*NEW* THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER REVIEW *NEW*

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Two stars for the toonsters.

When a diabolical pirate (Antonio Banderas) above the sea steals the secret Krabby Patty formula, SpongeBob and his nemesis Plankton must team up in order to get it back.

Yeah, I know. How old are you?! Grow up! After watching this shambolic sequel, I think I will.

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I loved Spongebob Squarepants when it first came out in 1999 (That’s right, 19 years ago!). It was random, funny and utterly bonkers. I saw the movie when I was 15.

I always loved the hidden innuendos and stupid gags and still watch the film every once in a while. Hell, I still quote it to my work colleagues (All surprisingly secret SS fans. Wait, hang on. Best not make that reference).

When I heard a sequel was in the pipeline, the silly teen nerd in me giggled like our spongey hero BUT once the opening sequence began with Banderas prancing around Sinbad style (with the mad energy that voiced the feisty feline Puss in Boots), I knew I was in deep trouble.

This really was one for the little ‘uns. The innuendos GONE. The humour silly and stupid. Banderas did his best BUT he was annoying. Narrating the dull and lifeless plot to the best of his ability. BUT thankfully he was nowhere near as irritating as the poorly CGI’d seagulls.

Normally I’m a fan of Alan Carr BUT his voice grated against me as the lead seagull. Apparently we couldn’t get anybody better to voice the rest of the lot. Or they read the script and scarpered. Instead we had YouTube sensations (Apparently) Joe Suggs/Thatcher Joe, Caspar Lee and X Factor/TV presenter Stacey Solomon. Greeeatttttt.

We had to endure the same old guff as Plankton makes his umpteenth attempt on stealing the Krabby Patty formula. However, this time the formula is successfully stolen.

BUT NOT by the minuscule megalomaniac. With the town going crazy and looking for someone to flog, SpongeBob helps Plankton prove his innocence. Leading to a dreadfully mediocre movie.

The pace took too long to get going. The time travel machine subplot was an extended gag sequence that delivered more misses than hits. SpongeBob and Plankton’s partnership should have been better than it was and left us Patrick-lite. The songs didn’t help either. The bland Pharrell Williams backing track and that T-E-A-M song was just plain cringe.

At least the first one had Goofie Gober Rock (I’m a Goofie Gober . . . ROCK!)

The post-apocalyptic Mad Max future sequence was a good touch; “Welcome to the apocalypse, Squidward. I hope you like leather”.

Some of the old gags worked. BUT the underwhelming supporting cast didn’t help lift things. With the original movie, we had Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), Scarlett Johansson (Avengers), Alec Baldwin (BT adverts. I’m kidding!). Hell, it even had the Hoff!

The whole thing was just so ridiculously far-fetched. Out of desperation if anything else! I know. How can you say far-fetched? It’s a talking sponge causing havoc underwater. The film had David Hasselhoff acting as a Knight Rider speed boat hybrid that jettisoned our dim-witted duo back to Bikini Bottom with his chest (Told you I watched it!)

Instead we had Matt Berry (The IT Crowd) delivering his vocal gravitas to an interstellar galaxy protecting dolphin overlord. You read that, right?

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Shooting lasers out of his blowhole! Donning a cape and floating in the air with toilet roll hanging off his dorsal fin. I really thought I was trippin’ on acid after that rather odd segment.

I wanted more of Karen (Jill Talley). Plankton’s computer wife. She was funny. “My hero. You obviously want something or else you wouldn’t be freeing me”.

The lack of double entendres was extremely disappointing BUT the silly puns had their moments: “You’ll be safe in this . . . safe”, “Is he an enemy or plankton?” BUT it just wasn’t enough. There were laughs to be had in the mental finale with our loveable gang bulked up to the max with superpowers BUT it was a case of too little, too late.

I was ready to leave the screen before the singing seagulls and Antonio Banderas could destroy the theme song. And the auto-tuning cameo from Berry was bloody dreadful.

Yeah . . .

This was definitely for the sprogs. I felt like a sponge out of water watching this.

2/5

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HERCULES REVIEW

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Can you smeeeellll what Hollywood is cooking? A mediocre action epic of a blockbuster that regurgitates the same old cheesy guff and desperately craves to be so much more but alas it was not to be. Still not a bad way to kill 90-odd minutes, jabroni!

Bless my soul, Herc is on the . . . No, enough of that. Wrong Hercules. If there was ever a man to play the ultra-strong demi-God Hercules, it is Dwayne “The Man that is becoming a Rock” Johnson. The man is a machine with enough machismo to inject the wrinklies for more Expendables movies. An absolute tank. Plenty for the ladies and even the fellas . . . if only to sigh at their feeble mortal body flab. On a serious note, Dwayne Johnson is not a bad actor (Hello? He was a wrestler) and always has a charismatic presence on the screen. He has proven to be a reliable lead and it’s great to see him given the platform yet again.

However, there are only so many poor lines that The Rock can make sound good. His stone cold stare and asking his foes if he looks afraid, brilliant. His longwinded chivalrous speeches about becoming the legends you were born to be, meh not so much. Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) has never been one for story and drama. His strengths have always been action and bringing the laughs. Now when the action does kick in, it’s pretty decent. The CGI actually helps make the scenes. The 3D was actually very impressive, if gimmicky. I mean a flaming arrow flying at you out of the screen is always going to be gimmicky but cool. (I know. Lame so sue me).

The animated adversaries that Hercules must fight are brilliant visual sequences as well as the battle scenes. That along with Hercules’ rag tag team of misfits makes this an easy going, silly but watchable movie like the movies of old. However, it is when the team disperse and Ratner has to tell a story to piece all the wonderful animation and good action together that it drags the film down and puts you into a lull. I know? Even at 98 minutes. Even with a decent cast, you can’t help but laugh or tut at the predictable and lazy guff.

It’s so corny and dull, you find it hard to keep an interest. I mean after all the promise of the opening with Hercules’ team fighting while delivering cheesy banter, I actually wanted more of that during the “serious getting to know the characters and trying to add dimensions to them” segments. Joseph Fiennes plays a restricted if perfectly type cast role as the sleazy King Eurystheus. John Hurt does his best to try and apply some acting gravitas to his frail malicious Lord Cotys (no, not Coitus! Stop it!). Peter Mullan is to be expected as the shady Sitacles. It’s great to see him getting in bigger movies. A great actor. Rufus Sewell and Ian McShane were certainly the most memorable out of the misfits.

Sewell is an underrated actor and it’s nice to see him play a good guy for once. He manages to come out with some of the better one liners. Ian McShane is pretty much playing himself but as a wizard who can see his own death. However, the rest of the cast are either flat or really irritating. Reece Ritchie and Rebecca Ferguson (no, not the X Factor singer!) I’m looking at you. Ritchie’s OTT narrator was awful. Sorry, only Paul Bettany got away with that in A Knight’s Tale.

To be honest, it has fun moments but it gets dragged down by its own lazy attempts to try and be serious. It’s big and dumb. Don’t try and be clever. While I was watching the Rock dispense enemies with a fist here and a mighty swipe with his club there, I really wanted more. I mean, not even a Rock Bottom or an Elbow of his people? Apart from punching a guy off his horse and one 50 yards across the field, there isn’t much else.

The idea of playing down Hercules as a demi-God and that he is a fraud, exaggerating stories to bring fear to his captives for his bounty is a good concept. But when you see him punch guys across the battlefield and fight giant lions, you’re not fooling anyone. I mean, look at him? It also made me want to watch The Scorpion King again. A film that by comparison knew it was being big and dumb and was better for it.

It’s okay. At it’s best, action packed and cheesy. At it’s worst, dull, boring and cheesy. Worth a watch if you want a no-nonsense punch up blockbuster but otherwise, invest in Gladiator or The Scorpion King!

2.5/5 for me. Next time, Mr. Ratner better banter, better baddy and a bit more fun. Screw the story. Do I look afraid?

Please find my Hercules related videos just to make a change.

1) The first one my reaction when I first saw the trailer for the new Hercules movie with The Rock

2) My reaction after watching said film using TV Hercules Kevin Sorbo

3) Just for fun

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY REVIEW

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Behold, an Oscar candidate. A proper one. A perfect showcase in sheer acting. I may have said that a few times now but this one takes the cake.

Brilliant, bold, riveting drama with the best acting ensemble I’ve seen in some time. Meryl Streep once again demonstrates why she still rakes in the nominations. Phenomenal. I may have to retract my bet on the Best Actress nod. Tracey Letts adapted the screenplay from her own award winning stage play. Some may argue that the film may be restricted to the house, a beautiful house at that. But I feel it works as the perfect wrestling ring for one of the most dysfunctional families I’ve seen since Arrested Development (as exemplified perfectly in the poster).

Admittedly, I was reluctant to see this. Me? Reluctant to see a film? Strange. I know. The trailer didn’t sell it for me. But Mum’s a Streep fan and so we went . . . and was pleasantly surprised. What was strange was seeing ol’ brainbox Sherlock Holmes, Mr Benedict Cumberbatch as silly sympathetic simpleton Little Charlie. An odd, if well acted, transition. After his shoddy accent in The Island, Ewan McGregor has finally mastered the American accent. The only thing I could pick at is why on Earth did he have his teeth done? Are you Rylan in disguise?! (X Factor’s Rylan Clark. If you don’t know, who that is. Well, you’re lucky). Apart from that, very good. In all fairness, the cast were brilliantly picked for the roles. The only problem with so much talent on display, certain actors get pushed to the back of the line but the fact they are still able to make an impression, shows how talented they are and how well developed the characters were. Juliette Lewis as the younger gullible naive daughter (Not surprising that Lewis would play the dimwit but she nails it so well). Delmot Mulroney as the laid back slacker with the fancy Ferrari, trying to stay cool with the kids, reeking of a mid-life crisis.

Julianne Nicholson as Ivy, the daughter that stayed while the others flew the coop. And speaking of coop, it was great to see Chris Cooper. An underrated actor who always shines. I mean only he could go from American Beauty to The Muppet Movie and nail it. Desperately trying to keep the peace in a house full of nutters, his breaking point speech was brilliantly done. You couldn’t help but root for the guy. It could be argued that Abigail Breslin and Sam Shepard were wasted characters. But the real story is between Violet (Streep) and Barbara (Roberts). Breslin’s character Jean was more of a foil to unearth their resentments and there is a reason for Shepard without spoiling anything. Great actor and the fact he made an impact with a mere couple of minutes, reciting TS Elliott was very good. But anyone could have played him. 

There are three actresses that stood out. The first was Margo Martindale (a talented actress that has played some memorable roles from some of my favourite TV shows, Dexter and The Americans. She especially struck my eye after her turn in Justified as the creepy Mags Bennett). She plays Mattie Fae brilliantly. Her chemistry with Streep was fantastic. You could have believed that they were sisters. They made it seem so natural. Now the other two and the main stars, who have been rightly nominated for Oscars respectively, are Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep as Barbara and Violet. They desperately try to keep civil during a family crisis that has finally brought all the family home, despite their strained relationship but it isn’t soon before tempers flare up and everyone’s dirty laundry is thrown about. The pair are fantastic and when they confront each other over their problems with one another, it is great to watch. Riveting and at times emotional. Meryl Streep, however, was on another level. As soon as she entered the first frame, she stole the show and dominated the film as the overbearing pill popping matriarch. Her erratic behaviour from mad ranter to a vulnerable sufferer was conveyed expertly. Her “truth telling” guilt trip at the dinner table was brilliantly done. As the film progresses, we finally get to see her vulnerability and show real sympathy for her. The final moments are a fitting end note to an impeccable performance by an incredible actress. Just watch it!

Family secrets are revealed, unexpected twists and turns jump up, it all kicks off and then . . . ends quite abruptly. The ending was to be expected but it seemed to wrap up all too quickly and loosely but then when are family matters ever really resolved? But after so much build up, tension and great acting, maybe a little more time could have been spared on the final minutes, especially when one of the characters drives away in an unexpected direction. I’m staying as cryptic as possible as I want people to see this. Speaking as someone from a big family, there were so many personalities that reminded me of my own. The dinner table scene demonstrated that perfectly, especially when Violet told the men off for taking their jackets off at the table and watching them put them back on like scorned children. I haven’t seen the play that this was based on but I would very much like to now. Some may argue that the pace doesn’t justify the means but I don’t believe so. I think it allowed the simmering tension to bring to the boil perfectly, making it better for it.

All in all, well shot, well written, well acted, well done! Hazaar! In Streep we trust 4/5

Currently ranks #14 out of 133!