Spy Kids Gets The Drop On XXX

Effects-filled Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams opens today, getting a jump on the weekend competition, which includes another super spy thriller, XXX. And while the two films are not necessarily going after the same audience, they could both be vying for the No. 1 spot.

Robert Rodriguez is back at the helm for the sequel, directing returning Spy Kids Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara. Also back as the duo’s secret agent parents are Antonio Bandaras and Carla Gugino. Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor are along for the ride as Grandma and Grandpa Cortez.

With the logline, "Huge New Adventure… slightly bigger spies," Spy Kids 2 promises to deliver more and bigger special effects then its predecessor. Trailers offer glimpses of looming sea serpents and sword-wielding skeletons ala Jason and the Argonauts. See our VFX & Technology section for details on these effects.

Another thing that makes this installment different is that it was shot on 24p high definition digital, the same format used to lens the most recent Star Wars pic. Sticking to his low budget guns, Rodriguez used digital technology and creative problem solving to get the action-packed family comedy in the can for even less than the first one cost.

As well as writing, directing, producing and editing, the 34-year-old filmmaker also served as visual effects supervisor, reportedly working out of his garage in Austin, Tex.