The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl Robert Rodriguez

You'd think that a gaudy kid flick by the director of Sin City would be evidence of auteur schizophrenia, but get this: they're pretty much the same movie. Oh sure, there are no prostitutes in this version, and there's a surfeit of guff about dreams and wishes, but the same aloof CGI mentality suffuses both Robert Rodriguez movies with an artificiality that trivialises everything. When Sharkboy and Lavagirl call on the put-upon boy who dreamed them up, it has absolutely no resonance whatsoever; it's all completely theoretical pixel chess pieces on a digital board and the impressive technology doesn't translate into an impressive movie. Getting past the elaborate set-up (and the fact that the film is The Neverending Story crossed with a videogame), there's no real conviction behind this painstaking realisation of the fantasies of the director's son, and so you just watch stunned, a matter made worse by the further distancing effect of the 3-D version. The whole thing looks like Douglas Sirk without irony, an incredibly phoney production one is expected to take at its word, and it goes without saying that the whole thing blows away when it's scrutinised even a little bit. George Lopez has a nice bit as a pure-electricity master villain but his role sums up the movie: a relentless device that's not really material but a bitch to have to deal with. The only thing the tiresome mess proves is that technology is powerless without a script, that Rodriguez has missed the point of using it, and that 3-D glasses still burn your eyes like crazy. Both 3-D and 2-D versions are included; the only extras are a feature commentary by Rodriguez that's surprisingly articulate about his dubious methods, and a featurette on his too-credulous inclusion of his children's fantasies in the script. (Alliance Atlantis)