04 September 2005

The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D (Dimension Films, 2005)

In the world of make believe, a boy (Taylor Lautner) is raised by sharks. He grows gills, razor teeth, a fin out of his back. Lavagirl (Taylor Dooley) is borne of Lava and the volcanoes. They are both the creation of an imaginative introverted boy, Max (Cayden Boyd). Along with Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Max has invented a whole world—planet Drool; the Land of Milk and Cookies; the villain Mr. Electric (George Lopez)—much to the chagrin of his teacher (the alter-ego of George Lopez); and his parents (David Arquette and Kristin Davis); and his schoolmates. Max keeps all of his imaginings in a little notebook. When the school bully steals Max’s book, he is crushed. Sharkboy and Lavagirl come to the rescue. They need that book of dreams for them to exist. From there, we are launched into the dizzying world of 3-D.The movie is almost wholly digital and CGI. Virtually every shot has CGI and 70% of the movie takes place on the other side of cardboard 3-D glasses. It doesn’t look good. Rodriguez has a flare for color. His Spykids movies are brilliant bursts on the screen. Sin City has gouts of color. 3-D needs to make half of the things blue; and half of the things red. Every other color is a square peg in a round hole. The end result is a washed out grey that occasionally flies out from the screen. It’s a gimmick that makes a weak movie weaker.
Kids are imaginative. Kids are great. Kids are full of wonder. Should they pen screenplays or plots for big budget Hollywood features? No. No, they shouldn’t. I am confident that Rodriguez’ progeny, Racer, could become a talented filmmakers in his own right: he gets to learn at the feet of one of the best directors alive. But he’s not there yet. Sharkboy and Lavagirl is the polar opposite of Sin City. While Sin City is dark, purposely repugnant, gory, forced into the two dimensional world of comics books but ultimately fascinating. Sharkboy is cotton candy bright, syrupy sweet and tricks its way into the third dimension. Worst of all: it’s a boring exercise in wish fulfillment, coming from the “Maybe it was all a dream” school of story writing.
Enough about my opinion: this was movie made by adults from a child’s imagination. How does a child feel about this movie? I took my four-year old. So far, she has been a good indicator of the staying power of a film. Finding Nemo (from two years ago), she quotes ad infinitum. The Incredibles from 2004 is still near and dear. Sharkboy, the most recent movie she has seen of the three is a forgotten puff of smoke and light.

Buy Shark Boy and Lava Girl on DVD

No comments: