Sunday, 28 September 2014

Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl (2005)

This is one of the most aggressively 3D movies I've seen.  By that I mean that it has a lot of scenes and sequences that are clearly designed with the 3D format in mind.  Naturally, a lot of those scenes and sequences involve things flying out at you (including in one memorable case a CGI brain which actually "hits" the camera lens and then slides down the screen).

Now I'm no fan of 3D, and watched this movie in its 2D version, but I understand the decision to make the feature a focus of the film.  For one thing, it's aimed at a pretty young audience, and they're more likely to find the "in your face" element appealing.  For another, the story's rather slight and the visual gimmickry might help distract from that.

Max is a geeky loner at school, teased by the other kids for keeping a dream journal and talking about his imaginary friends Sharkboy and Lavagirl as if they are real.  He's also having a tough time at home since it seems his parents - in a barely there subplot that gets resolved in about five seconds later in the film - are having problems with their marriage.

As Max endures another terrible day at school, a hurricane blows up.  But riding out of it come Sharkboy and Lavagirl!  They take him with them to their home planet, where things have gone terribly awry: the planet runs on Max's dreams, but lately all those dreams are turning into nightmares.  The trio will have to traverse the world's puntacular geography (including taking a ride on the Train of Thought and swimming the Stream of Consciousness) in order to find and thwart the evil-doer who is ruining everything.

There are some fun elements to this film, and it's cool that writer/director Robert Rodriguez has developed his script from a story originally dreamed up by his then 7-year-old son, but he probably should have spent a bit more time on that development.  The film has a tendency to tell, not show, and most elements feel pro forma in their execution.  Scenes that are probably supposed to be big stirring moments just don't have the 'oomph' I would expect of a properly refined script.

Now Rodriguez plays pretty fast and loose with the script in say Spy Kids as well, but that still feels a bit more polished (and the puns are much cleverer - I'll forgive a lot for a clever pun).

Seek this out only if you have little ones you need to keep entertained, and even then I think you've got a lot of better options.

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