THE ADVENTURES OF SHARKBOY AND LAVAGIRL
** (out of 5)
June 10, 2005
Cayden Boyd as MAX
George Lopez as MR. ELECTRICIDAD
David Arquette as DAD
Kristen Davis as MOM
Taylor Dooley as LAVAGIRL
Taylor Lautner as SHARKBOY
Jacob Davich as MINUS
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
BY KEVIN CARR
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Anyone who has done any work in independent film knows the story of Robert Rodriguez. Like Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino, he is a legend in this field. However, Rodriguez has come a long way from making a $7000 indie film in Mexico and selling it for big bucks to Columbia Pictures.
Even today, he is anomaly in the industry. He consistently turns in completed films with low budgets and high production values. This is because Rodriguez has become a jack of all trades in his own films, doing everything from cinematography to set design to special effects to writing the score himself.
His most recent films like the “Spy Kids” series, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” and “Sin City” have been achievements in technology. Like George Lucas, he shoots everything on video and has all but abandoned film. He’s also utilized green screens and digital effects extensively. Some of his films, like “Sky Kids 3-D,” have actually overused this technology, foregoing the magic that happens when characters act together on stage. Rather, Rodriguez has shot different actors at completely different times and later composited them together in the computer.
But the problem with being a jack of all trades is that you become a master of none – and eventually something will suffer. With Rodriguez, what suffers is the writing. His debut film, “El Mariachi,” was clever enough, but without someone else writing the script, his stories as of late have been severely lacking.
Earlier this year, Rodriguez released one of his best films so far – “Sin City.” It had a great look, but moreover, it had some great writing. Rodriguez owes that entirely to the genius of comic book guru Frank Miller. This is painfully apparent in his latest release, “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.”
This new film is strictly a kids film. The story comes from a dream that Rodriguez’s son had, and he wrote the story with kids in mind. However, the problem with that is it’s such a kid’s movie that it lacks any appeal to anyone with the intellectual capacity higher than that of a ten year old. The only thing that saves this movie is that it isn’t trying to be more than a kids film.
“The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl” tells the story of Max (Cayden Boyd), a grade school kid who spends more time fantasizing about imaginary friends than doing his school work. Whether he’s being tormented at school by some bullies or struggling to keep up with his grumpy teacher Mr. Electridad (George Lopez), he always turns to his dreams as an escape.
However, one day he wakes up to find the characters from his dreams to be real. They are reaching out to him to save their dream world, bringing Max into the dreams Matrix-style, to fight evil forces. I have to admit, the plot kinda wore on me. Unlike classic family-friendly films, there really isn’t anything in “Sharkboy and Lavagirl” for adults.
Admittedly, the 3-D is cool, but really unnecessary. Since so few theaters have the ability to project polarized 3-D, you’re stuck with the murky red/green glasses. Let’s be frank about this – these glasses are irritating on the eyes. They always have been. Like “Spy Kids 3-D,” the coolness of the 3-D effects quickly wore off, and I longed for a simple 2-D film to try and enjoy.
Earlier this summer, George Lucas took a lot of hits for his clunky dialogue in “Star Wars.” Lucas should be thrilled with Rodriguez now, considering the writing is so rocky in “Sharkboy and Lavagirl” that it makes the dialogue from “Star Wars” to seem positively Shakespearean. Add to the fact that there are unnecessary songs in the film and plot twists more cliche than an after-school special, and you’ve got a film that can only survive only on special effects.
Ultimately, “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl” reminds me of kids shows like the Power Rangers. They’re a neat enough idea, but they have nothing whatsoever that appeals to the parents – or even the older siblings. If I were eight years old, I probably would think this movie was the greatest film ever made. However, being an adult, the movie just irritated me.