Lara Croft, Spy Kids Raid Theaters

The effects-filled summer continues as two action-packed thrill rides debut in theaters today, one based on a popular video game and the other taking place inside a video game. Angelina Jolie returns in the role of the most famous game vixen in Paramount Pictures’ Lara Croft and the Cradle of Life: Tomb Raider 2 and Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara get zapped into a virtual world in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.

Directed by Jan De Bont (Speed), the Tomb Raider sequel promises even bigger action and more adventure than its predecessor. This time around, the sexy relic hunter’s travels lead her to Africa in search of Pandora’s box and the famed Cradle of Life. Along the way, she battles evil-doers and supernatural forces supplied by visual effects houses Cinesite, Double Negative, Eyetronics, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Digital Effects and The Moving Picture Co. Chris Corbould served as special effects coordinator on the film.  

The first Tomb Raider movie opened big with $48 million domestically but receipts significantly trailed off the following week. It ended up going on to make $250 million worldwide, establishing a tentpole for the franchise.

Lara Croft and the Cradle of Life: Tomb Raider 2 is rated PG-13 for action violence and "some sensuality." Read about the film’s visual effects in the September issue of Animation Magazine.

Director Robert Rodriguez adds a third chapter and a third dimension to his popular Spy Kids franchise. Dimension Films’ Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over takes a page from the classic ’80s fantasy Tron and sends Juni into a video game to rescue sister Carmen and foil an evil plot to control the minds of children. Sylvester Stallone shows up as the films baddie, Toymaker. Spy family members Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino and Ricardo Montalban also make appearences, as does Beavis & Butt-Head and King of the Hill creator Mike Judge, who assumes the role of Donnagon Giggles.

Spy Kids 3-D is perhaps more animated than live-action as virtually all the environments and many of the characters were created in the computer. To take full advantage of the immersive quality of a video game, the filmmakers decided to create and release the film in 3D, requiring viewers to don special glasses.

Rodriguez served as visual effects director, along with Daniel Leduc, under his effects banner Troublemaker Digital. Also contributing effects work is Hybride, ComputerCafé, The Orphanage, Janimation, CIS and KNB EFX Group. Read more about the film’s digital visual effects in the July issue of Animation Magazine.