The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3D

on June 10, 2005 by Annlee Ellingson
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Robert Rodriguez has forged a prolific and diverse career by alternating between family-friendly and decidedly adult fare. Best known for two disparate trilogies, the director-writer-producer-cinematographer-edit or helmed both the ultra-violent "El Mariachi" triptych about a gun-slinging guitarist and the Bond-lite "Spy Kids" series about a family of 007s. Now Rodriguez follows the gruesome "Sin City" with Saturday-morning trifle "Sharkboy and Lavagirl" -- two superheroes first conceived in the imagination of his seven-year-old son.

An outcast bullied by the kids at school, 10-year-old Max (Cayden Boyd) finds respite in his dreams, where he befriends a boy with razor-sharp teeth, gills and fins and a girl who shoots flames and red-hot rocks from her hands. Both his parents and his teacher scold Max to focus on reality -- that is, until Sharkboy and Lavagirl (Taylors Lautner and Dooley, the latter a baby Jessica Alba who smiles sunshine) fetch Max to help them rescue Planet Doom from an encroaching darkness.

Like in 2003, when "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over" came out within months of "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," "SBLG" follows closely on the heels of "Sin City." Unfortunately, perhaps as a result of such a frenetic rate of output, the production's seams are beginning to show. Clearly Rodriguez and his brood reveled in the details, designing an adventure that has Max and his superhero pals catching the Train of Thought, crossing the Stream of Consciousness and traversing the Sea of Confusion while swapping insults like "hothead" and "cold fish." But, whereas "Sin City" slickly revolutionized digital filmmaking, "SBLG" suffers from sloppy storytelling, unpolished special effects and a didactic message. Moreover, while the novelty boy- and girl-themed cardboard 3-D glasses are fun -- and worn only during the dream sequences -- the 3-D images are dim and the colors are dark. Starring Taylor Lautner, Taylor Dooley, Cayden Boyd, George Lopez, David Arquette and Kristin Davis. Directed by Robert Rodriguez. Written by Robert Rodriguez and Marcel Rodriguez. Produced by Elizabeth Avellan and Robert Rodriguez. A Dimension release. Family/Action/Adventure. Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor. Running time: 94 min

Tags: Taylor Lautner, Taylor Dooley, Cayden Boyd, George Lopez, David Arquette and Kristin Davis. Directed by Robert Rodriguez. Written by Robert Rodriguez and Marcel Rodriguez. Produced by Elizabeth Avellan and Robert Rodriguez. A Dimension release. Family/Action/Adventure, darkness, adventure, ultra-violent, family
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