film Jeff Bridges

Some Movies to See This Weekend, February 6, 2015

Friday, February 06, 2015 Rob Samuelson

If this weekend is to be believed, February may now be viewed by film studios as a bit of a testing ground for new franchise material. There are three new releases, two some fairly large budgets and some big names. The other is a cinematic effort from a big name on the cartoon circuit, but even that is a bit of a gamble by Hollywood standards these days.

Jupiter Ascending
Directors: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Writers: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Starring: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne

This one looks positively bonkers. It's an original concept science fiction-space opera kind of thing involving a secret alien princess (Kunis) being protected by a space elf (Tatum, with a fake blond chinstrap beard and pointy ears) as the galaxy's overlords try to kill her before she can assume her true position of power. Kunis's character's name is actually Jupiter, showing some silliness on the Wachowskis' (The Matrix trilogy, Speed Racer) end, a nice bit of goofy literalism and old school sci-fi charm. Everything about the movie looks like it is taken from a grade school library's sci-fi shelf, one of those dogeared paperbacks with the painted covers of faraway planets and wars. It's nice to see Kunis getting a big time starring role after she hasn't quite broken out after her supposed star-making role in Black Swan nearly five years ago now. Tatum looks like he's enjoying the oddness of Hollywood stardom, too. I'm sold.

Seventh Son
Director: Sergei Bodrov
Writers: Charles Leavitt, Steven Knight, Matt Greenberg
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander

This is a hero's journey movie if there ever was one. Barnes stars as the bland Luke Skywalker type, an heir to a long line of sorcerers of some sort, who must go on an adventure with an old wizened beardy guy (Bridges). Calls will be refused, thresholds will be crossed, women will be temptresses, so on and so forth. It's all in how the story is told, of course, that matters. Bridges as a past-his-prime wizard might be the biggest no-brainer casting decision in decades. Julianne Moore as a villainous witch sounds great to me. Dragons and stuff? Sure, why not?

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
Director: Paul Tibbitt
Writers: Glenn Berger, Jonathan Aibel, Stephen Hillenburg, Paul Tibbitt
Starring: Tom Kenny, Antonio Banderas, Bill Fagerbakke

I don't get SpongeBob Squarepants. Many people of my generation have taken to loving it, calling it Dadaism as a cartoon and other such nonsense. Basically, to my mind, they are making excuses for the insipid, purposefully annoying nature of the cartoon by slapping an avant-garde art term atop it. But hey, that's just me. I know a lot of people dig it.

In this new 3D adventure, SpongeBob follows the title literally, as he leaves his underwater fruit house to tussle with some pirates. Some of it is in live action, I believe. Go see it if that's your kind of thing. Please don't make me go with you.

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