Children’s movies are always a challenge to review. How do I, an adult man, reasonably assess the quality of a movie not made for me? I’ll try my best. Spy Kids: Armageddon is the fifth movie in Robert Rodriguez’s long-running Spy Kids franchise. This time, Rodriguez does away with the Cortez family we followed in the first four movies. We’re in full reboot mode with another set of kids joining the O.S.S. to become spies.
If I were to analyze this movie objectively, it’s a poorly written, visually unappealing movie that is only catered to young children. Which isn’t automatically a bad thing, but we’ll get there. It’s no secret that Rodriguez makes the Spy Kids movies for his children. The original trilogy is a source of nostalgia for many people who watched it as a kid. I watched them recently, and even I found enjoyment in them. Parts of those movies still hold up, and it’s poetic that Rodriguez is now making Spy Kids: Armageddon with his children, who worked on the script and the musical score for the film. There’s a special place in Rodriguez’s heart for Spy Kids, but ever since that original trilogy, he cannot seem to crack the code. Spy Kids: Armageddon is an amalgamation of everything we’ve seen before, but worse.
The premise most closely resembles the original Spy Kids movie and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over! It recycles the formula of the first movie, where a brother and sister find out their parents are spies and they must team up to save their kidnapped parents. However, instead of a children’s show, the plot surrounds a video game that has populated nearly 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 at adapting those classic films for a modern era while losing the charm that made the original three work.
We have the “saving parents” storyline 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 an overfixation on the word “armageddon” from Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. This is the recycled leftovers of the franchise, offering nothing new to say besides giving you another adventure with another brother and sister. Oh, and one of them is good at hacking. Because of course they are. Spy Kids: Armageddon repackages what we’ve already seen in a glossy, 2023 casing.
Let’s talk about the cast this time around. I find it interesting that Spy Kids: All the Time in the World was Rodriguez’s first attempt at giving the series new life with a new brother-sister duo. However, since that movie failed, we have yet another brother-sister duo that cannot replace the chemistry of Carmen and Juni Cortez. The characters feel like archetypes, with Tony (Connor Esterson) being the rule-breaker and Patty (Everly Carganilla) as the more straightlaced one. The chemistry, charm, and banter are not nearly as strong as what we saw in the original trilogy. When rebooting a franchise with fresh faces, that chemistry makes or breaks it.
We also have Zachary Levi and Gina Rodriguez as the new parents. Levi is pulling from his typical bag of tricks as a charming adult with a few childlike qualities. He’s charismatic in the role, and Rodriguez is perfectly acceptable in her role, but there’s a heart and soul that’s missing from the center of this movie. We get pieces of what made the original Spy Kids movie 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 much of the imagery. The final action sequence resembles a ripoff of the Battle of Mustafar from Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
There’s also no subtlety in the writing. It’s not quite as bad as the 2011 sequel, where nearly every line of dialogue contained the word “time.” However, Spy Kids: Armageddon tackles themes of lying and honesty. This film gets super preachy about its messages that honesty is the best policy and you can solve problems without violence. While it’s good that children get these messages, the execution is weak. Children deserve great, well-written movies just as much as adults do. The best thing I can say about this movie is that since kids may find the 2001 film outdated, they might enjoy a more modern take on the premise. The kids will likely have a lot of fun watching this movie. After all, they are the target demographic. But objectively, this is a derivative, uninspired sequel that does not hold a candle to the originals.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 3 equates to “Bad.” Due to significant issues, this media feels like a chore to take in.