January 2, 2009

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D

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The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D is a 2005 family film by Robert Rodriguez, the writer, producer and director of Spy Kids. The film uses the same anaglyph 3D technology used in Spy Kids 3D: Game Over. The film stars Cayden Boyd, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Dooley, and George Lopez. Many of the concepts and much of the story was conceived by Rodriguez' kids, and seven-year-old Racer Rodriguez. The film tells the story of a 10-year-old named Max, who is burdened by school bullies and quarreling parents. He makes up two superhero friends, Sharkboy and Lavagirl, who are "real" and come and find Max in order to take him back to their home, Planet Drool, which is in danger. Most of the villains are really people in Max's real life. Much of the film deals with the conflict between fantasy (the dreamworld) and reality.

The film performed modestly at the box office, and won little praise from critics.

Plot

The movie starts off with a quote by Lava Girl: Everything that is or was began with a dream...

A boy simply called Max (Cayden Boyd), living in central Texas, is regularly bullied at his school, while his parents (David Arquette and Kristin Davis) are constantly arguing. Dissatisfied and lonely, he creates a dreamworld called "Planet Drool" wherein endless fun and brilliant dreaming are the norm. Many of the inhabitants of this world, including the two villains, resemble people of Max's own life. To inhabit this world, Max imagines two young superheroes, Sharkboy (Taylor Lautner) and Lavagirl (Taylor Dooley). Numerous of the places and concepts in the dreamworld are puns or cultural references, as shown below.

As part of a writing assignment, Max reveals to his schoolmates and teacher the origin of Sharkboy, who is the son of a biologist whose houseboat laboratory was destroyed in a violent storm and who eventually became a warrior under the tuition of great white sharks, and describes his own meeting with both fighters. No one is at all kind to Max, except Marissa (Sasha Pieterse), the daughter of the teacher, Mr. Electricidad (George Lopez). An overprotective father, Mr Electricidad does not want Max to befriend her, although he suggests that Max attempt to make friends in his real world so as to distract himself from dreaming. Later, a bully called Linus (Jacob Davich) steals Max's Dream Journal. The next day, Max confronts Linus, who returns the now heavily scribbled Dream Journal to Max. As a storm gathers outside, the characters emotions become increasingly exaggerated. Max accuses Linus of spoiling the journal, who in turn demands that Max be expelled. Angered at having his authority challenged, Mr. Electricidad spitefully proclaims that they shall "both report to the principal's office". As he concludes this speech, the wall of the schoolroom is broken down by a cyclonic wind, revealing Sharkboy and Lavagirl, who have come to enlist Max's aid in saving Planet Drool from a "Darkness" which encroaches upon it. Neither of them denies that they are Max's creations: Lavagirl, when describing Planet Drool, remarks "You should know, Max; you made it up".

The three then travel to Planet Drool, where it is revealed that Max's dreamworld has become a garish nightmare. After rescuing some children from a never-ending roller coaster, they confront the sadistic Mr. Electric, a now corrupt operator of the planet's electrical support, who overpowers them and sends them down the "Passage of Time" to the Dream Graveyard. There, Sharkboy and Lavagirl urge Max to dream, believing his imagination to be of great power; but Max is uncertain of how to proceed.

Among the useless or forsaken dreams lying derelict in the Graveyard, Max discovers Tobor, a sapient, android robot (Tobor's name is spelled "Robot" backwards) Max once tried to build. Tobor advises them to catch the Train of Thought to a place of safety, allowing them to ride on his disembodied eyes and mouth, the only parts of his body which he can move. They then ride the Train of Thought to the Land of Milk and Cookies, where Max is able to dream without the corrupting influence of the Darkness. He is abetted by some off-key singing by Lavagirl and a much better performance by Sharkboy. When they are attacked by Mr. Electric's seekers, the "plughounds", Max is able to dream up a banana split-shaped boat by which they are able to escape down the "Stream of Consciousness". Here, Max reveals that they may, in order to gain an advantage over Mr. Electric, obtain a thing called the Crystal Heart from its owner, the Ice Princess. To reach this princess, they must cross a long, narrow ice bridge; Lavagirl, whose heat threatens to melt the bridge if she is awake, attempts to sleepwalk across it. Mr. Electric ambushes them on the Ice Palace's side of the bridge. They are taken to the Dream Lair, the source of the planet's vitality, where they discover that Linus, who now styles himself Minus, has been empowered by Max's corrupted Dream Journal and now stands poised to destroy the world recorded within it. They escape when Lavagirl encourages some tiny, bubble-like, soothing dream-creatures called "Lalas" to sing at a frequency which provokes Sharkboy into tearing apart the cage holding them captive. They reclaim the Dream Journal, but it burns to ashes in Lavagirl's overeager hands. Shattered, she fervently laments her tendency towards destruction, and fears that she is inherently evil. She angrily questions Max as to why he made her of lava and paired her with Sharkboy, claiming that, like Max's parents, they are incompatible.

They return to the Ice Castle, where the Ice Princess, who more than slightly resembles Max's fellow-student Marissa, agrees to lend him the Heart, under conditions imposed by her father the Ice Guardian. As they journey to the Dream Lair, Mr. Electric challenges Sharkboy, who is then rendered insentient by electric eels. Spurning Max's warnings, Lavagirl sacrifices herself to rescue him. Max, grief-stricken, wonders what to do, whereupon Tobor's face appears as a counselor. The two converse, concluding that Max should "dream a better dream", having hitherto only dreamed for himself, on purpose to escape from rather than improve his real world.

When Tobor has gone, Sharkboy wakes and is aghast to see Lavagirl in her state of near-death. Wishing to save her, Sharkboy carries her to an active volcano and throws her into its crater, while Max imagines that her nature is that of light, the most "positive" thing to emerge from sources of heat. She is immediately revived, whereupon her power manifests itself as a light that burns away the Darkness. Max, now in full possession of his power to dream, thaws the frozen ocean for Sharkboy, who, aided by several mako sharks, pins Mr. Electric down. Max and Linus then duel, using escalating manifestations of thought to defeat each other, until Max realizes that at some time in the past, someone broke Linus' own dreams, with the result that Linus seeks to destroy everything that reminds him of what he has lost. Inspired by this, Max offers him his friendship, and Linus accepts. Lavagirl and Sharkboy join the reconciled Max and Linus at the Dream Lair, each one elated at having achieved their respective ambitions; Lavagirl at having her positive nature revealed and Sharkboy at his new status as King of the Ocean. Mr. Electric, however, has becomes addicted to evil, and therefore sets off to kill Max, who, along with Linus, is dreaming on Earth. Max reluctantly returns to his waking life, where Mr. Electric has stirred the local weather into a tornado, which sweeps up Max's parents as they attempt to rescue their son. During the struggle to avoid losing contact with each other, Max's parents realize that their affection for each other exists in spite of their recent quarrels. They are rescued by Sharkboy and Lavagirl.

Mr. Electric, meanwhile, menaces Max and his classmates, whereupon Mr. Electricidad urges the students to think of a plan by which to defeat Mr. Electric. Linus, having tried and failed to do so in single combat, suggests that Mr. Electric be frozen. Max, remembering that he has the Crystal Heart, gives it to Marissa, who being the Earthly version of the Ice Princess has the ability to use it. She confidently strides out into the windstorm (overriding her father's objections) and uses the Crystal Heart to change Mr. Electric into unseasonal snow. Mr. Electricidad, having learned "as much from his students as the students learn from him", thanks Max for having "awakened" him.

Subsequently, Max reveals to the class that Sharkboy, now king of the ocean, travels in search of his father and cares for the ocean's creatures while above him Lavagirl tends to the volcanoes that originate on the ocean floor. They no longer visit Max, though he may visit them in his dreams. You see a short clip of Sharkboy and Lavagirl walking down a beach holding pinkies. The film then concludes showing Max and his parents in the act of completing Tobor.

Cast

Characters

  • Cayden Boyd as Max. The protagonist; an imaginative ten-year-old, known as the "day-dreamer" on Planet Drool. "At first he's dreaming all for himself; he wants Shark Boy and Lava Girl to take him away", says Boyd about the role. "I like that he's selfish in the beginning and he's not selfish in the end"[1]. Some of the dialogue between Boyd and George Lopez in the film refers to Lopez's role on the George Lopez TV series, wherein Luis Armand Garcia plays a character named Max.
  • Taylor Lautner as Sharkboy. Dreamt up by Max, Sharkboy is a young warrior who was raised by sharks after he was separated from his father, a marine biologist, when a storm destroyed their floating laboratory. He therefore imitates the sharks in his personality. "He's very self-confident and sometimes his confidence gets him into trouble', says Lautner about the character. "He's also kinda jealous of the character, Max, because he has an inside crush on Lava Girl and she's overly motherly to Max"[2]. Lautner's martial arts skills helped him to obtain the role of Sharkboy. "When I auditioned for the film, Robert Rodriguez, the director, didn’t know that I had my martial arts [background], and while we there in Austin, TX he saw a DVD of me and asked me to choreograph my own fight scenes", said Lautner.[3]
  • Taylor Dooley as Lavagirl. She is the other young warrior who protects Planet Drool, and was also created by Max. Her origins are unknown; indeed, she is uncertain of her own identity and purpose throughout much of the film. The role of Lavagirl was cast after the two other main characters (Sharkboy and Max) had already been cast.[4] Her lava bike was Computer-generated, like many of the elements in the film; Dooley and Lautner described the on-set versions of the lava bike and Sharkboy's shark-themed jetski as "a green box with handles". [5]
  • George Lopez as Mr. Electricidad / Mr. Electric, Tobor, and Ice Guardian. Mr. Electricidad is Max's schoolteacher, and is sometimes intolerant of active imagination. His alter ego is Mr. Electric, who maintains the equilibrium of Planet Drool until he becomes corrupted by Minus. Mr. Electric is heard to have a sense of humor, manifest in puns related mostly to electricity. His challenge to Sharkboy is followed by a companionable "Watts up?"; a play on "What's up?", which is a way of inquiring into a friend's welfare. Later, Mr. Electric shouts "Charge!" as he emerges from the tornado, indicating both an electric surge of power and an advance into battle. Immediately before his destruction, he threatens the class with "Megahertz", suggesting "mega hurts". Rodriguez wrote the part with Lopez in mind.[6]
  • Tobor and the Ice Guardian (the Ice Princess' father) are voiced by George Lopez in the film. Tobor is a robot who appears in the Dream Graveyard on Planet Drool. Max had formerly tried to build Tobor in the real world, but had been discouraged by a careless remark of his father's. The name "Tobor" evidently is "robot" spelled backward. The Ice Guardian has a very small role; he is a tall figure made apparently of animate ice and a protective father to the Ice Princess, much as Mr. Electricidad is to his own daughter Marissa. Rodriguez states that he kept asking Lopez to play additional characters. Lopez spent a total of two weeks working on the film.[7]
  • David Arquette and Kristin Davis play Max's dad and mom respectively. Max's dad is an unemployed writer. They are on the brink of a divorce. They mean well for Max but are unable to settle his troubles. On Planet Drool, Max's parents appear as a couple of 'Cookie Giants' who live happily in the Land of Milk and Cookies. Like Sharkboy and Max, they are used as sources for a running gag wherein one character eats a mouthful of some substance and then violently spits it out, spraying the audience's viewpoint. This joke, when the male Giant is its central character, serves as a device to reflect his alter-ego's dislike of his wife's chocolate-chip cookies, which are implied to be the inspiration, in Max's mind, for the Giant's location. It also gives a reason to show his wife's empathy, which is lacking in Max's real world.
  • Jacob Davich as Linus / Minus. He is a bully at Max's school and steals his Dream Journal. With it, he enters Max's dreamworld and, using the name "Minus" (a nickname bestowed by Mr. Electricidad for Linus' habit of disliked conduct), alters it to his version. He is ultimately converted to Max's friendship when the true nature of his bullying is revealed. The dream he later creates for himself, as shown in a resolving scene, is a superhero named "Mr. Positive", possibly as a contrast with his creator's nickname of "Minus".
  • Sasha Pieterse as Marissa Electricidad / Ice Princess. Marissa is the daughter of Mr. Electricidad, and at first the only student who befriends Max. On Planet Drool, she appears as the Ice Princess, keeper of the Crystal Heart, which is a necklace she wears which can freeze anything, including time. Because Max and his friends desire an increased opportunity wherein to defeat Mr. Electric, they request the Crystal Heart of her, to discover that only she and her alter-ego Marissa can use it. Marissa is often kept under very severe scrutiny by her father; possibly as a result, Max has imagined the Ice Princess as capable of speaking boldly to her father, correcting him when he suppresses her. Because Max seems to have an emotional "soft spot" for Marissa, the oath he takes to protect the Crystal Heart resembles a Catholic wedding vow.

As seen in the credits, two of Robert Rodriguez's children, Rebel and Racer, portray Sharkboy at age five and age seven respectively. Rico Torres plays Sharkboy's father.

Production

Parts of the film were shot on location in Texas, where Max resides and goes to school in the film. Much of the film, however was shot in a studio against green screen. Most of the ships, landscapes and other effects including some creatures and characters, were accomplished digitally. According to Lautner and Dooley, when filming the scene with the dream train, the front part of the train was an actual physical set piece. "The whole inside was there and when they have all the gadgets you can pull on, that was all there but everything else was a green screen," said Dooley.[8] Eleven visual effects companies (Hybride, CafeFX, The Orphanage, Post Logic, Hydraulx, Industrial Light & Magic, R!ot Pictures, Tippett Studio, Amalgamated Pixels and Intelligent Creatures and Rodriguez's Texas-based Troublemaker Digital) worked on the film in order to accomplish over 1,000 visual effect shots.[9] Those who had worked on Rodriruez's previous 3D film Spy Kids 3D were able to use some of the lessons they learned while working on that film.[9]

Robert Rodriguez appears in the credits fourteen times, most notably as director, a producer, a screenwriter (along with Marcel Rodriguez), visual effects supervisor, director of photograhy, editor, a camera operator, and a composer and performer.The story is credited to Racer Max Rodriguez, with additional story elements by Rebecca Rodriguez, who also wrote the lyrics for the main song, Sharkboy and Lavagirl. Other members of the Rodriguez family can be seen in the film or were involved in the production.

Reception

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D was widely panned by critics, with a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes [1], yet performed modestly at the box office, grossing $39.1 million in North America and $30.2 million overseas [2]. Stars Taylor Lautner and Taylor Dooley were nominated for acting awards at the 2006 Young Artist Awards for their work in this movie [3].

Roger Ebert, who is among those film critics who did not entirely dislike the film, found that the 3-D process used was distracting and muted the colors, thus, he believes, "spoiling" much of the film. He expressed hope that the 2D version released on the DVD would look much better.[10]

Lawsuit

TNA professional wrestler Dean Roll, who trademarked the name "Shark Boy" in 1999, filed a lawsuit against Miramax on June 8, 2005, claiming that his trademark had been infringed and demanding "[any] money, profits and advantages wrongfully gained". In April 2007, the suit was settled for an undisclosed amount.

Soundtrack

Director Robert Rodriguez composed parts of the score himself, with contributions by composers John Debney and Graeme Revell.

Track listing
  1. "The Shark Boy" (Robert Rodriguez/John Debney) – 3:47
  2. "The Lava Girl" (Robert Rodriguez) – 1:28
  3. "Max's Dream" (Robert Rodriguez) – 1:37
  4. "Sharkboy and Lavagirl Return" (Robert Rodriguez) – 1:44
  5. "Planet Drool" (Robert Rodriguez) – 2:12
  6. "Mount Never Rest" (Graeme Revell) – 2:35
  7. "Passage of Time" (Robert Rodriguez, Carl Thiel) – 1:30
  8. "Mr. Electric" (Graeme Revell) – 1:09
  9. "Train of Thought" (John Debney) – 2:01
  10. "Dream Dream Dream Dream (Dream Dream)" (Robert Rodriguez) – 1:54
  11. "Stream of Consciousness" (John Debney) – 1:33
  12. "Sea of Confusion" (John Debney) – 3:04
  13. "The LaLa's" (Nicole Weinstein) – 1:09
  14. "The Ice Princess" (Robert Rodriguez/John Debney) – 2:51
  15. "Sharkboy vs. Mr. Electric" (Graeme Revell) – 0:55
  16. "Lavagirl's Sacrifice" (Robert Rodriguez) - 2:10
  17. "The Light" ([[Robert Rodriguez) – 2:21
  18. "Battle of the Dreamers" (Robert Rodriguez) – 1:21
  19. "Mr. Electric on Earth" (Graeme Revell) – 1:15
  20. "Unplugged" (Robert Rodriguez/John Debney) – 1:12
  21. "The Day Dreamer" (Robert Rodriguez/John Debney) – 1:29
  22. "Sharkboy and Lavagirl" (Robert Rodriguez) – 4:09
References

Source: Wikipedia

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