Shortly after rewatching the original Spy Kids, I rewatched Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams. As I feared, it's a huge disappointment and a disgrace to the original. I'll go through the movie in more or less chronological order, as I think that will make it easy for me to not forget anything I want to criticize.
I actually think the opening was mostly acceptable. There's a drastic tonal shift from a funny sequence that has serious elements and clearly hints at a serious movie coming to an outright comedy. The combat between the spy kids and the magnetic minions is ridiculous, especially the shot with the five-year-old agent or whatever, but I actually think that's okay. At least it was good comedy. The only really bad thing about the opening was the statement that Juni can order the president around. He's a level 2 child agent in an organization whose leader is appointment by the president. The child power fantasy is insane.
And said child power fantasy gets even worse when Carmen hacks the OSS database with no effort and reinstates Juni, which somehow also erases everyone's memory of his being fired. Gary at least should have said something.
Minion is back? And he's a goodguy? I was under the impression the movie was titled "Spy Kids 2" because it was a sequel to "Spy Kids"... but the writers don't seem to acknowledge that anything from the previous film happened. Maybe it's actually called that because there are 2 Spy Kids?
There are some invocations of the misandrist trope of the double standard on assault in the scene where Carmen snaps Juni with the Machete Elastic Wonder and the scene where Minions tells her "be a good girl and swat your brother" and she says "Oh I will".
The only real character development we would've had in this movie is Gregorio getting over his dislike of Ingrid's parents. Unfortunately this falls flat on its face because we never even find out why he didn't like them.
The whole ancient ruins sequence with the skeletons, the magic and the telepathy was... was... I have no single word for this. Fantasy is great. But this isn't a goddamn fantasy movie! Not only did it introduce a completely new magical force that played no role in the plot or world, Juni and Carmen's visit to the place also played no role in the plot or world. You could literally cut that entire sequence from the movie and not one thing would be broken (just need to paste Carmen getting taken by the bird into a different context and remove the skeletons cheering during her battle with Gary, which was its own plothole anyway).
Oh, and let's also mention that the telepathy's mechanics are internally inconsistent in the first five seconds of them being introduced. They find the telepathy on accident, showing that it doesn't require intentional transmission, but after that it does require intentional transmission.
The scene with Carmen and Gerti stuck in the giant bird's nest is a trainwreck on so many levels. First they say they can't get down because it's too long a fall and they can't climb it. Then they get into a conversation about good and evil where Carmen tries to convert Gerti and Gerti is like, "Right? How are you ever supposed to know what's right?" This story isn't about moral ambiguity and hasn't explored it in the slightest. Gerti's line is utterly nonsensical in the context they're in and was shoehorned in by the writers because they couldn't be bothered to give their characters anything meaningful to argue about and they just thought this sounds cool, or something. Carmen's response, "You'll know when the time comes", is disgustingly bad for implying that all the situations Gerti's already been in don't count as "the time coming".
Then when the bird comes back, they escape by using a parachute. Wait... why couldn't they do that at first?
The battle scene between Juni's spider monkey and Gary's slizard. Spider monkey is not only crushed flat because it was too dumb to step aside with a several-second warning, it also gets back up - after clearly being shown to be dead - and kicks the slizard's ass with an ability it could have used before.
In the shot where Carmen shows up, what the hell is she swinging from? They weren't in a jungle! It's okay that the fight between her and Gary was completely one-sided and played for laughs, but this is not okay. It actually was a Deus Ex Machina because there was no other way Carmen could have dismounted Gary.
Speaking of sexism, Gerti's line "You're fighting a girl. You're gonna lose" is totally unnecessary. The story speaks for itself, writers. You don't have to have a character tell us that girls are better than boys.
It's a huge plot point that Romaro's Transmooker disables all technology on the island. But of course, that doesn't work on the badguys, with no explanation or lampshading.
Felix's betrayal is very unsatisfying because we saw him clearly being a good guy in the first movie, there's no foreshadowing of the betrayal, and besides "he said he'd spare me if I helped him" (which doesn't cut it because he sacrificed his own freedom for the cause in the previous movie), the only explanation he gives is "I'm not your uncle" which is not a flimsy or unbelievable motive. It's just not a motive.
His betrayal also isn't necessary for the plot. Donnogan already had the cards; he didn't need Felix to swipe the Transmooker.
It's also worth mentioning how that scene treats the Transmooker like it's a weapon that's going to kill the Cortezes. We were told that it disables electronics, not kills people.
It's ridiculous that Carmen and Juni were able to remote pilot the helicopters while they were being held at essential gunpoint. Was it not visually obvious that they were doing something? Not to mention it's unexplained how their gadgets are able to control the Magnamen's tech?
The fight scene between Gregorio and Donnogan. Why oh why is nobody else helping? I mean, I get that it's personal... oh wait. It's not. Gregorio has no special connection to Donnogan.
The scene where the secret service show up and not only is Alexandra with them, but that she gets to deal out all the judgement is absurd. The last we heard she was on terrible terms with her father and she isn't even an OSS agent. It's also ridiculous how Donnogan's punishment is merely "You're fired".
Another significant failure is how lightly Carmen treats Gary after he, you know, tried to literally murder her brother and help his evil dad take over the world. She's just like "Hope you're on the good side next time". I thought they were going to give Carmen some kind of arc where she gets over her crush on Gary and accepts that he's evil and it looked so promising in the fight where she tells him "you're so full of shit", but nope, she's still biased as hell in his favor.
It's also never explained where all the new enemy mooks came from. Lisp in the prequel had minions (and not even that many besides Floop's creations) because he was presumably the leader of some well-established criminal infrastructure, but Donnogan is head of the OSS and somehow has access to a slew of mininos who are willing to fight the OSS for him.
Juni's random decision to leave the OSS in the ending is the worst part of the movie, which shatters a main character and the entire point of both movies to shoehorn a disgusting moral: "I don't need to be the best spy, I should just focus on being the best me". Being a spy is how you be the best you! It's how you just saved the world twice! This movie's entire plot happened because he wanted to go on bigger spy missions! And the original was all about learning that the kids are ready to be spies and that the Cortezes always work together!
Finally, let's also mention how the title of the movie doesn't even make sense. There was an island, but that's all. It had nothing to with dreams.