On a mission to save his world, SpongeBob SquarePants is headed to ours. When pirate Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas) steals the secret recipe for the beloved Krabby Patties, SpongeBob and friends come ashore to bring back the missing formula. To succeed, they must team up with former rival, Plankton, but soon realize that to defeat a super-villain, they must unleash their inner superheroes.
Ever since the day that 'SpongeBob Squarepants' first debuted on television, it has received a bad rap. From the outside, it looks like nothing more than a purely 100 percent stupid kids show – which isn't unwarranted - but the adults who have actually stopped to watch the show with their kids know that there's quite a bit more to it than just that purely stupid façade. Like it's tiny, squishy, quirky central character, there's a good heart and intelligence hidden beneath the surface of the series, including a great amount of comedy that extends beyond the slapstick silly comedic taste of the children to whom the show primarily panders.
Eleven years ago, Paramount gave us the first 'SpongeBob SquarePants' movie - and it was hilarious. The difference between that movie and 'Sponge Out of Water' is that this tale isn't just a 90-minute episode. Instead, the stakes are raised. The ante has been upped. As movies are meant to do, this one takes place on a grand scale that affects more than just the single main character and starfish sidekick; the fate of everyone in Bikini Bottom is at stake.
'Sponge Out of Water' opens with a live-action sequence that introduces us to series' narrator, Burger Beard, played by Antonio Banderas. This grungy pirate runs a solo operation. On a small ship, he and his crew of talking and singing CG seagulls have finally found themselves at the small island that we see in the opening of each 'SpongeBob' episode. Burger Beard heads for the shore and finds a 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'-esque guarded pirate treasure: a large bound book that has an image of the Krabby Patty super secret special recipe emblazoned on the cover. After stealing the book from a living skeleton and getting back to his boat, Burger Beard begins reading the tail within, which takes us down to the animated Bikini Bottom that we would expect to see any 'SpongeBob SquarePants' episode.
Our Bikini Bottom story begins by throwing us straight into the middle of the story (although an included deleted scene gives us a proper introduction to the characters and what's about to happen). Plankton is about to commence his most in-depth and promising mission yet to steal the Krabby Patty formula from Mr. Krabs, once and for all. Just when it's about to happen, something magical takes place that keeps Plankton from stealing the recipe – but it also sends the fate of bikini bottom spiraling out of control. The recipe has mysteriously disappeared from existence in front of Plankton and SpongeBob. Believing that SpongeBob has been in cahoots with Plankton all along, Krabs and Bikini Bottom head out after the two of them with the belief that they stole the recipe for themselves. While every character that we know snaps into a post-apocalyptic mode within burning Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob and Plankton are forced to forge a two-man team to save the day. To do so will require them to trust one another, travel through a little bit of time and seek help from those who they least expect to offer it.
'Sponge Out of Water' is a homerun. Sure, it helps to be a SpongeBob fan to have the desire to want to see it, but you don't have to know the franchise in order to enjoy it. I can easily see 'Sponge Out of Water' creating fans out of those who previously avoided it. Not only is it consistently hilarious, the climax, which places the central characters in CG form into the live-action real world, is creative, fun and full of delightful action.
I have always heard of (but never actually read) studies that claim that 'SpongeBob Squarepants' kills brain cells. Even if that's the case, 'Sponge Out of Water' is totally worth it. If the decision to watch it truly sends brain cells on a suicide mission, then it's absolutely worth while.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Paramount has given 'Sponge Out of Water' a three-disc 3D Blu-ray release that includes a BD-50 that's almost entirely dedicated to the 3D presentation of the film, another BD-50 that contains the 2D version and a treasure chest full of special features, a DVD with the main 2D feature and a code good for redeeming either an iTunes or an Ultraviolet digital copy. Thanks to a hinge arm within the blue elite keepcase, none of the discs are stacked one upon the other. The plastic case slides vertically into a lenticular cardboard keepcase. Nothing but a Paramount High-Definition vanity reel plays prior to the main menu on the 3D disc, but the 2D Blu-ray also contains skippable trailers for 'SpongeBob' DVDs, the 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' reboot and one of the excessive 'Transformers' sequels.
'Sponge out of Water' contains a great 3D 1080p/MVC MPEG-4 video transfer. The depth, texture and clarity to this disk are near-reference quality. Be it the animated underwater sequences or the above-water live-action sequences, the third dimension is always brought out in the finest form. SpongeBob's hotdog-like nose will always protrude from his rectangular body. Tiny specks of floating sea debris can always be seen within different planes in the underwater scenes. The same multiplane effect is used effectively when it rains Kabby Patties in the opening animated sequence. The 3D presentation never lets up and, surprisingly, never uses eye-popping cheesy effects that do not work well. My solitary complaint with this transfer is a split-second moment which reveals crosstalk. It happens during a time travel sequence in which we get flashes of images on the screen. Like a subliminal message, the one that sticks out as being ghost-like is a black & white silhouetted shot. That's literally it. Everything else is perfect.
Just the awesome 3D rendering, the 2D version is just as impressive. Featuring a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode, this version of the film also contains great detail. The animation is smooth and sharp, fine lines appearing at every moment. It is colorful, pleasing to the eye, and even creative in style – especially during the time travel sequences. When our characters jump into the live-action world, we get great details and textures unlike we're used to seeing in the animated 'SpongeBob' world. This is most prominently visible during the scenes that feature Antonio Banderas. The individual strands of his nappy beard and curly hair can all be seen. The clothes that he wears are visibily as worn and tattered as you'd expect them to be. Solely featuring bright daytime shots, the contrast is great, allowing the colors to pop just as much during the live action sequences as they do during the standard animation sequences.
All around, this disc is wonderful. The only gripe that anyone can have with the 3D disc is the briefest episode of crosstalk. If you stick with the 2D version, you're getting full-time reference-quality content
Sponge out of water contains a wonderful 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. It's just as alive and playful as the movie's wacky characters.
The first time that we see Burger Beard is from behind. We hear his voice as he trims through the island jungle talking to himself. If you've seen 'Puss In Boots' and didn't know that Antonio Banderas was cast in 'Sponge out of Water,' then this is the moment that you would immediately recognize him by his voice. With animation, it's a requirement to have the vocals sound good. The animated performance relies heavily upon the talent of the voice actors. 'Sponge out of Water' wasn't made by amateurs who didn't know this, so the vocal quality of the picture is awesome. Voices are always rich deep and enjoyable – including all of the usual players and even non-cast member Antonio Banderas.
This is the best that 'SpongeBob' has ever sounded. In the music department, there's a great richness that plays with the music - the same music that you're used to getting from the series. The gentle and relaxing sounds of Hawaiian-ish music is flooded throughout the entire space. It's like you're immersed in a pool of music sound. The moment this music kicks in, it'll catch your attention because of how good it sounds - but nothing compares to the effects mix that plays alongside it.
More than ever, 'SpongeBob' is delivering dynamic effects with this mix. Our opening Bikini Bottom sequence gives us a military plane seamlessly imaging from back-to-front so well that it sounds as if there are speakers mounted in the ceiling. I don't have Dolby Atmos in my home (yet), but if every 5.1 mix was as strong as this, you might not need it. Following the plane in this scene are munitions and explosions galore, all of which are individually spread throughout the space and create a wonderfully realistic aural experience.
To think that all of this is coming from a show that supposedly kills brain cells.
All of the many special features included are entirely exclusive to the 3D and 2D Blu-ray releases.
Even if I didn't have children, I'd still be a fan of 'SpongeBob Squarepants.' In fact, I was watching the Nickelodeon series long before my kids came along. There's something satisfying about the stupid timeless humor blended with the smarter underlying comedy. 'Sponge Out of Water' not only features those expected laugh-earning elements, but it amplifies them for this feature-length tale. Along with it, the story is inflated to a size we've not previously seen in the 'SpongeBob' world – and it absolutely works. The 3D presentation is spectacular, only featuring one split-second eye-sore flaw that 3D afficionados will notice. Aside from that, it's perfect. With the 3D not playing a part on the 2D disc, the 2D version is flawless on its own. No matter whether live-action or CG, the video presentations are wonderful. Just like the story and video, the audio has been amped up for this second 'SpongeBob' feature film. The lossless 5.1 mix is constantly active and 100 percent dynamic, easily the best-sounding 'SpongeBob' has ever been. With more than 90 minutes of solid special features, 'Sponge Out of Water' is an all-around over-achiever that I'm glad to have in 3D and 2D forms within my Blu-ray library.