Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

So it seemed stupid to even bother with this movie considering the trailers I saw, but I was just curious as to how bad it is. How did that turn out? Well let's find out.

Plot: An evil pirate named Burger-Beard find this magical book that tells a tale about Spongebob, and the book can make whatever is written in it come true. He uses it to get his hands on the Krabby Patty formula, which causes Bikini Bottom to break into turmoil. Spongebob and Plankton begin to try to find out what happened to the formula, which eventually leads to them along with Patrick, Sandy, Squidward, and Mr. Krabs to come into the surface and try to get it back from Burger-Beard.

So I'm going to be frank with you guys; I was going to tear this movie a new one. I mean there are some things I already liked about the movie, but at the same time I thought it was another example of how Nickelodeon was running out of ideas, as I really expected it to be. Heck, I was beginning to feel confidant that Doug Walker would eventually make a Nostalgia Critic review for this movie. So between after seeing the movie and as soon as I got home from work after that, I was thinking of all the different ways to express how horrible the movie is...and then I saw the rating at RottenTomatoes and looked at some review on YouTube to find out that most people, for the most part, actually liked it. And their argument for why actually made sense, which lead to to think that maybe I was a little too quick to judge, or at least feel more comfortable with the things I do like about it. And as you might imagine, the whole deal sort of felt embarrassing. Does that mean I have to like I now? Well... I don't know. It seems logical to say after thinking a lot more about it. But at the same time, there are some things that I still deem bad. So mixing parts of their view of the movie with mine, I guess it's a bit of a mix as to how much about it is actually good or bad. I'll start off by saying that a decent portion of the comedy is funny for sure. Most of them are mainly for kids, but there are some more adult jokes that I actually would get a good laugh at. And as silly as Burger-Beard was, there where some points where I thought Antonio Banderas was a little funny too. I think my personal favorite moment with him was when something silly was happening during his fight with Spongebob at the surface and his reaction was just so well delivered. Plus his body movements where actually well done whenever something was happening that was clearly CGI. He would be picked up by a character or doing some stunt or something like that, and he would act in a way where he was like a human cartoon. That's a kind of acting that you don't quite get everyday when it comes to actors put on a green screen, especially when you're more or less the only human character in the film. And there are some moments with the main characters that where pretty fun. The first scene with Spongebob and his friends trying to keep Plankton from getting the formula was especially enjoyable. One instant pro that I had in the movie that I mentioned in my review for the first Spongebob film, was how we got more of the other characters in the show playing a part in the story besides just Spongebob and Patrick. And while I couldn't completely say I was satisfied with what they did with them personally (which I'll explain when we get to the stuff that's bad), I still like how they where facing Burger-Beard with Spongebob. I especially liked it when Squidward and Mr. Krabs got superpowers. Not only did they help in the fight, but in their own way, their powers were actually kind of cool in how they fit the characters. I also liked some of the animation to this movie (emphasis on some, but again, I'll explain when I get to the bad stuff). I saw this movie in 3D, and the 3D was actually really good. Whenever the film was in 2D animation, the 3D was surprisingly impressive to look at. Also, a lot of people are really like the N.E.R.D. song Squeeze Me, which I'm not super crazy about, but I do agree that it does have a pretty catchy tune. So now that we have most of the good stuff, let's get to the bad stuff. Now let me start this off by stating that, again, maybe my judgement was hasty when it came to my view with this movie. But at the same time, I don't think you should completely blame me when you put these problems into consideration. First off, the story is structurally a mess. A big reason as to why is that the mere exposition of what the magical book does is really disjointed. Like it starts off as just a story book about Spongebob and his friends, and then there's this whole deal about Burger-Beard trying to end the story by writing on it, and after that, it isn't until a big portion of the film that we get to revealing the fact that anything that is written on the book comes true. I mean, I knew what it does beforehand because I saw the trailers for the movie, but from a storytelling standpoint, it looked like it would confuse someone who is watching the movie without seeing a trailer first. There's also some side moments in the film that didn't really get resolved - or at least I felt should've been extended such as the Squidward-saurus thing and especially what happens to Karen halfway through the movie. Also, I dislike that Burger-Beard's goal has to do with stealing the Krabby Patty formula. I mean I get that it's a kid's movie, it relates to the show and I shouldn't expect him to go all Infinity Gauntlet with the book, but at the same time I think they could've done something a little more different. Secondly, the film is in 2D animation for an hour or so, so it's really only in the last third that the characters are out in the water. Now on one hand, it works because A) more 2D animation and less 3D animation these days is always a plus for the sake of animation as a part of cinema - heck, there was even some stop motion for some brief moments, which some people liked, B) they use that time to develop more of Spongebob and Plankton's relationship, and C) it feels more like a Spongebob episode that way. And all of these statements (or at least A and C) I completely agree with in the long run. But at the same time, I couldn't help but feel annoyed that the trailers where misleading people to think that it wouldn't take long before they're out of the water. And while I did praise the comedy and animation earlier, there are some misses to both of them. Again, there is some good comedy in the film, but when they are really annoying and stupid, man, it really is unbearable. The jokes when they where on the beach especially was a bore. And then the animation goes really out there when the film gives us moments that makes it feel like it has taken a few acid trips. I just couldn't stand what I was watching whenever we had that. I mean I know Spongebob has often had it's moments for weird stuff appearing in its animation, but to me, those moments where just ridiculous. And as great it was that more characters got to take part in the film, I honestly feel that only got part of what I wanted out of that at the end of the day. When I found out that characters like Squidward and Sandy in particular were going to have some real focus in this movie, I was glad about this since both of them, especially Sandy, had almost no part in the last film. But they didn't really get any real parts of the story until the characters got to the surface. I the majority of the film basically centers on Spongebob and Plankton, and everyone else just pops up here and there until we reach the last third when they're finally facing Burger-Beard. Is the stuff between Spongebob and Plankton bad?, not entirely. But couldn't you bring the other guys along for their journey somehow?

And that's my review for The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. On one hand, it has good jokes, good animation that is mostly 2D, an actor that had fun with what he was doing, and while I wasn't completely satisfied with it, more focus on some of the other characters in the show than the first movie had. But on the other hand, the story is a little all over the place, we have too much time with just Spongebob and Plankton than the other characters, some of the animation was just too wacky for me, and there are jokes that just dead-on-arrival. I guess the good stuff slightly outweighs the bad stuff, heck, maybe one day I'll watch this movie again with a more open mind and maybe enjoy it more. But as it is for me, it's a slightly good movie, though not as good as the first one. If you are a fan of Spongebob, or at least its earlier years, you likely will like this movie just judging by the views of other reviewers.

Rating: 60%

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

So I've been watching a couple of new movies lately, but with school starting again among other things, I have not been getting around to watching them. But I just finished some homework and I don't head to work for a while, so here's a movie that I have finally seen, How to Train You Dragon 2.

Plot: The film takes place five years after the events of the first film. Since then, Vikings and dragons have been living together as friends, Hiccup and Astrid are engaged, and Hiccup's bond with Toothless has become stronger than ever. But while exploring new parts of the world, Hiccup and Toothless come across men who are hunting dragons under the leadership of a man named Drago. When Hiccup's father hears about this, he refuses to tell Hiccup about what he knows about him aside from stating that he's very dangerous. Hiccup doesn't listen to his father however, and goes on a search to find Drago in attempt to convince him to turn from his ways. But along the way, he and Toothless are captures by Valka, who turns out to be Hiccup's long-lost mother, and she shows him a utopia for dragons.

Just learning half of what the story is from one of the trailer of this movie made me feel a hundred and ten times more interested than I ever really was in the first movie. For those of you who haven't read my review for it, I more or less said that it is good considering it's unique world of all the different locations and kinds of dragons they came up with...but what really hurt the film was how the story line - especially when it concerns Hiccup keeping Toothless a secret and his relationship with his father - was a little predictable. So ultimately, I thought it was good, just had a story that kept me from wanting to watch it again. This movie on the other hand, blows the first one out of the water hands down. If I wasn't invested in the first film, you can be darn well sure I was with its sequel. I'm not sure where to begin with what makes it so much more interesting. I guess I'll start off by saying that I really like the idea that it takes place years after the first one. With Hiccup especially, it's great that we have him be less of more or less a wimp in a sense, and now has grown up to be smarter, less clumsy, and more mature. Just the mere design of his character for this film says it all really. Plus he now has this suit with all these different kinds of features, which was pretty cool. I also found myself enjoying his relationship with Toothless a lot more. And I enjoyedlike the moments between him and his mother. They both have grown to have this passion for learning about dragons and how they are not evil, and it is nice to see how easily they bond because of that. The comedy is much stronger in this movie too. I don't think I even really chuckled at anything in the last film, but this one had some pretty cute moments. Also they went bigger and better when it comes to the different locations and dragons. The animation for the places in the movie is so much more creative and I really enjoyed how they kept giving us more and more different species of dragons. The mere concept of the Alpha dragon along with the plain design for the Bewilderbeast is a great idea. If there is only one problem with the film, and sadly it's a big one, that would have to be Drago as the villain. In short, he was sadly very one noted as villains go. My brother, Johnathan, who watched the movie with me and our mom stated how its especially a shame that he turned out to be not all that interesting, despite how much they built him up. A good portion of the first half of the movie consists of people like Hiccup's father or the dragon trappers stating what a crazy and dangerous man is. And when we get to him...his design is kinda cool, and some of his actions do cause some serious devastation to the main characters. But his motivation is cliched on top of really rushed, his personality was nothing new, and on the whole, he was kind of a bore.

And that's my review for How to Train Your Dragon 2. The animation was better, the world was bigger and more creative, the characters are much more developed and enjoyable to watch, and the story is much more stronger. The villain was a dud, but at the end of the day, this to me is another perfect example of what a good sequel should be: a film that takes the world, characters and story from the previous film and expands it to much more creative lengths. If you haven't seen this one yet, I highly recommend it.

Rating: 90%