'Sharkboy and Lavagirl' has a lot of sins to answer for; chief among them is the callous flicking of the booger known as Taylor Lautner onto the windshield of Hollywood. After seeing the 'Twilight ' films you wonder how this kid ever became an actor (using a very loose definition of the word). Then you see 'Sharkboy and Lavagirl' and you're still dumbfounded. Nothing about this kid exuded any command of the screen or likability. He was just as bad as a kid as he is when he's playing a perpetually shirtless werewolf.
Sorry to go off on the Lautner tangent, but I just can't help but imagine if this movie was never made. Does he end up getting the 'Twilight' gig? Who knows? All I know is that the world would be better off if Robert Rodriguez stopped making movies to appease his children.
The beginning of the movie says it all: A Rodriguez Family Film. If he wants so bad to make movies for his kids, then keep them at home. Don't share them with the rest of the world. We like your R-rated movies, but when it comes to kiddie fare it's one green screen fiasco after another.
Max (Cayden Boyd) is a dork. He's picked on at school and openly carries something he calls a Dream Journal around with him. It reminded me of J.D. from 'Scrubs' who has a journal emblazoned with a unicorn on the front that "guards [his] hopes and dreams." Bad news Max, kids are cruel. If you carry a Dream Journal around with you at school you're going to get made fun of, that's just how the world works.
During the first day of class, after summer is over, Max regales his classmates with a far-fetched story about meeting a kid who was half shark and half boy and a girl who can shoot lava out of her hands. They live on the planet Drool. The kid is just asking for ridicule.
Soon, however, Max is whisked off by his not-so-imaginary (or are they?) friends to the planet Drool in order to save it from the evil Mr. Electric. I have always pictured George Lopez as a villain of comedy so he's right at home as an unfunny bad guy who chases down Sharkboy, Lavagirl, and Max with CG extension cords (seriously).
One of the biggest problems with 'Sharkboy and Lavagirl' is that it feels so half-assed. The CG animation looks and feels like it was made on the same budget crappy Saturday morning CG cartoons work with. It's so hokey and dumb looking that it hurts the eyes just to look at it.
Halfway through you realize that there's no reason to care for Max, his super friends or anything that they're doing. Apparently this is some kind of inside joke or story that Rodriguez has shared with his kids and it most likely means much more to them than it does to us. There's nothing adventurous or fun about this movie. It skips around frantically from one plot point to another as the movie's characters recite dialogue full of bad puns.
There's nothing here that is worthwhile for kids or interesting enough to keep parents involved. There are so many other space-themed shows that both parents and kids would enjoy together, 'Zathura ' comes to mind. Don't go anywhere near 'Sharkboy and Lavagirl.' It's safer for your sanity if you just stay away.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This Miramax title is distributed by Lionsgate. It's been pressed onto a 25-GB Blu-ray Disc. The dis is housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase. The back of the disc case indicates that it's a Region A only release.
Personally, I'm not all too thrilled with the video presentation here. Shot in HD the movie never approaches a filmic look. The entire movie looks like a low-budget action-adventure kid's show you'd find on early Saturday morning.
It's true that the movie features a wide variety of colors. From the bright pink of Lavagirl's hair, to the dark grays and blacks of Mr. Electric's domain, the movie features just about every color you can think of. It does a good job rendering those colors, even though after a while the sheer number of them becomes an overload on the eyes. Fine detail on faces and such looks good, but isn't ever as intricate or stunning as some of the demo discs we've seen so far this year.
What really holds this video transfer back is that HD really has a way of making sub-par CG look even worse, and boy does it look bad here. The green screen effects look and feel cheap. The worst being the way Mr. Electric looks with the faded ugly picture of George Lopez floating in what appears to be a giant fishbowl. All the green screen work here looks like something you could see on 'Power Rangers.' Most of the time it's just sad.
The audio does a much better job than the video presentation. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is smooth and richly detailed. The surrounds are alive with action as Sharkboy and Lavagirl fight off nasty, barking plugs and blood-thirsty extension cords.
LFE chimes in on more than a few occasions. When the group of them sees Max's mom and dad as giants, who start lumbering towards them, the low-end thumps become quite pronounced and resonant. Dialogue is always clear and concise even during Sharkboy's terrible song and dance number.
Panning effects work smoothly as people or objects fly from one end of the soundfield to the other. Mr. Electric's voice has a nice, omniscient echo to it that makes him seem even more powerful. In short the audio mix is the best thing about this entire release.
I'm simply not the audience for 'Sharkboy and Lavagirl.' Although, considering the large amount of inanity the movie contains, there's not much reason why I'd ever want my kid to watch it. There are plenty of other kid-tastic adventures out there that aren't so silly and nonsensical. For fans, however, the video is serviceable (if you're a fan you'll more than likely like the hokey special effects more than I did) and the audio is commendable. There's also a neat commentary to listen to if you do indeed get that far. This movie really is for fans only.