This is a weird week, one that has me giddily excited about two films that I’m fairly certain aren’t going to be very good. In fact, both have the potential to be absolute disasters. And yet I’ve been anxiously awaiting both of them like 13-year old me bouncing around waiting for whatever early-80s special effects fest had me excited that particular week. There’s talent behind the two films to be sure, but it’s nostalgia and incredibly lowered expectations ruling the day here.
First, let’s get the film that has no interest for me out of the way. I know SpongeBob SquarePants is pretty well admired by both kids and adults, and I’m sure it’s better than a lot of the animated kids fare out there. But the show has never really appealed to me, and so, logically, neither does The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. The show has been plugging along for fifteen years now, so it’s not like there isn’t an audience for this. And it’s widely expected to finally knock American Sniper out of the top spot and win the weekend. So it figures I have zero desire to look at it. Oh well. At least it’s not another Smurf movie.
Seventh Son feels like it’s been on the horizon since there were only five sons. It had two different release dates in 2013 it moved away from, and then bailed out of 2014 altogether to finally land here. That’s movie talk for, “We don’t know what the hell we have here and editing isn’t helping the problem.” Jeff Bridges appears to be once again channeling Rooster Cogburn, and Julianne Moore looks like she took lessons from the Jeremy Irons School of Fantasy Villainy. And yet I desperately want to see this. For one thing, the monster designs are hitting a sweet spot for me, evoking the heavily-illustrated feel of one of the newer D&D or Pathfinder monster manuals. And I’m just a sucker for a big stupid fantasy quest movie like we used to get more of back when I was a kid. The Lord of the Rings films sort of put an exclamation point on the genre — those that weren’t too afraid to walk in their footsteps tried to be as momentous and serious and didn’t always have the chops for it — but I certainly wouldn’t mind some light-hearted sword and sorcery action a little more often. This is a film I’ll probably convince myself I like more than I actually do just because it’s not abjectly terrible.
And finally, there’s what promises to be the glorious mess that is Jupiter Ascending. This movie looks like what you’d get if a pre-teen from the 1980s managed to send forward in time a description of a typical issue of Heavy Metal after eating a dozen packs of Pop Rocks. Galactic empires! Space princesses! Spaceships! Laser beams! Channing Tatum as a dog-man man-dog thing! It’s the Wachowskis at work, so you know it’s going to look spectacular. Speed Racer is an underappreciated gem, and a second viewing of Cloud Atlas really turned me around on that one, so I don’t see them limping into this one in the slightest. And it might be weird and over-the-top silly, but it’s my kind of weird and over-the-top silly. If we’re lucky, we’re getting the DeLaurentis Flash Gordon for the 21st century. If we’re unlucky, we’re getting lots of really cool things to look at. I’ll take it. And if nothing else, at least this film will teach the world that there are other words for “moving in an upward direction” besides “rising.”