A/V Room









Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over - It was really cool to see Stallone have that much fun on set

Feature by: Jack Foley

FOR anyone who remembers the hassle of watching Jaws 3-D in a darkened cinema, with a goofy pair of spectacles, the prospect of viewing the latest Spy Kids adventure in 3-D may seem a little off-putting.

Yet, contrary to initial scepticism, Robert Rodriguez’s third film in the franchise makes for great family viewing; a sentiment echoed in the film’s massive American Box Office, where it opened in number one, ahead of Lara Croft’s latest Tomb Raider adventure, over the July 25 weekend.

It is a film which uses the latest developments in technology to its advantage, with the 3-D feeling like less of a gimmick, and more of an integral part of the story.

"I saw 3-D when I was a kid, when they re-released House of Wax, and remember going to the theatre and getting this different experience," he told me at a London press conference, held at The Dorchester Hotel, earlier this week.

"I remember hearing the audience scream, because things seemed to be coming out of the camera. Kids had never got that experience before, and there really hadn't been a family movie that everyone could go see, that utilised the technology.

"Back then, movies were using 3-D as just a gimmick; sort of almost like an after-thought. There was no real point to it. It was almost as if the studio said, 'what movie are you making? Oh, while you're at it, make it 3-D'.

"I think people's remembrance of 3-D is bad stories and then, on top of it, the 3-D wasn't really very good. People just sort of remember it as a failure on all levels."

Rather than just throwing things at the audience occasionally, however, Rodriguez made the decision to use it as a device to ‘really pull the audience into the screen’, to give them a different kind of adventure.

"You really go to a movie to be transported into the movie, but usually, you're sitting there, just looking at the screen, like a spectator," he explained.

"I used 3-D to draw the audience in, so that when a character puts on the glasses, the audience puts on the glasses, and they are in the world with them. That can be as close to a virtual reality experience as you can get."

The idea seems to have gone down a storm, not only with audiences, but also with actors - who seem to have been lining up to make cameo appearances.

Aside from Spy Kids regular, Antonio Banderas, who plays the children’s father, the likes of Salma Hayek, Bill Paxton and Steve Buscemi also return, while there are first-time outings for Sylvester Stallone, as the villain, Elijah Wood and George Clooney.

Stallone, it seems, had been earmarked for a role in one of the Spy Kids films ever since it was first pitched as an idea.

"He was in the room when I pitched it to Bob Weinstein," revealed Rodriguez.

"I met Stallone that day, in 1997, when he was at the Copland premiere and spent most of that day hanging out with him. He had me laughing all the time. I was always a fan, but I didn't know how funny, generally, he was in person.

"I remember, the impression being that I wanted to work with him, some day, not in an action movie, but in a comedy.

"Years later, I was making Spy Kids 3 and I thought this was the time to call Stallone and offered him five roles, all comedic, and something his kids can see; because his kids can't see any of his other movies - they think he's a professional golfer."

The ensuing collaboration was one which both enjoyed, and Rodriguez was keen to talk up how keen Stallone was to get into the spirit of all of his characters.

"He really got into it, I mean every day he was in a different costume, and trying to figure out what to do. He brought a lot of ideas and it was really cool to see him have that much fun on the set."

As for Clooney, who had previously worked with Rodriguez on From Dusk Til Dawn, the actor didn’t realise he was in the movie until receiving a call from the director halfway through filming.

"I’d already written him into the script, without telling him he was in it," he confessed. "So when I knew he was back in town, in March, I called him and said 'do you know you're in Spy Kids 3', and he said 'I am?', and I said, 'yeah, you play the president', and he said 'I do?' And it was like 'when can I come and film you?' He said, 'well I should have some time in May...' And I said 'how about Monday?'

"I just told him I had my HD camera, I could go along to his living room, set up the camera, do the microphone and the off-camera dialogue, and that he didn’t even have to wear pants.... So he came down without his pants, he was just wearing shorts, to show that he could."

Elijah Wood’s appearance was orchestrated in a similar fashion…

"He came to visit the set in April, and I said 'by the way, you're The Guy'," continued Rodriguez, referring to his role in the film. "I told him that I was going to shoot him like the opposite of Lord of the Rings. He'd be the tallest guy in the room for a change."

It is clear from spending time with Rodriguez that he is a fun guy to hang out with and when he describes himself as, basically, a ‘12-year-old’, you kind of believe him.

His films consistently appeal to the boy inside every man - whether it’s Desperado, or Spy Kids - and his enthusiasm for movie-making translates well to the screen.

As he stated at the press conference: "Every movie I've made is sort of fantasy. People send me draft dramatic scripts, and I read about half of them and think, I don't want to make this. I don't know why.

"Movie-making is such a falsehood; you've got lights and actors; recreating reality just seems so phoney. I like watching those kind of movies, but I wouldn't want to make them."

As such, Rodriguez always conceives his ideas in terms of a franchise, believing that it helps to create a much richer story. Spy Kids, itself, remains a trilogy, while the Desperado series will come to a close later this year, with Once Upon A Time in Mexico.

"If you think of something in terms of a franchise, even if you don't make another one, that one story is going to be a really rich story," he asserts.

"For instance, the first Spy Kids movie actually ends with them becoming spies, which gives the characters somewhere to go.

"So, if you can imagine other movies, whether you make them or not, audiences love the feeling that characters have gone through a big change. They can almost imagine the next movies, whether I make them or not."

As for the Spy Kids series, Rodriguez insists this will be the final part of the franchise, because it means he can end on a high.

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