HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Barbie: Spy Squad
HTS Overall Score:68
The “Barbie” movies are first and foremost not my normal demographic shall we say. It’s not my normal Friday night to sit down, call up the guys and say “hey, you guys interested in watch the latest “Barbie” movie with me”? Instead it’s something I have to adapt to and put on my “how would a 12 year old girl like this movie?” cap on. Usually the “Barbie” movies have been more about pop music and singing and other “princess” related things, but lately the series has been branching out. “The Great Puppy Adventure” turned the series on its ear (ever so slightly) by becoming an adventure movie, and “Barbie: Spy Squad” does it again by having Barbie and her friends become teenage super spies (while trying to gain self confidence in their gymnastics routine, better understand themselves AND flirt with the cute scientist in the lab). It’s not the greatest of the series, but it certainly appeals to young girls and has enough glitz and glamour to keep them ooing and awwwing at the screen.
Barbie (Erica Lindbeck) and her friends Renee (Stephanie Sheh) and Teresa (Jenny Pellicer) are your average young teenage girls. They’re working on their gymnastics routine and struggling with the struggles of youth. Barbie is having issues with her confidence in her skills and is messing up their routine near the end, despite the confidence of their Aunt Zoe (Cathy Weseluck). That is about to change when Aunt Zoe invites the three girls out for a surprise picnic. A picnic that reveals Aunt Zoe is actually the head of III. A secret intelligence agency in charge of world security. Right now III is in trouble, as a ridiculously skilled gymnastics thief has been stealing crystals from around the world. Crystals that will power an EMP device capable of taking out any electronic devices, and III wants the three girls to use their gymnastics skills (and a little training) to combat the thief.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=66506[/img]This is, of course, a dream come true. What young kid (boy or girl) doesn’t dream about becoming a super spy? With the help of III’s version of Q (a young tech named Lazlo, played by Ian Hanlin), the Barbie squad gets all sorts of makeup related gadgets and gizmos to help them in their quest to stop the enigmatic thief. Sadly their first few entries into the field are a disaster, as the thief escapes with jewel after jewel, leaving the head brass with the choice of terminating the girls contracts. That is until fate takes over and the three girls unmask the identity of the thief, and are forced to confront her before it’s too late.
“Barbie: Spy Squad” is a silly little movie, and even a bit silly for the “Barbie” series as well. It takes the “adventure” side of things a bit more seriously than it should and that sometimes makes the goofy concept of children spies a bit more comical. We still have the same old life lessons that are in every Barbie movie, but they are combined with girls doing back flips and somersault over lasers and shrink rays to capture a world altering device, so it comes off as cheesier than normal. At the same time, the adventure aspect of the series has given the show new avenues to explore and gives it a fresher coat of paint rather than having Barbie dancing around in her Tiara and ball gown like she does most every other movie. Whether it’s the same old same old, or something new, Barbie continues to be loved by girls the world over and “Spy Squad” adds a new facet to said “same old, same old”.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=66514[/img]“Barbie: Spy Squad” adheres to the same standard them that most “Barbie” movies show. That is, bright, vivid colors with extreme saturation and above par fine detail in the animation department. “Spy Squad” is filled with all sorts of neon color ranging from the bright pinks and blues and purples of the trio’s outfit, to the neon brights of their motorcycles and city lights. The “gliss” shines with a luminescent pink glow and the softer yellows and blues of Aunt Z contrast nicely with the more garish colors of Barbie and her friends. Fine detail is good, but not great, as there is definitely a bit of a budget constraint with the movie. The films animation is well detailed for a majority of the time, but does look a tad soft in comparison to other animated titles. Blacks are deep and inky but do show banding in the night sky as well as some of the really dark shadows.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=66522[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA experience is very similar. It’s a fairly dynamic and immersive track that just isn’t AS dynamic or powerful as a higher budgeted release. Vocals are always strong and directionality is quite nice for a DTV film, as Barbie and her friend’s wiz in and out of situations and use their gymnastics to battle the mysterious thief. LFE is tight and punchy at times, but never wildly powerful. Pneumatic doors slamming shut don’t have the weight and throbbing power that one would expect from something of that intensity. The same goes with the effects. They’re loud and well defined, but I didn’t really notice anything that made them particularly stand out from the rest of the track. The 5.1 experience is satisfying and does the job well for a “Barbie” movie.
• Strength In Numbers Music Video
“Barbie: Spy Squad” definitely is aimed at those 12 year old and under girls, making it a bit goofier and less “pop star” sounding of the series so far. I have to say that this is definitely not my demographic, but the “Barbie” series has come a long way from the vapid and vain roots that it came from and has made itself into a serviceable series for young girls. Teaching all the basic comradery and self-reliance messages that make for an uplifting pre-teen movie. Audio and video are well with standards for the series so I would say that it’s primed and ready for the young princess in your family.
Starring: Erica Lindbeck, Stephanie Sheh, Jenny Pellicer
Directed by: Conrad Helten
Written by: Marsha Griffin, Kacey Arnold
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French Spanish DTS 5.1
Runtime: 76 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 1st 2016
Buy Barbie: Spy Squad On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Low Rental
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