THE ADVENTURES OF SHARKBOY AND LAVAGIRL IN 3-D
Robert Rodriguez advertises The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D as A Rodriguez Family Film. Besides Rodriguez taking a mere six jobs this time director, cinematographer, editor, visual effects supervisor, co-writer, co-composer and sound re-recording mixer he employs his brother Marcel as co-writer, his wife Elizabeth Avellan as producer and places three of his sons in the cast. Most of all, the idea for The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D is based on dreams by Rodriguezs seven year-old son Racer Max (one might note that the dreamer hero of the story is also named Max).
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D was critically panned in the US, but contrarily one rather liked it. It is not a particularly great film but Robert Rodriguez shows the same appealingly surreal imagination that he did in the Spy Kids films. There are some bizarre creations the electrical villain and his menagerie of Plughounds, which are exactly like they sound electrical plugs baying on the ends of leashes; giant centurions fashioned out of ice cubes; the concept of a Banana Split Boat; or a scene where the characters end up in the Land of Milk and Cookies and float down a river of milk on giant-sized cookies. For a childrens film, Rodriguez gives The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl an appealingly imaginative almost meta-fictional undertow, populating it with literalisations of various psychological doublespeak terms a journey down the Stream of Consciousness to the Sea of Confusion; the heroes jumping aboard the Train of Thought, which is driverless and prone to going off track; and a visit to The Valley of Forgotten Dreams.
At times, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D is not unlike The Neverending Story (1984), which likewise took place in a fantasy land that existed inside a book that was being read and interacted with by its child reader, while here the film takes place in a science-fictional/fantasy realm that has been dreamed into existence from the central characters imagination. Some elements in Sharkboy and Lavagirl have been borrowed directly from The Neverending Story like the concept of The Darkness, which stands in for the death of the dreaming imagination and is devouring the fantastical land, and the need to obtain a magical talisman from a princess in order to save the world.
On the minus side, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D seems rough around the edges. Robert Rodriguez is certainly a director who has embraced visual effects technology and lists himself as Visual Effects Supervisor on most of his films nowadays. Alas, the visual effects in his films are nothing special they seem rushed and tend to look obviously like CGI effects, especially so in these two 3-D outings. Despite bringing in some nine visual effects houses, the world of The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D seems no more than pretty eye candy and feels more like you are travelling through the terrain of a videogame.
Cayden Boyd fails to make much distinction in the central role of Max. Taylor Lautner (who only three years later would find heartthrob status in the Twilight films) has a surly presence as Sharkboy, although Taylor Dooley has an effectively resolute strength as Lavagirl.
Robert Rodriguezs other films of genre interest are the vampire/getaway thriller From Dusk Till Dawn (1996); the witty teen body snatchers film The Faculty (1998); the juvenile spy adventure Spy Kids (2001) and sequels Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002), Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003) and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (2011); the graphic novel adaptation/film noir pastiche Sin City (2005) and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014); the zombie film Planet Terror (2007), half of the Quentin Tarantino collaboration Grindhouse (2007); the childrens film Shorts (2009); and Machete Kills (2013), a sequel to his earlier Mexican-themed action film that frequently enters into science-fiction territory. Rodriguez has also produced From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999), From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangmans Daughter (2000) and Predators (2010), as well as developed the tv series From Dusk Till Dawn (2014 ).