Direct by Robert Rodriguez. Starring Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Steve Buscemi, Matthew O'Leary, Emily Osment, Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino.

After the raging but unexpected success of his first kids' caper, Robert Rodriguez has brought happy-go-lucky heroes Carmen (Vega) and Juni (Sabara) back for another adventure, this time armed with better gadgets and gags. Now a few years older, the brother and sister espionage team long for the bigger missions but are held back by their parents' (Banderas and Gugino) concerns and the success of rival secret agent siblings Gary and Gerti Giggles (O'Leary and Osment). But when some top secret technology is stolen and Gary and Gerti are picked to track it down, Carmen and Juni come up with a better plan to save the world - and claim the glory.

Thanks to the box office take of the first instalment, Rodriguez (who also wrote, produced and edited) has more money to play around with and 'Spy Kids II' takes the charm of the original and adds on a more ambitious plot, a bigger dollop of one liners and loads of out-there special effects. The great thing about watching it is that Rodriguez is proud to show his influences in every scene - everything from romantic comedies to B Movies to Ray Harryhausen's creature epics - wrapping them all up in his own brand of wired energy.

As with its predecessor, this will get kids more interested in science and technology while the plot never ever talks down to the people it wants to impress. Once again Vega and Sabara make a great double act, but this time they command the whole film with only minor roles for Banderas and Gugino. Steve Buscemi also pops up as the scientist whose desire to create a miniature zoo gives him some really big problems but even his appearance isn't that exciting because the kids have got it all covered.

After this, you can bet that Carmen and Juni will be back on our screens in two year's time. It's going to be a real hoot watching this duo growing up.

Harry Guerin