Spy Kids: Armageddon continues the strong themes of family laid down by the original trilogy and first reboot. Carganilla and Esterson have good chemistry as the two kids, and they are having a blast being Spy Kids. Zachary Levi is as charismatic as ever as Terrence/Dad. And Gina Rodriguez fits perfectly as a power-punching spy mom. Magnussen as Kingston is a Rodriguez-esque wacky villain and plays into the wackiness well. Some of the more villainous moments feel weak, needing a little more backstory early in the film, but liven up towards the finale.
“Carganilla and Esterson have good chemistry…”
Balancing throwbacks to the previous films and creating something new is a challenge many films face in the 2020s. Rodriguez and Racer Max manage these well, making a film that fits well within the Spy Kids universe. Sure, there are many cheesy and over-the-top moments, but this is from the director who brought us Sharkboy & Lava Girl and We Can Be Heroes. But it’s also why Rodriguez family comedies resonate with kids. It’s cheesy, campy, and ridiculous, but it’s pure fun. The film struggles to transition between the subsequent chase sequence or showdown; the message gets lost a few times, but themes of family and adventure run deep throughout every scene.
I love the original Spy Kids and especially Spy Kids 2. I’ve even argued that Robert Rodriguez is a great gateway director for kids. Show children Spy Kids when they are younger and give them Sin City, Planet Terror, or Desperado when they hit their teenage years. Give them El Mariachi if they are considering film school. Spy Kids: Armageddon feels at home in the franchise and legion of Rodriguez films. It has flaws, but none outweigh the enjoyment of the latest strange villain (though nothing can top thumb-thumbs for strange) being thwarted by the newest spy kids. The original films left kids with a sense of wonder, and while it does not entirely stack up to the original trilogy, this will still leave plenty of kids dreaming of slick gadgets and cool spy chases.
"…themes of family and adventure run deep throughout every scene."