Spy Kids: Armageddon Review: Mind-Numbing Children’s Entertainment
Children’s films are always a challenge to review. How can I, a grown man, objectively assess the quality of a film that was not made for me? I will try my best. Spy Kids: Armageddon It is the fifth film in the long-running Spy Kids franchise by Robert Rodriguez. This time, Rodriguez goes with the Cortez family that we followed in the first four films. We’re in full reboot mode with another set of kids joining the OSS to become spies.
If I had to analyze this film objectively, it is a poorly written, visually unappealing film that only caters to young children. Which isn’t automatically a bad thing, but we’ll get there. It’s no secret that Rodriguez makes Spy Kids movies for his kids. The original trilogy is a source of nostalgia for many people who watched it as a child. I watched them recently, and even enjoyed them. Parts of these films still stand, and it is said that Rodriguez is now making Spy Kids: Armageddon with his children, who worked on the script and the musical score for the film. Rodriguez has a special place in his heart for Spy Kids, but ever since that original trilogy, he’s been unable to crack the code. Spy Kids: Armageddon is a combination of everything we’ve seen before, but worse.
The premise is more like the original Spy Kids movie and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over! It recycles the formula of the first film, where a brother and sister discover that their parents are traitors and must team up to rescue their kidnapped parents. However, instead of a children’s show, the plot revolves around a video game that occupies almost every screen on Earth. Our spy family must work together to stop the developer, The King (Billy Magnussen), from taking over the world. This feels like a weak attempt to adapt these classic films for today’s times while losing the charm that made the original three work.
We have the “saved parents” story from the first one, the skeleton battles from Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, the video games of Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, and a reset of the word “armageddon” from Spy Kids: All the time in the world. This is what’s left of the recycled franchise, offering nothing new to say besides giving you another adventure with another sibling. Oh, and one of them is good at drag. Because of course they are. Spy Kids: Armageddon repackages what we’ve already seen in a shiny, 2023 cover.
Let’s talk about the casting this time. I find it interesting that Spy Kids: All the Time in the World is Rodriguez’s first attempt to breathe new life into the series with a new brother-sister duo. However, since that film failed, we have another brother-sister duo that cannot replace the chemistry of Carmen and Juni Cortez. The characters feel like archetypes, with Tony (Connor Eterson) as the rule breaker and Patty (Everly Carganilla) as the straighter one. The chemistry, charm, and banter aren’t nearly as strong as what we saw in the original series. When you reboot a franchise with new faces, that chemistry makes or breaks it.
We also have Zachary Levi and Gina Rodriguez as the new parents. Levi pulls from his usual bag of tricks as a charming adult with a few childlike qualities. He’s charismatic in the role, and Rodriguez fits the role well, but heart and soul are missing from the middle of this film. We get bits of what made the original Spy Kids fun, like the gadgets and the action. However, most of the action is pretty forgettable, all blending together to the point where you don’t remember many of the images. The final action sequence looks like a ripoff of the Battle of Mustafar from Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
There is no ambiguity in the writing either. It’s not quite as bad as the 2011 sequel, where almost every line of dialogue had the word “time”. However, Spy Kids: Armageddon deals with the themes of lying and honesty. This movie gets really preachy about its messages that honesty is the best policy and that you can solve problems without violence. While it’s great that kids get these messages, the performance is weak. Kids deserve great, well-written movies just as much as adults. The best thing I can say about this movie is that since the 2001 movie might be outdated to kids, they might enjoy a more modern take on the premise. The children will probably have a lot of fun watching this movie. After all, they are the target demographic. But objectively, this is a derivative, uninspired sequel that doesn’t hold a candle to the originals.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 3 equals “Bad.” Because of the important issues, this media feels like a chore to take in.