Fri. Dec 8th, 2023

This assessment was written throughout the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. With out the labor of the writers and actors at present on strike, the movie being coated right here would not exist.Over 20 years in the past, Robert Rodriguez launched millennials to spycraft and Thumb Thumbs together with his upbeat quartet of Spy Children movies, which embraced familial bonds and the potential youngsters have to save lots of the day by way of the optimism that solely they possess. These hopepunk themes have carried over into Rodriguez’s different kid-friendly motion comedies, like The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl and its subsequent star-studded Netflix sequel We Can Be Heroes, and permeate by way of the delightfully schmaltzy Spy Children reboot Spy Children: Armageddon.

Past the OSS (Group of Tremendous Spies), Spy Children: Armageddon appears largely disconnected from the earlier Spy Children franchise, paving the best way for Netflix to discover the story additional with a brand new solid of characters and fully totally different stakes. Along with rebooting the sequence, Rodriguez has re-teamed together with his son, Racer Rodriguez, who notably crafted the story for Sharkboy and Lavagirl on the tender age of seven. Whereas the youthful Rodriguez has lengthy since aged out of the movie’s target market, he and his father nonetheless appear completely able to crafting heartfelt household enjoyable.

Armageddon’s parental items lack the scorching-hot chemistry that Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino dropped at the unique trilogy, however Zachary Levi and Gina Rodriguez do make a really candy couple as Terrence and Nora Tango-Torrez. They smooch and swoon and function as a rock-solid spy couple made even higher by their precocious youngsters Patty (Everly Carganilla) and Tony (Connor Esterson) who’re the easiest of them. Levi and Rodriguez are fairly charming, although they’re merely secondary characters to the younger leads.

Rodriguez doesn’t spend a number of time increase their household dynamic, opting as an alternative to throw the viewers head-first into the thick of issues, and it really works in its favor. Particularly with the delicate hints and clues concerning the household, that are paid off within the last act in very enjoyable methods. With the kids front-and-center, the script lets Patty and Tony take the lead, fleshing out how the household operates by way of their snark, sibling drama, and emotions in the direction of their dad and mom. Rodriguez has all the time positioned his religion within the youngsters he casts in his movies and hasn’t been led astray but. He retains discovering proficient pint-sized actors who outshine and outfox their grownup counterparts.

The solid of fine guys is rounded out by D.J. Cotrona, who beforehand starred in Rodriguez’s short-lived From Nightfall Until Daybreak reboot sequence and reverse Levi within the Shazam! movies, who seems as OSS chief Devlin. There isn’t a lot to his character, by design, however Cotrona has unbelievable comedic timing, particularly when he’s being one-upped by Patty and Tony.

‘Armageddon’ Has Loads of Child-Pleasant Motion—With a Twist

There are two key items of expertise on the coronary heart of Spy Children: Armageddon’s plot—the Armageddon Code, which the Tango-Torrez household has possession of, and TK, the recent new online game taking on the world. Actually. A robust sport developer named Rey “The King” Kingston (Billy Magnussen) has noble intentions, however they’re completely obscured by his desperation to show that his sport can save the world if solely everybody would play it. It’s a really hokey and ill-contrived powerplay, but it surely’s completely on model with the kind of supervillains Rodriguez has crafted in his earlier Spy Children and Sharkboy and Lavagirl movies.

Spy Children: Armageddon is perhaps action-packed, however there’s nothing inherently violent concerning the battles that Patty and Tony become involved with. Positive, there are swords, shields, and axe-wielding skeletons, however they’re hardly actual threats to the kids, and people lowered stakes received’t detract from the thrills aimed on the youthful demographic watching. Mother and father would possibly discover themselves rolling their eyes at how simply the villains are undone—particularly when their undoing is kind of actually kindness, however that’s what has all the time made Rodriguez’s movies so compelling for his or her target market. Reasonably than pushing the visuals of ultra-violent fights, just like the video video games that impressed Armageddon’s big-bad, the movie opts to encourage youngsters to be good, be true, and hunt down restorative justice for his or her enemies.

Whereas nothing will ever examine to the hilarious concern that Thumb Thumbs instilled in a whole era, there’s one thing uniquely good about Rodriguez’s chosen villain in Armageddon—a tech boy gamer with daddy points who thinks he can save the world together with his online game techniques. With a brand new tech-fueled era to cater to, Rodriguez is wise to create a villainous situation that’s extra nebulous than previous Spy Children foes. It speaks to the goal demographic, who’re naturally gifted with video video games, in contrast to their grownup counterparts, even when additionally they performed video video games, as soon as upon a time.

The World Wants Extra Hopepunk Tales like ‘Spy Children: Armageddon’

Spy Children: Armageddon might by no means be the generation-defining cult basic that its predecessors have been, however it’s nonetheless a long-overdue return to an unparalleled universe. In Rodriguez’s world, hopepunk guidelines, and only a few storytellers really feel compelled to inform tales the place there’s unwavering optimism and hope for the longer term. The kids in his world would possibly inherit cool abilities from their dad and mom and be given unbelievable tech, however they all the time handle to save lots of the day by way of their very own innate skills and the knowledge that comes with viewing the world by way of the eyes of a kid. It’s a uncommon and delightful factor amidst a cinematic panorama stuffed with nihilism, superheroes, and a must be linked to highly effective names.

As long as you aren’t anticipating a masterpiece, Spy Children: Armageddon proves itself as a enjoyable, spy romp, the place youngsters are king and oldsters are merely alongside for the trip. It’s childhood wish-fulfillment to the acute, straight all the way down to attending to reside out online game fantasies and one-hit wonders. It achieves precisely what it units out to be, even when the street to that success is lined with goofy, cartoonish villains, simple wins, and too-smart youngsters saving the day.

Grade: B

The Huge Image

Spy Children: Armageddon is a nostalgic return to the Spy Children universe, with hopepunk themes and a concentrate on familial bonds and the ability of kids. The movie encompasses a new solid of characters and a brand new storyline, disconnected from the earlier Spy Children franchise. The action-packed movie has lowered stakes for the younger protagonists, encouraging kindness and restorative justice as an alternative of violent fights, interesting to its youthful demographic.

Spy Children: Armageddon is now streaming on Netflix.

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