Spy Kids: Armageddon movie review (2023)

Spy Kids: Armageddon movie review (2023)

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Spy Kids: Armageddon movie review (2023)
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But families deserve better than the cheap-looking and cloying reboot of the franchise, “Spy Kids: Armageddon,” now streaming on Netflix and playing theatrically in limited release. It’s more of the same, without any discernible improvement in quality, despite the massive technological leaps over the past two decades. Rodriguez’s original claim to fame was his ability to accomplish a lot with a little, wearing various hats at once. Here, he once again serves as director and co-writer (alongside the grown-up Racer Max) as well as producer, cinematographer, and editor. The result is a movie that will appeal only to very young kids; even for that audience, there are too many preferable options.

“Spy Kids: Armageddon” has the exact same premise as the first movie in the series: The parents are secretly spies, and when the kids find out, they have to spring into action and save the day. Zachary Levi and Gina Rodriguez step in for Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino as new characters, Terrence Tango and Nora Torrez. From their hidden lair inside the family’s sleekly modernist glass-and-steel home (the coolest part of the movie, by far), Terrence and Nora tinker with an all-powerful Armageddon code. While playing his favorite video game, their son, Tony (Connor Esterson), inadvertently unleashes the code to brilliant tech billionaire Rey “The King” Kingston (a weirdly bland Billy Magnussen), who plans to use it for nefarious purposes. Now it’s time for the eager Tony and his smart-alecky sister, Patty (Everly Carganilla), to spring into action and save the day and the world. Levi and Rodriguez seem as bored by the material as we are, while the young actors do their best to bring enthusiasm to their banal banter.

There is exactly one clever idea in this movie: That the code becomes a virus requiring people throughout the globe to play a video game to fulfill mundane tasks like taking money out of the ATM. Mostly, “Spy Kids: Armageddon” alternates between frantic slapstick antics and people standing around explaining things to each other. Chintzy green-screen effects turn something as simple as a car chase down Austin’s Congress Avenue into a distracting mess. The lighting often has a flat sameness, regardless of the situation. Because this is a spy movie, there are, of course, gadgets galore, but even those aren’t terribly inspired. A bit involving giant fly swatters quickly grows repetitive, for example. And the whole endeavor feels about 20 minutes too long, with no compelling sense of pacing. The action drags, and then all of a sudden, it’s chaos.


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Spy Kids: Armageddon movie review (2023)

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