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Spy Kids: Armageddon Review

Netflix's reboot of the Spy Kids franchise taps into nostalgia, offering a cheeky battle for world domination with fantastical tools.

The Spy Kids franchise holds a special place in the hearts of some late millennials, as it represents a cherished memory from their childhood. The movies, especially the original film released in 2001, were filled with whimsical and extravagant adventures, featuring exaggerated stakes and a futuristic vibe. For kids, Spy Kids, along with its 2002 sequel and 2003 3D edition, offered the ultimate fantasy with its array of cool gadgets and the portrayal of parents as international super spies, portrayed by Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino.

Netflix's reboot of the franchise, Spy Kids: Armageddon, directed by the original writer Robert Rodriguez, acknowledges the nostalgia it taps into, although it doesn't always fully capture it. However, that's not necessarily a requirement, as the 94-minute film is primarily aimed at children, just like the original.

Similar to its predecessor, the reboot is set in Austin, Texas, where the Tango-Torrez family lives seemingly ordinary lives in a technologically advanced home. Unbeknownst to their children, Terrence (played by Zachary Levi, who brings humor reminiscent of his Chuck days) and Nora (portrayed by Gina Rodriguez) are active super spies in possession of the Armageddon code, a powerful tool capable of hacking into any device in the world, or possibly even all of them simultaneously.

Tony and Patty, the children, simply want to play video games, but they are frustrated by their father's strict rules regarding technology. While their dad views their chosen video game as detrimental to their intellect, they see it as a form of training.

One interesting aspect that appeals to adults is the character of The King, the creator of the video game in question. He is a mercurial and power-hungry tech mogul, bearing a resemblance to Elon Musk, albeit in a parodic manner. The King desires the Armageddon code in order to force every operator and electronic device to play video games. Tony and Patty, being experts in the game, find themselves in the perfect position to uncover secret codes and confront the robotic video game villains unleashed by The King upon their household.

Thus, a playful and lighthearted battle for world domination ensues, filled with fantastical gadgets and primarily taking place within The King's retro video game castle, adorned with chunky, polygon-filled graphics. The OSS chief Devlin recognizes the kids' abilities and remarks, "Let them do what they do best: play games," as everyone dons the signature black shades. Even after more than two decades since the original film, Rodriguez maintains his talent for evoking a child's sense of adventure and absurdity, although the level of derangement found in Thumb Thumbs is absent here. Nonetheless, the fantasy of stepping into the shoes of a video game character and becoming the hero remains fully intact.

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