Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The Blu-ray for the first movie could be a bit iffy, but the sequel delivered more effective visuals.
Shot digitally, Kids looked good across the board. Sharpness seemed solid most of the time. A few shots – usually those connected to effects – could appear a little soft. However, those weren’t a problem, as the majority of the flick was accurate and concise. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and source effects were absent. Due to the digital format used for the movie, it suffered from no forms of source defects, though I discerned some artifacting related to the computer-generated effects.
Colors seemed excellent. The movie presented vivid and lively hues that matched the cartoony action of Kids. I saw no issues related to bleeding, noise or other problems during this concise and vibrant palette. Black levels also came across as deep and dense, while shadow detail looked appropriately heavy but not overly opaque. The minor concerns kept Spy Kids 2 from perfection, but it still looked terrific the vast majority of the time.
In addition, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Spy Kids 2 presented a fine experience. The soundfield worked very well and added a lot to the film. Audio moved nicely across all five channels, and the different speakers displayed a lot of activities throughout the entire movie. Music demonstrated solid stereo imaging, and effects were placed appropriately in the spectrum. They transitioned neatly between speakers, and the surrounds added a good level of involvement to the package. The many action sequences gave the track an opportunity to shine, and the mix created a fairly seamless and involving piece. Some of the best sequences appeared early via the rides at the amusement park, but the movie’s many action scenes also contributed involving pieces.
Audio quality also seemed positive for the most part. Though dialogue remained clear and intelligible, speech appeared somewhat stiff at times. This was a major concern during the first film, but here it came across as less severe and it didn’t strongly affect my impression of the soundtrack. Music sounded terrific across the board. The score seemed bright and dynamic, especially in the way it conveyed excellent depth and power. Highs also came across as clean and distinct. Effects were accurate and vivid, as they lacked any issues related to distortion and also showed fine bass response. Low-end seemed tight and rich. Ultimately, the audio of Spy Kids 2 seemed very positive.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the original DVD from 2002? Audio was a bit more robust, and visuals demonstrated good improvements. The Blu-ray was tighter, brighter and more vivid.
The disc offers most of the same extras as the DVD. We start with a very brisk audio Commentary with director Robert Rodriguez. He offers a running, sporadically screen-specific piece and rarely comes up for air. This track may contain more information per minute than any other commentary I’ve heard.
Especially at the start, Rodriguez spoke so quickly that I started to laugh after a while; he seemed so excited and full of details that he really tore through the movie. Almost no empty spaces occur, so when one does pop up, it comes as a shock.
Rodriguez goes over just about everything you could want to know about the flick, or at least as much as he can fit into a 100-minute movie. He chats about his inspiration for the story, working with the actors, functioning as editor, composer and cinematographer as well as writer and director, and about a million other issues.
Rodriguez attempts to educate us how to make movies on our own and offers lots of tips for filmmaking – those elements dominate the commentary, which may frustrate some who wanted a more screen-focused affair. However, Rodriguez covers so much that I felt very satisfied. He even plays us some demo tracks of music! Rodriguez provides a simply terrific commentary that speedily informs us about zillions of issues, and it works very well.
Technically, it only clocks in at nine minutes and 56 seconds. Anal nitpicking aside, the Ten Minute Film School offers a cool look at Kids 2. Essentially it features behind the scenes and different levels of effects footage paired with commentary from Rodriguez. We see those elements as the director relates how he accomplished them on the cheap. It’s a nice examination of the cost-saving methods he utilized, and it helps illustrate his filmmaking processes.
For something a little more traditional, we go to A New Kind of Stunt Kid. This six minute and 42 second program offers some film clips, shots from the set, and interviews with Rodriguez, actors Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, and Matt O’Leary, and an unnamed stunt coordinator. (The program never specifically tells us the identities of any participants, but obviously I recognized the ones I mentioned.) The discussion of the stunts seems a little dry, as mostly the kids tell us how awesome it was, but the cool behind the scenes material makes this one more useful.
Next we find a collection of eight lost scenes. These last a total of eight minutes. They contain some interesting bits, but none of them seem particularly interesting. More compelling is the optional director’s commentary. Still manic, Rodriguez tells us lots of good notes about the shots and also relates why he cut each of them.
In the cutesy vein we get the “Isle of Dreams” music video. Performed by Alexa Vega, this three-minute and 33-second clip essentially shows the sequence from the end credits minus the text plus some extraneous movie clips. It’s moderately fun.
Aimed more at the kids in the audience, School at Big Bend National Park takes us on a tour of that location. Introduced by Alexa Vega, the four-minute and 59-second piece shows some of the cast and crew as they tour the park along with archaeologist Tom C. Alex. It adds a little information but doesn’t seem particularly thrilling. Oddly, it looks like actors O’Leary and Emily Osment retain their dirty make-up from the camel dung scene.
The next featurette is called Essential Gear: The Gadgets of Spy Kids. It runs three minutes, 16 seconds and mostly mixes movie clips with sound bites from Rodriguez and actors Osment, Taylor Momsen, Chris MacDonald, Sabara, Danny Trejo, and Ricardo Montalban. The director tells us what inspired his design for the spy watch, but otherwise “Gadgets” exists just as an excuse to show some film snippets and have the actors tell us how cool the different things are.
After this we get six Behind-the-Scenes Montages: “Costa Rica” (one minute, 48 seconds), “Cliff Stunt” (2:20), “Inflate-a-Suit” (0:58), “Spy Gala” (2:57), “Theme Park” (2:30), and “Romero’s Hideaway” (1:33). These snippets offer exactly what the title states: videotaped pieces shot on the set. Mostly we see this candid footage, but we also get a few impromptu soundbites from actors Vega and Sabara plus assorted crewmembers. While nothing tremendously interesting arises, these bits do offer a reasonably nice glimpse of the production.
A promotional feature, Total Access 24/7: A Day in the Life of Spy Kids offers a 21-minute and 38-second examination of the movie. The program offers the usual mélange of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear formal soundbites from Rodriguez, and actors Vega, O’Leary, Sabara, Mike Judge, and Steve Buscemi. In addition, some impromptu comments from others appear throughout the piece. Much of “Day” follows the standard format, but it becomes more interesting because it focuses on the life of a child actor. Granted, it remains relentlessly puffy and cutesy, but it’s still kind of cool to examine this other side of things.
The disc opens with ads for Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, Alpha and Omega, Battle for Terra, and Thor: Tales of Asgard. These also appear under Trailers, and we get both the teaser and theatrical trailers for Spy Kids 2 as well.
A second disc provides a digital copy of Spy Kids 2. With this, you can place the movie on a computer or digital viewing device. Yeah!
While not on a par with the first movie, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams nonetheless provides a reasonably entertaining piece of work. The movie falters at times but it offers enough fun and excitement to merit a look. The Blu-ray features very good picture, audio and supplements. We find a pretty enjoyable flick and a high-quality release.
To rate this film, visit the original review of SPY KIDS 2: THE ISLAND OF LOST DREAMS