Monday, January 12, 2015

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie (2004) Review:

Who knew creator Stephen Hillenburg would have made such a success off of the concept of a talking sponge? After five years of running Nickelodeon's Spongebob Squarepants (1999) TV series, it was time for the little square dude to hit the big screen. By 2004, Spongebob had quickly gained traction as a popular and memorable children's icon, so there was no doubt that in order to boost popularity (and of course profitability) a theatrical film had to be made. However, that doesn't mean it was an easy task. The reason for this being is that cartoon adaptations (whether live-action converted or not) have had trouble before extending their 10-20 minute running time into a full length feature. Failures like this happened frequently all the time due to poor advertising, basing the movie on older cartoons that not many kids at the time were familiar with or because the original cartoon only relied on a single gag. It's definitely a risk. Thankfully, Hillenburg was directing so he oversaw everything and for what it's worth, it turned out well.

Plotting much?
Like many other episodes prior to this, Plankton is still trying to find a way to steal the secret Krabby Patty formula from Eugene Krabs, owner of the Krusty Krab. After Krabs earns enough money, he decides to open up another Krusty Krab restaurant. So to get back at Krabs, Plankton devises his most evil plan by stealing King Neptune's crown and framing Krabs for the crime. It's at this point that Spongebob decides that it's his destiny to return Neptune's crown back to him. However, he only has 6 days, for if he doesn't come back in time Krabs will be burnt to a crisp. Starting with the characters themselves, it is nice to see all the major characters in this feature and some added bonuses. Unlike other children TV show turned movies, not every character makes it the screen, but that's not the case here. All the important voice-actors return to their specific roles with no vocal changes or other differentiations. Although I must question why Jeffrey Tambor voiced King Neptune, when originally it was John O'Hurley.

Even actors Scarlett Johansson, Alec Baldwin and David Hasselhoff play a role of which are important. Johansson plays Mindy, Neptune's daughter of which Patrick has a crush on (and yet somehow hasn't appeared in any other episode after this). Baldwin plays a bounty hunter named Dennis who makes good use of his gruff voice to sound menacing enough to be a villain. Along with the preservation of all the original characters, comes the preservation of the comedy which remains in tact. All the characters audiences’ will know and enjoy see no drastic change to their favorite character and that's good. Spongebob is still light-hearted, Patrick is still dimwitted, Squidward still self-centered, Krabs still greedy and Plankton still evil. However there is one scene that depicts the act of being drunk and although there's no alcohol being shown, it is questionable to why that would be shown. Yes it is adult content and something for older viewers to get but it's not something we would want kids to learn about so early would we?

The only other issue the writers (whom all have worked with the TV series prior) are a bunch of continuity errors. In TV, it is more acceptable due to the budget, lack of materials and short running time. Yet for an hour and a half, there are so many things that slip by the viewers eyes that bring up a few "Hold up" moments. An example of this is when two people are traveling in the same direction and yet the one who's further behind makes it to the destination first without the other person seeing them. How does that work? Of course there is more than one way to go places but here it is depicted quite linearly so it contradicts itself. Another good example is that nobody in the fictional town of Bikini Bottom seem to remember that Plankton's evil. How is that the case? Is everyone that crazy about food so much that they can't find another eating establishment to go feed themselves? Yikes. But I digress because these kinds of things are only if one wants to take this particular universe so seriously.

Look at the concentration
Besides this though, making it noticeably better are the visual effects to the film. The animation is more fluid and looks more defined with brighter colors. There's also a small bit live-action animation which looks well made too. Credit to Mark Osborne for directing this particular section of the movie. The live-action cinematography by Jerzy Zielinski also looked good. It didn't make the animation stand out, it just blended nicely. Lastly the musical score composed by Gregor Narholz is decent enough to pass as entertaining. There is one pivotal scene in the movie where it can be quite emotional and it's important that a composer can bring that out in the audience and Narholz proves he can do it. Although because it already has had music composed, Jeremy Wakefield's signature tunes will pop in from time to time and that's fine.

Aside from some glaring continuity errors and one scene that is perhaps too adult oriented, Spongebob's first theatrical big screen movie is entertaining as his TV show. The characters remain unchanged for the better, which keeps their charm and comedic timing. The animation, live-action footage and music are well constructed too.

Points Earned --> 7:10

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