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Blu-ray Reviews: Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 4D

Originally published in Sound and Image, 2012
Last updated 30 August 2012

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Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 4D
2011 - Roadshow Entertainment
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Jessica Alba, Joel McHale, Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook, Jeremy Piven, Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara

Movie: Picture: Sound: Extras:

(The following review was published as part of a combined review with Cars 2.)

Roadshow has been popping out a few Blu-ray 3D titles lately, including the new version of Conan the Barbarian. Conan was okay for that kind of thing, but I went with the fourth Spy Kids movie: not just 3D, but 4D! Well, Spy Kids 3 was in 3D. Partially, via anaglyph stereo (ie. cardboard and cellophane eyewear), so of course the fourth instalment had to be in four dimensions.

The fourth dimension is that of smell, so in the box come four 'Aroma-Scope' scratch'n'sniff cards. At eight points within the movie a prominent number appears, you scratch the matching patch and get to enjoy the sense of sizzling bacon or whatever as it appears on the screen. Except that each card has a vaguely grandmother's bedroom smell of flowery toiletries, and the individual odours failed to resemble anything on the screen.

Look, this movie scores just 3.3/10 on IMDB. The acting is pantomime quality. The message is saccharine, and pounded into the viewer. The story is intentionally ludicrous. Robert Rodriguez (who splits his time between the most childish of kids' movies, and the most adult of grown up ones) seems to have modelled the action on a typical episode of the Three Stooges. It's about right for eight year old boys.

But it does show off 3D quite nicely, has excellent sound mixing and, it seems, there's a little of the eight year old boy in me. It's certainly a good one for showing off your 3D system, including the sound. Look at that 3,036kbps average bitrate for the audio, and that's for 16 bit sound! There's a lot going on.

Pixar, meanwhile, decided after the triumph of Toy Story 3 to produce a sequel to its least highly regarded feature, Cars. Critically it must be considered a fail, getting just 6.4/10 on IMDB. The next lowest Pixar feature gets 7.4/10.

I'm not quite sure why. I kind of liked it, as I did the first one. If you can cope with the idea of anthropomorphic motor vehicles, then some of them being engaged in crime and others acting as spies ought not to be too much with which to cope.

As you'd expect from Pixar/Disney animation, the picture quality is, well, perfect. It is after all piped directly from a rendering computer into the encoder, and never touches film. The 3D is artful and strong. And this is another one of those titles in which the 3D and 2D versions of the movies are presented on different discs. The 3D disc will not play on a 2D system.

If that decision isn't strange enough, both discs come with the main audio doubled up: DTS-HD Master Audio in 7.1 channels, plus DTS-HD Master Audio in 5.1 channels, ES matrixed into 6.1. The former has a vanilla DTS 5.1 core, while the latter has its DTS core in ES Matrix format for 6.1 channels.

This does seem a little pointless. A DTS ES core is backwards compatible with any DTS decoder. The DTS-HD MA 7.1 can be downconverted to fewer channels by any DTS-HD decoder.

Still, both are there, just in case I suppose. Aside from the included Digital Copy (which will work with your portable device), extras are quite limited.

Running time: 89 minutes
Picture: 1.78:1, 1080p24, MPEG4 AVC/MVC @ 24.00/12.00Mbps
Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 16/48 3/2.1 @ 3036kbps (core: DTS 16/48 3/2.1 @ 1509kbps); English Audio Descriptive: Dolby Digital 2/0.0 @ 384kbps
Subtitles: English for the Hearing Impaired
Extras: Includes 'Aroma-Scope' sniff cards; 6 Deleted Scenes (1080p24 - 8 mins); 6 Featurettes (1080p24 - 32 mins)
Restrictions: Rated (Australian rating); Locked to Region B

The following video bitrate graphs were generated by BDInfo 0.5.7. This is for the 2D encode only of the movie:

While this one is for the 3D difference encode:

© 2002-2012, Stephen Dawson