Cold Mountain

Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Vega. Directed by Robert Rodriquez
Running Time: 84 mins

The unexpected success of Spy Kids meant that a sequel was inevitable. It followed very quickly. This next sequel has also followed very quickly but it has an added gimmick: 3D. Because audiences have to wear special glasses, they have found it annoying or irritating. Director Robert Rodriguez has been shrewd in this regard and has actor Alan Cumming explaining to the audience at the beginning of the film when to wear them and when to take them off - and a sign comes on to the screen just in case we didn't realise. By drawing attention to the glasses and their effect, he has made us happier to wear them.

The centre of the story this time is Juni, played by Daryl Sabara. Having retired from spy activities, he is called back into action to combat the arch-villain, The Toymaker, who has invented a computer game that is unbeatable, Game Over. Juni's sister, Carmen, is now trapped in the game and Juni has to rescue her and defeat the Toymaster. The 3D effect is for watching the computer game.

On paper, it must have seemed a wonderful idea to have Sylvester Stallone as The Toymaster, to make him a villain and a comic at the same time. He may get away with it with young audiences, but his performance (along with characters based on other parts of his personality) seems very awkwardly less than funny. Much more effective is Ricardo Montalban who has a big role as Grandpa, the previous colleague of The Toymaker and then his victim. Juni is assisted along the way by a group of kids who enjoy their opportunity to be inside the computer game. Better still is that everyone from the previous movies is called in to help: parents, grandparents, friends, which makes it a happy reunion of all who worked on the series.

Fr Peter Malone MSC is the International President of SIGNIS: the World Association for Catholic Communications and an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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