myers does quadruple duty by playing Dutch villain Goldmember (an obvious parody of Bond villain Goldfinger). He’s the least notable character Myers plays due to his disgusting habits, but he does have his moments. Fat Bastard gets grosser too after becoming a sumo wrestler. Austin goes after Dr. Evil, only to reunite with FBI agent Foxy Cleopatra. Played by a sexy young Beyoncé. Her character is a hilarious send up of Blaxploitation characters such as Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones. A lot of the plot involves Austin’s father Nigel Powers (played by Michael Caine), who gets kidnapped by Dr. Evil. Their funniest moment involves the two speaking English English. Through the course of the movie, a shocking family secret is discovered. Mini-Me also choses to side with Austin. Meanwhile, Scott gets more villainous. Despite good jokes like the misread Japanese subtitles or mole with a mole, a lot of the gags are repeated. Including the mistaken silhouette and sexually shaped spacecraft. Probably the funniest new gag is a film within a film titled Austinpussy. Starring Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Danny Devito, Kevin Spacey, and John Travolta. Austin Powers in Goldmember is more immature, but it’s a whole lotta movie to just ignore.
Austin Powers and Foxy in Dr. Evil’s lair
Preceded by: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is arguably the most memorable film in the trilogy. Since it’s the one that introduces iconic characters Mini-Me and Fat Bastard. It’s also notable for making the British slang term less vulgar. After the events of the last movie, Vanessa is discovered to be a fembot. Austin quickly gets over it and celebrates being single once again (much like how Bond girls are quickly forgotten). After appearing on Jerry Springer with Scott, Dr. Evil hatches a new plan involving a laser on the moon. The plan takes Dr. Evil back in time to the year 1969. Where a younger Number 2 and unaged Frau Farbissina greet him. But first, Dr. Evil hires a henchman to steal Austin Powers’ mojo. Mike Myers does triple duty by playing Scottish henchman Fat Bastard. He’s morbidly obese and famously says the line “Get in my belly!” Austin travels back in time to stop Dr. Evil after failing to satisfy Ivana Humpalot. Austin teams up with 60’s CIA agent Felicity Shagwell. Played by the gorgeous Heather Graham. While on their mission, the two encounter unkillable assassin Robin Swallows and the easily irritated Mustafa. However, no villain stands out more than Mini-Me. Dr. Evil’s clone played by late little person Verne Troyer. He’s silent, but full of fury. While some jokes have definitely gotten more gross-out, it nevertheless takes advantage of the hilarious characters they created. Its funniest gags include “zip-it” (instead of shush), the mistaken silhouette scene, and the rocket that looks like someone’s- Willie Nelson and many other celebrities make funny cameos as well. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is one groovy baby… baby.
Austin Powers and Felicity take aim
Preceded by: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery & Followed by: Austin Powers in Goldmember
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is the James Bond parody we deserve. Growing up, it was practically impossible to escape Austin Powers. It was so quotable that I knew lines from the movie long before I saw any of them. The movie begins in the 60’s. Austin Powers is an exaggerated British spy with bad teeth and colorful suits. After a fight with his archenemy Dr. Evil, both are cryogenically frozen until the year 1997. Austin Powers is one of a few parody films that’s both hilarious and sincere. Austin’s horned up swinger attitude is lost on the modern sensibilities of his partner Vanessa Kensington. Played by British babe Elizabeth Hurley. Their best gag involves obscured nudity. Mike Myers is satirizing past Bond actors, but he does make the role his own. With catchphrases like “Oh behave,” “Yeah, baby,” or “Judo chop.” Myers does double duty by playing Dr. Evil, in a hilarious performance that very nearly outshines the hero. He’s an obvious parody of Blofeld with a hairless cat named Mr. Bigglesworth. His plan is to steal nuclear weapons, hold the world ransom for “one million dollars,” and use sexy fembots to kill Austin Powers. The only problem is he’s surrounded by frickin’ idiots that can’t even get sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads. Like Number 2, Frau Farbissina, and Mustafa (who can’t seem to die). His Oddjob-like henchman is the shoe throwing Random Task. Seth Green also stands out as Dr. Evil’s grungy son Scott whom he takes to father-son counseling. Other Bond parodies include much more obvious names like Alotta Fagina or multiple one-liner attempts. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is a very shagadelic riff on the spy genre.
Austin Powers and Vanessa at the poker table
Followed by: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Spectre finally brings the titular evil organization back to the Bond franchise. After not appearing since Diamonds Are Forever. Due to the Thunderball legal controversy that was at last settled in 2013. Spectre is the twenty-fourth film in the long running franchise, and is based only on the newly secured Ian Fleming characters. Meaning Ernst Stavro Blofeld not so surprisingly makes a return. With a few changes made to fit it into the newly established continuity. Like the removal of Spectre’s acronym or retconning Quantum and previous villains as being part of Spectre all along. Much like Quantum of Solace, Spectre is a far weaker installment in comparison to the film that preceded it. It bares the distinction of being both the longest and most expensive Bond film ever made.
The Mission: Uncover secrets behind criminal organization Spectre and stop plan to launch global surveillance
Gadgets & Vehicles: Aston Martin DB10 (equipped with flamethrowers, rear machine guns, body armour, driver ejector seat, phone holder, and HUD), Explosive Omega Watch
Bond Girls: Madeleine Swann, Lucia Sciarra
Bond Villains: Franz Oberhauser, Mr. Hinx, Max Denbigh, Marco Sciarra, Mr. White, Lorenzo
Analysis: Skyfall was admittedly a tough act to follow, but Spectre was such a dramatic decline that I decided against seeing it in theaters. I somewhat regret doing it, but I was trying to save money, and didn’t have time for just okay. It’s a real shame when a Bond film is the least memorable spy movie in a year full of spy movies. The only really groundbreaking part is the opening. A single unbroken shot of Bond in Mexico with a woman during Day of the Dead. Followed by an exciting action scene that ends on a helicopter. The opening credits sequence is fine, but the naked women wrapped in tentacles might give off the wrong idea. Sam Smith won an Oscar for Best Original Song. Even though “Writing’s On the Wall” is one of the most ear piercing Bond themes ever written. I think Smith was only chosen because he and Adele are both British. The song’s title refers to a wall of names in the movie. The rest of the nearly 3 hour long Spectre is so ridiculously slow that it becomes almost boring. With far too much time being dedicated to MI6 business meetings. 007 does use a spy car, but Q still gives him barely any gadgets. Just a watch that’s later revealed to be a bomb. Bond uses a Spectre ring and the alias Mickey Mouse to infiltrate a meeting conducted by Franz Oberhauser. The head of Spectre played by Oscar winner Christoph Waltz. Oberhauser is obviously revealed to be Blofeld. Albeit with an origin that connects to Bond’s childhood. His plan is to initiate a mass surveillance system. Which connects to our current fear of being spied on by technology. Mr. Hinx is Blofeld’s henchman. Dave Bautista plays him much in the style of a classic silent Bond henchman. Monica Bellucci is the oldest actress to play a Bond girl. Playing the widow of a Spectre agent. The main Bond girl is psychiatrist and daughter of Mr. White, Dr. Madeleine Swann. She’s surprisingly the first blonde Bond girl lead since The Living Daylights. Since Daniel Craig’s attitude towards the franchise has put his future into question, it’s hard to say how long he’s got left. Spectre is just an exercise in how to make a by the numbers Bond flick.
James Bond in the mountains
James Bond will return in No Time to Die
Skyfall finally brings Bond back to his former glory. Earning the film critical acclaim, 2 Oscar wins, and a $1 billion box-office gross. Skyfall is the twenty-third film in the long running franchise, and it was the first Bond film released in the action-packed 2010’s. It was also released during the 50th anniversary of the franchise. It’s not based on Ian Fleming’s work, but it does celebrate the anniversary by bringing back elements that were missing for over a decade. Such as the reintroduction of Q and Miss Moneypenny. Albeit with slight differences. Q is now much younger than 007 and Miss Moneypenny is now black. There was also the welcomed return of gadgets. Like the continued use of Bond’s signature Walther PPK and the return of the classic Aston Martin. M was even given her largest role in the franchise to date.
The Mission: Investigate attack on MI6 and keep M out of harm’s way
Gadgets & Vehicles: Walther PPK/S with palm scanner, Radio Transmitter, Aston Martin DB5 (equipped with machine guns)
Bond Girls: Eve, Sévérine
Bond Villains: Raoul Silva, Patrice
Analysis: Skyfall is actually the first (and only) James Bond film I went to the theater to see. Since my brother and I finally got around to binge watching all 22 films before its release. We were hesitant at first, but decided the movie was simply too big to ignore. Contributing to its billion dollar gross. Making it the highest grossing Bond film of all time. Skyfall is perhaps the most personal film in the franchise. Oscar winning director Sam Mendes (of American Beauty fame) makes an impact. It opens with 007 on a mission with a field agent named Eve. Bond is tasked with retrieving a stolen hard drive containing names of undercover agents. The train chase is thrilling and features some of Bond’s trademark wit. M orders Eve to shoot the assailant, only to hit Bond instead. To which he plunges into the water to his apparent death. Followed by one of the franchise’s all time best opening credit sequence/song combinations ever. The main theme, sung by Adele, is a powerhouse Bond theme. Only supported by visuals of women, guns, and death. The song was so incredible that it became the first Bond theme to ever win the Academy Award for Best Original Song (it was also tied for Best Sound Editing). Daniel Craig delivers his best Bond performance yet, with a Bond that’s become weary and self reflective. Bond returns from death after an attack on MI6, only to receive reevaluation. 007 meets the new Q in an art gallery where he simply supplies him with a gun that can only work for him and a transmitter. Ben Whishaw does his best to replicate Q’s signature snark. Bond’s mission takes him to Shanghai where he fights off many henchmen and seduces the film’s only romantic Bond girl. Sévérine has a bit of an uncomfortable backstory and dies suddenly, but she does evoke classic Bond girl flare. It’s not till the halfway mark that we meet the film’s main Bond villain. Javier Bardem makes a big impression as Raul Silva. An ex-MI6 agent and current cyberterrorist seeking revenge against M. In her increased screen time, Judi Dench makes M more human than she’s ever been before. After resurrecting the original Aston Martin, M and 007 hideout in Bond’s titular childhood home Skyfall. Ending with a dramatic confrontation that shockingly ends in M’s death. A new MI6 with Ralph Fiennes as M is established in her memory. Naomie Harris has a large role as Eve, who chooses to become a secretary at the end. Revealing her last name to be Moneypenny. Skyfall is everything you could ever want in a Bond blockbuster.
James Bond and M arrive at Skyfall
James Bond will return in Spectre
Quantum of Solace has the worst title of any Bond film. I honestly had no idea what it meant the first time it was announced. It’s the twenty-second film in the long running franchise, and it’s based on one of the short stories featured in Ian Fleming’s book For Your Eyes Only. I understand utilizing what little there was left of Fleming’s work, but “Quantum of Solace” is not a good choice. Neither are any of the remaining short story titles. Quantum of Solace is the first Bond film to be a direct sequel. Unlike Casino Royale though, it was a far weaker addition by comparison. The Writers Strike might have had something to do with it. Despite being the shortest Bond film to date, it has more violence than any other.
The Mission: Avenge the death of former lover and stop plot to seize control of Bolivian water supply
Gadgets & Vehicles: Modified Cell Phone, Quantum Earpiece
Bond Girls: Camille Montes, Strawberry Fields
Bond Villains: Dominic Greene, General Medrano, Mr. White, Guy Haines, Elvis, Edmund Slate, Carlos, Craig Mitchell
Analysis: While Casino Royale dealt with terrorism, Quantum of Solace deals with environmentalism. Since movies about the environment ran rampant in the late 2000’s. Although I still didn’t decide to embrace the franchise at the time, the trailer blew me away the first time I saw it. It’s fast paced action and use of the theme made it look awesome, but Quantum of Solace might be the most forgettable Bond film I’ve ever seen. The super quick runtime makes it feel so insignificant compared to the rest of the franchise. The gun barrel sequence doesn’t even come till the end. The only exciting part of the movie is most of the beginning. Except for the opening credits sequence. Not for its visuals, that thankfully bring back the women (made out of sand). It’s the main theme that bares no Bond distinction at all. The song is “Another Way to Die” and it’s the series first duet (sung by Jack White & Alicia Keys). I just don’t get the collaboration. Quantum of Solace takes place right after Casino Royale. As Bond grieves the loss of his beloved Vesper Lynd. The vengeance 007 seeks eventually leads to his discovery of Quantum. The organization responsible for her fate. Bond is assisted by Camille Montes. An agent with her own vendetta against the villain. Her lack of love scenes make her stand out less than other primary Bond girls. Bond does however seduce an MI6 agent named Strawberry Fields played by notable redhead Gemma Arterton. Unlike previous Bond films, they’re too embarrassed to even say her name out loud. Even though it’s not half as suggestive as previous Bond girl names. She meets a similar fate to Jill Masterson from Goldfinger. Only with oil instead of gold. Dominic Greene is the Bond villain who plans to control the Bolivian water supply. I barely remember anything about him, because he just looks like some guy. With barely any gadgets, the film makes up for it with brutal, almost gratuitous, sloppily edited, non-stop action. The rest of Quantum of Solace is just a snoozefest.
James Bond and Camille walk in the desert
James Bond will return in Skyfall