Spy Kids: All the Time in the World arrived in theaters at the tail end of the 2011 summer season, attempting to revive a highly lucrative franchise that had been dormant for eight years. Beginning in 2001, Robert Rodriguez wrote and directed one Spy Kids movie each year for three years. The original trilogy, produced on a relatively modest budget, grossed over three-hundred million dollars. Ultimately, a new generation of kids did not embrace Spy Kids, as the new film’s total domestic gross barely topped the third film’s opening weekend. Perhaps this moderately entertaining time-passer will find a wider audience on home video.
In the fourth installment, the original adult stars Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino are gone but their kids – Carmen and Juni – are present in supporting roles. The plot is rather convoluted in a sort of sub-Doctor Who kind of way. The Timekeeper has found a way to steal time – literally making time speed up, with days going by faster and faster. Marissa Wilson (Jessica Alba) is a former spy called back into action to solve the mystery. Marissa retired after the birth of her child, fathered by her husband Wilbur (Joel McHale). Wilbur already had two kids – Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook) – and they both despise their new stepmother. Wilbur hosts a spy-hunting reality television show, utterly clueless about his wife’s true background and line of work.
Soon enough, Rebecca and Cecil gain a newfound respect for their stepmom after figuring out that she is a spy. With the help of Argonaut, a robotic dog (voiced by Ricky Gervais), the two siblings join their mother in the fight to stop the Timekeeper. They get some much needed assistance from Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara), now young adults, who turn up late in the film. Their presence will be welcomed by longtime Spy Kids fans, which keeps All the Time in the World from being a reboot. Regardless, this may the end of the line for the series. Critics were merciless in bashing the film, but it’s kind of hard to see why. While mired in fart and puke jokes, the film should be very entertaining for its target audience: the ten and under crowd. The earlier Spy Kids films held more appeal as family viewing, but the new one is a painless and brief experience, loaded with imagination.
The Blu-ray release of Spy Kids: All the Time in the World includes both a 2-D and 3-D Blu-ray. So don’t expect to find a cheaper option that only contains the 2-D version, as is the case with most titles. The movie looks truly excellent in 1080p high definition, with spectacular clarity and detail throughout. The colors – and this is one very colorful movie – burst off the screen. The movie is very effects-driven, with ornate set design and costumes as well. Textures are well-defined, from the actor’s skin and hair to the patterns on concrete surfaces and buildings. The images are always crisp, preventing things from becoming a garish, over-baked mess.
I’ll be upfront about this: I don’t care for the current 3-D trend. It just feels gimmicky to me and unnecessary. I like watching movies in 2-D and quite frankly I wouldn’t feel at all disappointed if the 3-D rage were to die out. And to make matters worse, I get a headache while watching things in 3-D. That said, for review purposes I sampled sections of the 3-D Blu-ray and found the visuals to be very impressive. For those who enjoy 3-D, I think this will provide a satisfying experience. Based on watching the movie in 2-D, it didn’t seem like there were an abundance of sequences designed with 3-D in mind. Jumping around throughout the 3-D version seemed to confirm this, but the effects were generally realistic, if never quite earth-shattering. The overall look maintained the excellent visual presentation found in the 2-D version.
The audio lives up to the excellence of the visuals, as All the Time in the World contains a highly enveloping DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. This is almost an assaultive aural experience, with tons of sound emanating from all channels without a break. That’s not entirely true, of course, but given the eight-eight minute running time, there are not many quite moments to be found. Dialogue always rises above the din, nice and clear, from the center channel. Music is well balanced, mostly coming from the right and left channels. The effects steal the show, with a multitude of varied sounds nearly attacking the viewer from all sides. It was almost too busy, but it is in keeping with the overall “more is more” feel of the movie.
Special features are curiously lacking, with a series of short featurettes all presented in standard definition. The deleted scenes were deleted for good reason. Interviews with director Robert Rodriguez, the returning stars of the earlier Spy Kids movies, and Ricky Gervais are not very illuminating but might be fun for fans. The “How to Make a Robotic Dog” and “Spy Gadgets” featurettes are very short and not likely to inspire repeat viewings from even the most rabid fans of the franchise. In addition to the 2-D and 3-D Blu-ray discs, there is a standard DVD and a Digital Copy disc included in the combo pack. And it should be noted, the film’s theatrical “4-D” scratch-and-sniff Aromascope gimmick has not been reproduced for the Blu-ray release.