It's been eight years since those resourceful Spy Kids last saved the world from an overacting mad-man, but this Friday they're back in theaters in the Robert Rodriguez-directed fourth chapter Spy Kids: All The Time in the World (now in 4D!). Actually, the original kiddie spies -- Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara -- aren't the stars of this particular outing, since, you know, they're not actually kids anymore. (They do both make cameo appearances though.) Instead, there's a new pair of pint-sized action heroes in town, played by Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook. Other new-to-the-series actors include Joel McHale as the duo's father and Jessica Alba as their stepmom, a retired agent that introduces them to the spy game. Spy Kids 4 is far from the first film to try and restart a dormant franchise with an infusion of fresh faces playing new characters. Here's a look back at some of the other series that have attempted similar relaunches and whether or not they succeeded. (Hint: The answer is usually, "No.")
Robert Rodriguez's original trailer for Machete, kicking off 2007's double-feature Grindhouse, is perfection. It paints a picture of a world where Danny Trejo's Machete is a Shaft-level icon, a lover of women and killer of men who stars in an action movie with enough sex and violence to melt your face off. But in trying to create a real movie that incorporated all of the footage from that fake trailer, Rodriguez seems to have hit a snag. He had so many scenes to include and so many actors he wanted to add to the mix that the movie turned into an unwieldy, overcomplicated mess that's more parody than homage. The original trailer seems to portray a more serious film with a more stripped-down purpose, and while that fictional movie doesn't appear to have the involvement of Steven Seagal, Jessica Alba or Don Johnson, it may be a superior work to its current, real-life counterpart.
If you're a fan of Conan the Barbarian, you're likely a fan of Red Sonja, his female counterpart, also created by Robert E. Howard. However, you're likely not a fan of her 1985 movie starring Brigitte Nielsen. Despite featuring Ah-nuld as a less-exciting warrior named Kalidor, it was campy as hell, with a kid sidekick and some fat comic relief, and the final nail in the coffin was that it deprived Sonja of her trademark steel bikini and gave her a ridiculously bad hairdo. Well, Rose McGowan has apparently been cast as the new Sonja, and if anyone was ever born to wear a steel bikini, it was her. (Sorry, Jennifer Lopez.)
Robert Rodriguez is known for two different kinds of films: bloody, sexy, hyper-violent crime-horror stories... and kiddie flicks, likely made to entertain his five awesomely named kids: Rocket, Racer, Rebel, Rogue and Rhiannon. While some of his kiddie flicks can be pretty entertaining to an open-minded adult (parts of Spy Kids 3-D are pure genius), mostly they're for the 12-and-under crowd, like the Racer-penned Shark Boy and Lava Girl. So when adult film buffs are sitting around waiting for any of the dozen genre projects under Rodriguez's purview to come to fruition, and he gives us the whimsical wish-fulfillment fantasy Shorts... well, we get a little depressed. Here are some of the projects that, given our druthers, Rodriguez should have been working on instead of Shorts.
Right after I learned that Robert Rodriguez would be producing a Red Sonja movie starring his live-in starlet Rose McGowan, I heard that the two had split up, and immediately panicked. What would become of the film? Would there be a new actress? Or a new producer? Or a new, dead film in the gutters of Hollywood? Well, apparently, nothing has changed; furthermore, my prediction that this movie would be worth it just for the chain-mail-bikini promotional artwork has totally come true.