The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015) Film Review

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of WaterI was kind of worried about how good the new SpongeBob movie was going to be, not only because of the quality of recent episodes of the show, but also the lack of hype for it.  The hype surrounding the first SpongeBob movie ten years ago was huge.  Maybe it has something to do with the movie not being targeted to people my age.  I watched the movie during the third week of its release and was almost alone in the theater.  In fact, I would have been the only person there if people did not walk in during the previews.  I guess the hype for the movie is there as it has slaughtered the box office rankings, especially when comparing it to the first movie.

Empty Theater
So many seats to choose from.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water surpassed my expectations.  The commercials made it seem like most of the movie was going to be live action.  This was not the case.  Most of the movie, a little more than two-thirds of it, was done using traditional animation.  Some people might be upset about the commercials being misleading, but there are enough live action scenes that it does not feel like a case of false advertising.  If there had been any more live action scenes, the movie may have dragged on a bit.

I was entertained throughout the entire movie.  While I did not burst out laughing, I had a giant grin on my face.  There are some funny moments that SpongeBob fans will appreciate.  The thing that intrigued me the most while watching the new SpongeBob movie is how weird it is.  It almost reaches Ren and Stimpy levels of weirdness.  There are trippy time travel sequences and a talking dolphin that controls time and space.  Not to mention that as the trailers reveal, SpongeBob and his friends somehow make their way onto land and transformer into superheroes.

The 3D models in the live action scenes look fine.  If they could use those models in a SpongeBob game, that would be great.  There is just something that looks off about the characters in SpongeBob games.  The games are mostly mediocre cash-ins anyways, so first they would actually need to try to make a decent game.  The live action scenes are probably the weakest part of movie.  They are not bad.  It is just that seeing SpongeBob characters out of water has already been done.  The first movie did it and it had David Hasslehoff.

The animation in the 2D scenes is great.  It is crisp and clean.  It is also refreshing seeing 2D animation on the big screen.  The animation style is not a departure from what people used to.  The style is a mixture of the TV show and the first movie.   That is fine.  There is no need to change things up like in the Rugrats movies which had a much darker color scheme than the show.

I am looking forward to the Blu-ray release of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.  I want to see how well it holds up to multiple viewings.  Will it stand the test of the time like the first movie, which seems to have only gotten better as time passes?  I have a strong feeling that it will.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Film Review

Spider-Man films need to stop being so ambitious. Was it really necessary to include three villains in The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Was nothing learned from Spider-Man 3? There is no point in having three villains if they are not all fleshed out. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 just does not know where to stop. Had the film been shorter and placed all of its focus on Electro, it would have been fantastic and better than the first Amazing Spider-Man which I enjoyed watching. Unfortunately, the plot is a mess and the pacing is all over the place making The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a disappointing sequel. It is nowhere near as bad or disappointing as Spider-Man 3, however.

Electro’s design is great and really gives the impression that electricity is flowing through his body. I hope that Michael Bay uses Electro’s design for his upcoming Smurfs reboot. Any time that Electro manipulates electricity, the soundtrack is altered and becomes a mesh of dubstep inspired noises. The sound effects help to show how unstable Electro’s emotions are as most of the time he is just releasing raw anger. It is not until Electro confronts Spider-Man, which happens to be the only thing in his life that he wants, that the dubstep noises resemble any form of actual music. The movie does a nice job establishing Electro’s/Max Dillon’s motives. He is tired of being ignored and just wants to be noticed. It is simple, but it works.

Harry Osborn is introduced and is one of the movie’s strongest characters. He just gives off a creepy vibe whenever he appears on the screen and it is interesting watching Harry and Peter’s relationship unfold. Harry develops some sort of undefined illness and believes that the only way he can survive is to get Spider-Man’s blood. Unable to get the blood himself, Harry turns to Electro for help. The development of Harry and Electro’s partnership is rushed and Harry’s transformation to the Green Goblin is even worse. The Green Goblin barely gets any screen time. I am pretty sure that Venom in Spider-Man 3 had more screen time and that is saying something because he was barely in it.

If Green Goblin’s screen time was not bad enough, the Rhino appears on the screen for an even shorter amount of time. Immediately after the opening credits, there is a scene where Spider-Man tries to stop Aleksei Sytsevich from stealing a truck. It is a pretty exciting scene that is only enhanced by crazy camera angles and Spider-Man’s sarcasm. Spider-Man catches Sytsevich and is never seen or mentioned again until the end of the movie where he briefly appears in the Rhino armor.

While Rhino’s appearance does generate hype for the planned Sinister Six movie, Sony should have taken the Marvel approach and included him in the scene after the credits. What is weird is that there is a scene midway through the credits to spark interest not in the next Spider-Man movie, but for X-Men: Days of Futures Past. It just feels really out of place and bizarre considering that the film is being released in less than 30 days. Speaking of things that feel out of place, product placement has been improved and limited to just Sony laptops. There are no more awkward scenes with Peter Parker using Bing. He now uses Google like a sane person and uses professional strategies to get the information he is looking for.

Another thing that I find weird about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the airplanes. There are two scenes that involve airplanes. The first involves a hijacked plane that is on fire and about to tear apart into multiple pieces. Even as this is happening, the plane’s Internet connection is still working. I wish I had an Internet connection that stable. The second scene involves two planes. During this scene, the power of New York is out resulting in radio communications not properly working. One plane detects that there is an estimated four minutes until a collision with the other. Instead of moving out of the way, the pilot asks a flight attendant to start a timer and see what happens. With mere seconds until impact radio communications are restored and the pilot gets orders on how to handle the situation, move out of the way. What an idea.

Andrew Garfield once again does an amazing job of portraying Peter Parker and Spider-Man. His performance is funny, energetic and sincere. When Peter Parker is not fighting crime, he is either trying to find out what happened to his parents or gawking over Gwen Stacy. It is understandable that Peter Parker would want to know why his parents left him and the movie delivers a reason. Whether or not it adds anything significant to the overall story is debatable as it mostly reveals that OsCorp is *gasp* evil. As for Gwen Stacy, some of the scenes involving her are emotionally moving and watching Peter and Gwen’s on-again/off-again relationship is more interesting than Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship ever was in the Sam Raimi trilogy.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 might be the most blatant case of false advertising since The NeverEnding Story. Despite what the posters and news articles say, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does not have three villains. The Green Goblin and Rhino are barely in it. Anyone that plans on watching the movie to see them will be extremely disappointed. While most of the film is very enjoyable, the unequal screen time that the villains get makes it hard to recommend. If you just want to watch more web-slinging, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets the job done.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Review

So I had the opportunity tonight to watch “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”. I was disappointed by the first movie because of the lack of Nazi cannibalism. In fact, I ended up reading the entire Hunger Games trilogy to see if there were any moments of Nazi cannibalism. There isn’t. Having read “Catching Fire”, I was not looking forward to watching the movie. I was annoyed by the ending and found the general premise to be repetitive. For some reason, everything just worked so much better in the movie and it ended up being very enjoyable.

The biggest improvement in this movie over the first is the removal of shaky cam. The first movie relied on it way too much and it just became disorienting at times. In “Catching Fire” everything is clear, allowing you to easily see all of the action rather than just a giant blur. I wonder if the reliance on shaky cam in the first movie was just to cover up the fact that most of the action scenes are pretty uneventful. Maybe it is just me, but I would expect a movie about putting 24 people in an arena to fight to the death to be pretty gruesome. I mean, Katniss is extremely accurate with a bow. She could easily shoot someone in the eye. The kills by the other contestants could also be more extreme. It would be great if there was bodily dismemberment and geysers of blood. Even ripping someone’s spine out Mortal Kombat style could work.

While the majority of the action scenes are not particularly special, the settings are exciting to look at. There is just so much going on in the background of each scene. From the snow covered wastelands of the districts, the incredibly colorful buildings of the Capitol and the lush scenery of the Hunger Games arena, “Catching Fire” might be worth buying on Blu-ray just to admire all of the detail. Even the way people in the Capitol are dressed is fascinating to look at, even if it appears that everyone got fashion advice from Lady Gaga.

“Catching Fire” may just be rehashing the same formula as the first entry in the series, but the movie switches it up just enough for it to still remain exciting. Each character is unique and memorable. I don’t know how Lenny Kravitz got involved in the series, but he should make a comeback.

Jobs Film Review

“Jobs” feels like an incomplete movie. Maybe wanting to see Steve Jobs’ life up until his death was a bit much to ask for from a biographical film about Steve Jobs. By the end of the film I was left puzzled at what it was trying to accomplish. What did “Jobs” do that “Pirates of Silicon Valley” did not already cover much more accurately 13 years ago?

“Pirates of Silicon Valley” is a captivating movie that managed to explain the creation of both Apple and Microsoft and the fierce rivalry that sparked between them in a span of 90 minutes. A two hour theatrical film only focusing on Steve Jobs should be able to cover more history than a made for TV movie. Microsoft is only mentioned once in a scene where Steve is threatening to sue Bill Gates for copying his idea. The historical accuracy of the film is questionable as both companies were actually stealing ideas from Xerox, a company that was not mentioned at all. If “Jobs” is not going to be more historically accurate or expand upon what Steve Jobs did after his return to Apple then it does not really have a reason to exist.

At its very best, viewers will be able to stare at Ashton Kutcher’s amazing hair. Casting Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs is a much better decision than casting Topher Grace as Venom in Spider-Man 3. Admittedly, I despise most of Apple’s products, but that should not stop me from enjoying a movie about the company and its creator. It is just that the concept has already been done.

Iron Man 3 Review

The trailers for Iron Man 3 looked fantastic. Then again, I remember having the same excitement for X-Men: The Last Stand. While that movie wasn’t terrible, there were certain aspects that left me disappointed. Still it was a decent way to end the X-Men trilogy. A year later Marvel created even more hype with Spider-Man 3. I absolutely loved the first two films, but this. This was an abomination, a complete disgrace to the Spider-Man trilogy. So I watched Iron Man 3, fearing that it would be another Spider-Man 3 scenario and ended up leaving the theater pleasantly surprised.
I won’t go into detail about the plot but Robert Downey Jr. gives another solid performance as Tony Stark and the action is satisfying to watch. There are a couple of quirks that I noticed during the movie however, but most of them were trivial. There is a critical scene where Tony is confronted by the press but all of my attention was focused on this one reporter who was recording vertical video on a phone. Tony confronts this reporter and destroys the phone. While he ends up destroying the phone for a completely different reason it felt like justice was served. No one, not even journalists have the right to record vertical videos.

Another quirk and my biggest complaint about Iron Man 3: Why is it a summer blockbuster? Money I suppose, but it would have made much more sense to release it during November. The movie makes it quite clear, multiple times, that it takes place during Christmas. Maybe I’m just being nitpicky.

As a Christmas film, Iron Man 3 is one of the best. Although it is not perfect it does its part in creating an exciting trilogy.

Resident Evil: Retribution Impressions

I was hesitant in writing a complete review for Resident Evil: Retribution as I had not seen any of the other movies in the series.  It was completely unexpected that I watched it on its opening day.  I would have chosen Finding Nemo instead, but the person I went to the theater with was a huge Resident Evil fan.  I will just go over my impressions of the film.
Along with never watching the movies, I have not taken the time to do a full play through of any of the games.  One day I will play through Resident Evil 4 which I hear is brilliant.  I have a small understanding of RE lore and was concerned that the plot for Retribution would have been convoluted.  Oddly enough, almost the first five minutes of the film are spent recapping all of the major events in the previous movies.  I had never seen a movie do this before.  It was useful, but it did not feel like all of the background information was needed.  The plot was very easy to follow and was just showing an execution of an escape plan.
The length of the film is what bothered me the most.  I think I have just gotten used to long movies but 96 minutes felt short, especially when you take into account the giant cliffhanger ending.  It felt like they accidentally a second half (Yes, accidentally a second half).  A lot of scenes were done in slow motion.  It really makes me wonder how much actual content they had.
In the end there were some satisfying kills, but there really was not anything special about it.  Wesker did not look like a real person.  The dubstep that was played at the end bothered me; at least it had the wobble bass.  I find it hard to recommend to a person who is not familiar with the other movies.  Now I have to watch the next one just to see what happens.

On a semi-related note, the theater was completely empty by the time the movie finished.  Not a single employee in sight.  It was creepy.  It felt like a zombie apocalypse was about to happen.

The Dark Knight Rises Movie Review

It’s not the ending it deserved, but it’s the ending it needs right now.

That previous statement is invalid when discussing the Dark Knight Rises.  Christopher Nolan has outdone himself yet again.  Amazingly, TDKR surpassed all expectations I had for the film.  Very few movies deserve to be as long as TDKR.  Clocking in at two hours and forty-five minutes, you will witness stunning IMAX shots accompanied with a soundtrack that would make any scenario feel epic.  Anne Hathaway did an amazing job portraying Catwoman.  It is not perfect.  There is one loophole I noticed while viewing it a second time.  For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I will not go into detail about it.  

The Dark Knight Rises is a worthy conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.  It may just be the greatest superhero trilogy in existence.