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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run | Review

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Remember the time when SpongeBob SquarePants was an insanely creative children’s television program, filled with colorful characters, the best kind of childish humor, and an overall positive vibe? Remember that? If you were a child that grew up in the early 2000s, you probably remember SpongeBob‘s peak era. I watched it religiously as a child, which prompted me to force my parents to subject themselves to the 2004 film, co-directed by the late Stephen Hillenburg.

In my opinion, SpongeBob stopped being good after episode 105a aired (The Splinter). It slowly started kowtowing to gross-out body humor, the jokes became less creative, and storylines were repeated. After the [excellent] 2015 film Sponge Out of Water, I personally felt it was time to retire SpongeBob. A third movie was the perfect opportunity to give the beloved character one last adventure with his best friends, whilst at the same time celebrating Hillenburg’s career, who tragically passed away from ALS in 2018. However, it took the death of Hillenburg for Nickelodeon to start milking the cow of SpongeBob and craft its latest film, Sponge on the Run, as the backdoor for neverending spin-off shows for Paramount’s new streaming service, Paramount+. The end result is a half-fun, half soul-crushing experience that will leave some of SpongeBob’s most die-hard fans disappointed by seeing a transmedial franchise continue without its creator and a sense of finality.

Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run' skips theatre run for digital debut

The plot follows the same storyline from Have You Seen This Snail? (63), where SpongeBob (Tom Kenny)’s snail, Gary, is lost (again!). This time, however, he is kidnapped by Plankton (Mr. Lawrence), who delivers Gary to King Poseidon (Matt Berry) so he can use Gary’s saliva to rejuvenate his skin (I kid you not). What happens next? SpongeBob and Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) go on a road trip to find and rescue Gary from the “evil” clutches of Posideon.

The “road trip” is as formulaic as you’d expect, since this storyline has already been done in the 2004 film, but some of it is very good. There are times where I was brought back to the early days of SpongeBob SquarePants when it wasn’t about gross-out humor or easily childish jokes. In SpongeBob’s peak era, the jokes served a purpose to the story and the characters, making them more compelling than they already were. There are expressions of that in Sponge on the Run, particularly with SpongeBob and Patrick’s chemistry. When they annoy Squidward Tentacles (Rodger Bumpass) during its opening scene, by repeating “Goooood morning Patrick!”, “Gooood morning Spongebob!” until the joke climaxes to “Gooood morning Squidward!”, the voice acting and comedic timing felt like pure Hillenburg SpongeBob.

The voice acting, from Kenny, Fagerbakke, Bumpass, Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs, and Mr. Lawrence, retains Hillenburg’s spirit, and many physical gags are created in that same vein. One great addition to the voice cast is Awkwafina as Otto, a robot who has its share of hilarious jokes. One scene, in particular, involving Mr. Krabs getting the robot from Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence) had me howling. It felt, oh, so refreshing to see care for SpongeBob again after the television series has well overstayed its welcome. Those jokes feel like a set-up for the end of SpongeBob, as it celebrates its heart and retains its pure, freeing, childish spirit. The 3D animation is also surprisingly good, giving the audience a fresh new look at Bikini Bottom and bringing eye-popping, lush colors to Poseidon’s kingdom, The Lost City of Atlantic City. Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the simple 2D animation of the first two films. When it went into 3D, in Sponge Out of Water, it had a purpose because the characters went “out of the water.” In Sponge on the Run, there is no difference in style and aesthetic between the hybrid sequences and the purely animated ones.

Netflix's SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run: Keanu Reeves' Sage steals the  show | Stuff.co.nz

Speaking of hybrid sequences, the one scene mixing live-action and animation feels inherently pointless and is only there “just because” the previous two films did it. The celebrity cameos from Keanu Reeves (who then becomes a supporting character), Snoop Dogg, and Danny Trejo are fun (I guess) but are also inherently pointless. There was no reason for Snoop Dogg to magically cameo, save for giving a badly directed and choreographed musical number. There was also no reason for Danny Trejo to be in the film, save for a bad physical joke involving an eclectic mesh of cowboys, pirates, and zombies. All of these jokes feel like second-grade humor and stop the story from moving forward for a good fifteen minutes. Still, this isn’t SpongeBob at its most creatively inept. That comes later.

In one sequence, as SpongeBob and Patrick are on the cusp of execution from King Poseidon, the audience will witness SpongeBob SquarePants’ death. Not by execution, but through Tim Hill’s screenplay. The entire sequence serves as a set-up to endless spinoffs and prequel series from SpongeBob without Stephen Hillenburg’s approval. Every 30 seconds, the film stops to give a glimpse to the audience at what SpongeBob‘s first spinoff series, Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, could look like. If one spinoff series has already been approved and released, imagine the ones involving Bikini Bottom that are being developed as we speak… Nobody at Nickelodeon is telling studio executives to slow down or “STOP!” producing endless pieces of SpongeBob “content,” with their sole intent is to make as much money as possible.

During this sequence, die-hard fans will see no way out of SpongeBob, as it will slowly grow as stale as a soap opera without the ending it deserves. Sponge on the Run should’ve been SpongeBob’s last hurrah, his last grandiose adventure, with Bikini Bottom’s characters finally completing their cyclical arcs. Instead, the film acts as a shameless money-grab with no real throughline but to sell as many derived transmedial products as possible, whether be other TV shows, pieces of merchandise, or, heck, a Paramount+ subscription, without ever once caring for Stephen Hillenburg’s legacy. How do I know? The film’s in memoriam tribute at the end abruptly shifts to a terrible rendition of SpongeBob’s theme by Tainy and J Balvin, spitting on everything Stephen Hillenburg has accomplished for 19 years. Stephen Hillenburg deserved better. Early SpongeBob fans deserved better. It’s time to retire this franchise once and for all, as soon as possible, to preserve its legacy as one of the greatest children’s cartoons of all-time. Nickelodeon would be doing themselves a service before they hit total creative bankruptcy.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is now available to rent or buy on video-on-demand and streaming on Paramount+

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HORROR

Halloween Kills

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Michael Myers terrifies the townsfolk of Haddenfield once again. halloween Kills uses elements from the 1978 original and fuses them with tense, gruesome and gore, it’s BLOODY BRUTAL!!!

In 2018 David Gordon Green’s Halloween, starring icon Jamie Lee Curtis, killed at the box office, earning more than $250 million worldwide, becoming the highest grossing chapter in the four-decade franchise and setting a new record for the biggest opening weekend in history for a horror film starring a woman. 

However that Halloween night when Michael Myers returns isn’t over yet as the movie picks up right where we left off from the last one. Laurie Strode (Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (And Matichak)  have left the masked monster caged and burning in Laurie’s basement, Laurie however is rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries and believes that she’s finally killed her lifelong tormentor. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

But when Michael manages to free himself from Laurie’s trap, his ritual bloodbath resumes. As Laurie fights her pain and prepares to defend herself against him, she inspires all of Haddenfield to rise up against their unstoppable monster. 

The Strode women join a group of other survivors of Michael’s first rampage who decide to take matters into their own hands, forming a vigilante mob that sets out to hunt Michael down, once and for all.

Evil Dies Tonight. 

And speaking of evil, everything about this depiction of Michael is phenomenal. From his onscreen chilling presence, to his mask and the way he commits these brutal murders. Michael’s rampage through Haddenfield is pure carnage, he absolutely demolishes everyone and everything is his path. He’s let loose and becomes an even bigger dangerous threat, which is to be expected from masked killers. 

His kills are inventive and vicious and he’s gone one step ahead with the performance of killing someone as I felt that Michael has some theatricality aspects and truly admires his work by the way he displays their bodies. However I felt that some kills were forgettable due to the fact that we don’t get to care for some characters as by the time they’re in Michael’s line of sight, you know they’re a gonna. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

For fans of horror and violence in movies, there are many spine-chilling moments such as Skull crushing, eye-gouging, gunshots and plenty of bodily horror. 

And if you’re a fan of the original 1978 Halloween film, you’ll be pleased to see many of the actors who were once children, teenagers in the original reprise the same roles in Halloween Kills as adults. It feels so believable and genuine to see the likes of Kyle Richards (Lindsey Wallace ), Nancy Stephens (Marion Chambers) and Charles Cyphers (Sheriff Leigh Brackett) . The film truly pays homage to the original that started it all. many other characters return from the 2018 film and another classic character returning is Tommy Doyle, though recast and now played by Anthony Michael Hall. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

With all these characters the film switches the narrative by focusing in on how the town itself responds and reacts to Michael as the Haddonfield townspeople are fed up and exhausted after 40 years of trauma which was brought on by Michael Myers. We follow groups of unlikely heroes throughout the town armed and ready to take out an unstoppable force of nature by any means necessary. Tommy rallies the whole community to band together. They don’t listen to the Police so this film shows what happens when a town is dissatisfied with a failed system and a useless authority. All hell breaks loose and a mob is formed, this becomes a story that isn’t about Laurie vs Michael, instead about Michael vs Haddonfield itself. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

The movie’s central location takes place within a hospital, we see bodies being swarmed in as a result of Michael. Fear starts growing within the town which unfortunately morphs into panic and eventually utter complete chaos when misinformation and rumours star to spread. I felt that the residents of Haddenfield’s true enemy was their own idiotic decisions, society and rage has made them the monsters. 

Cinematography is certainly elevated this time with unique camera angels showcasing the murders. John Carpenter’s score is beautiful and certainly adds suspense to certain scenes. I also love the film’s nods and nostalgia throughout flashbacks to 1978. 

Overall Halloween Kills is a solid setup and middle chapter of this trilogy. It’s a fun popcorn flick with the right amount of slasher, horror and humour. It also sets into motion what will eventually become Halloween Ends. 

Photo: Blumhouse/Universal

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After We Fell- Review

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After We Fell is the third instalment of the “After” series, based on a series of fanfiction published on Wattpad in 2011 by Anna Todd. The film stars Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Hardin Scott and Josephine Langford as Tessa, the leading couple. This film follows the pair as they face troubles as Tessa makes a life-changing decision, her estranged father gets back in touch, and Hardin’s family secrets begin to unravel. Check out the trailer below.

The film is laden with issues. The script is awful, you can really tell it was fan fiction from Wattpad. The dialogue makes you cringe and it really doesn’t sell that these people and their relationships are real. The direction is just about competent, the acting is barely passable, and the story is predictable and vapid. I’m sure the cast has great acting chops, but they can’t flex them here in the slightest. Every ‘twist’ is set up so badly that when the jaw-dropping reveals happen, anyone who has been paying attention has seen it coming for the last hour. The story isn’t engaging. It sets things up that don’t really go anywhere. The characters outside of the central duo are completely interchangeable and they feel superfluous to the story. Anyone who isn’t Hardin or Tessa feels like they’re there just to fill the vacuum between awfully shot sex scenes until the credits mercifully roll.

I could go on for hours about how this fails on every level as a film, but honestly, I don’t think its intended audience cares about cinematography, screenwriting, or production design etc.- which is fine, most people don’t care about those things as long as the story is engaging and enjoyable- (if they did this wouldn’t have many fans). The film clearly knows its target audience is teenagers, the type of person who reads fan fiction on Wattpad about One Direction. The film has a few, shall we say, ‘intimate’ scenes, which are cleverly edited to ensure a 15 rating. During those cleverly edited moments, there is always a shot where the camera cuts away to show Harden getting a condom and opening it, so the audience knows that even ‘bad boys’ like Harden Scott use protection. And then during one scene where they don’t show Harden getting a condom, the next morning the two mention how they didn’t use protection the night before and have a brief discussion about contraception. Which is great, encouraging safe sex is always great, regardless of how you do it. However, people should not be having sex with someone as manipulative and toxic as Harden, even if he is wearing a condom. This is a nice segue into the real problem with After We Fell.



The biggest issue with this film and the whole After series, in general, is the relationship at the centre of it. Hardin is controlling, possessive, and aggressive. One evening in After We Fell, Tessa and Hardin are enjoying a romantic time in a hot tub. After being interrogated by her boyfriend, Tessa eventually confesses to briefly having feelings for someone else while they were broken up and Hardin storms off and ignores her for the rest of the night. He disrespects a waiter who is innocently talking to Tessa, he stalks her, harasses her. In some scenes, it feels like he is only a step away from hitting her. At best their relationship is toxic and at worst it’s abusive and manipulative. And despite all of this, their relationship is presented as romantic and merely “troubled”. Hardin is dominating and proprietorial, he refuses to listen to Tessa, he lashes out at her, invades her privacy, and then someone assures Tessa: he only acts this way because he loves her. He is the way he is; he does the things he does, out of love. The writers and the characters act as though Hardin being extremely toxic and pretty much abusive is sweet and caring. It’s difficult to write a review of the film when the overarching concept and theme is just too wrong to look past. This is not a well-made film, but I’ve seen many poorly made films that are an absolute blast. This being a bad film, though, doesn’t matter because its issues run so much deeper than just below-par technicalities.

The idea of young people watching this and imagining that this kind of relationship is not only normal but romantic and passionate is genuinely concerning. If this is the standard filmmakers set for romantic relationships for young people, it is extremely worrying. This film is rated as appropriate for 15-year-olds. However, the subject matter and the type of relationship this is romanticising warrants an 18 rating. No 15-year-old girl should be watching this and thinking that it is a good relationship, that Hardin is a troubled but sweet person, which is how the film presents it. This is really one of the most irresponsible film series being made right now; it’s borderline dangerous.

After We Fell hits Amazon Prime on 22 October.

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Comic Book Movies

Venom: Let There Be Carnage A Dark Comedy Infused With Fast-paced Action

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‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ was absolutely Full of CARNAGE. It’s a dark comedy infused with fast-paced action and the relationship between Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and Venom was like watching an old married couple. And Woody Harrelson’s performance was CHAOTIC in a good way. 

After so many potential release dates due to the film being delayed, Venom: Let There Be Carnage was officially released in Cinemas here in the UK on Friday the 15th of October. It is the sequel to Sony’s 2018 film Venom in where the Symbiote links himself with a host and used their bodies to service. Venom now lives amongst us but Eddie Brock struggles to adjust to his new life as the host of the alien symbiote. Venom grants him super-human abilities in order to be a lethal vigilante. Brock attempts to reignite his Journalism career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who becomes the host of the symbiotic Carnage and escapes prison after a failed execution. 

The film wastes no time and dives straight into the storyline which dives deeper into the origin of Serial Killer Cletus Kasady. Harrelson’s performance as said earlier was Chaotic in the best way possible as his character encapsulates the rage and insanity. His performance was brilliantly matched by Tom Hardy who reprises his role as Eddie Brock, his chemistry with Venom is once again the true highlight of the film. The duo of Harrelson and Hardy work great as frenemies.

Speaking of venom this is truly where the film shines. Since this is a continuation from the first movie, Venom fells more settled inside his host and is more comfortable as Eddie’s conscience. However their rocky relationship has caused a lot of problems for Brock as both want to do different things for example, Eddie just wants to get on with his life and get his career back up and running, Venom does comply however he lusts for brains and chocolate. he feels stuck and wants to be free, but unfortunately cannot control his impulses. 

They argue, fight and trash Eddie’s apartment. This is a very venomous love affair between them both but in an interesting scene, Venom attends a rave and opens up and i’m not kidding about his love for Eddie. Director Andy Serkis opens up about this particular scene saying that it was Tom’s idea to have Venom sort of Come out and go to a party that was a ideally an LGBTQIA festival. Venom speaks for freedom of others by asking to stop this cruel treatment of aliens. 

At it’s heart this film is a love story about the extraordinary relationship between symbiote and host. 

Reprising their roles from the first film are Michelle Williams (Anne Weying) , Reid Scott (Dan Lewis) and Peggy Lu as Mrs. Chen. I felt all have less screen time during the film but these characters are vital to help Eddie’s journey and Venom’s. 

However I felt Naomi Harris was criminally underused. Her character Shriek acts more as a walking plot device than an actual character, though she does brilliantly on what the writers have given her to do. Another Character i felt that had potential but little to do was Stephen Graham, his character felt more like another plot device to tease the sequel. 

With a new director to the franchise, Andy series brings a new quality to the story and action due to his knowledge of motion capture, the VFX on the symbiote’s are outstanding and realistic.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a step up from the first film. It’s a fun 90 minutes and OMG do not miss the credits!!!!!

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