- The Washington Times - Monday, June 1, 2015

Highlights from Blu-ray home entertainment releases this week.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (Paramount Home Entertainment, Rated PG, $39.99) — Bikini Bottom’s famed residents dazzled movie audiences earlier this year by starring in a full-length, mixed-media cartoon.

The dazzle continues with its release to home theater screens offering a stunning high-definition port of the colorful and hilarious hijinks.

The tale finds our potent porifera and his cohorts Patrick Star, Sandy Cheeks, Mr. Crabbs, Squidward Tentacles and Plankton (hiss) in search of the missing Krabby Patty recipe that has turned their underwater paradise into an apocalyptic wasteland.

The group must eventually leave the ocean and venture into the real world to challenge a crusty, entrepreneurial pirate who has suddenly found success with his burger stand, shaped like a pirate ship, of course.

That slick final act brings the gang to the mainland for some superheroic, full-size action and is as exciting as when the Groovie Ghoulies actually came to real life (who remembers that old-timers?).

The digital transfer shines by highlighting in beautiful detail every variety of animation offered onscreen. Be it the more traditionally illustrated scenes in Bikini Bottom, some far-out, time-machine animations, a pinch of stop animation or the live-action, computer-animated fun, it’s an eye-popping experience.

The television cast provides frenetic voice acting (kudos to Tom Kenney’s enthusiastic performance even after 16 years as the famed Sponge) while Antonio Banderas’ live-action work as Burger-Beard the Pirate almost steals the show.

The Blu-ray disk comes bursting with eccentric extras found through a tentacled mess of navigation menus requiring some deep diving to find all of the goodies.

First, featurettes offer about 35 minutes of information about the production including a look at the voice-over cast, a discussion of one of the bigger special-effects sequences and the chance to watch the French, avant-garde short “A Day in the Life of a Sponge” (plant tongue firmly in cheek here).

Next, the family can join in multiple, karaoke-style songs such as “Thank Gosh It’s Monday,” “Teamwork” and “Theme Song/Rap Battle.”

And, finally, just so younger audiences remember this is just not about being silly, oceanographer Sylvia Earle stops by for about a 15-minute education on some of the real stars of the sea and the scientists researching them.

Jupiter Ascending (Warner Home Video, Rated PG-13, $44.95) — Famed creators of the “Matrix” franchise, the Wachowski Brothers offered movie audience a comedic, romantic, action-packed and bureaucratic vision of the future that fell flat with critics and movie audiences in early 2015.

This space opera’s redemption could lie in a Blu-ray release and its consumption by a cult following of reportedly female fans fascinated by the lead protagonist Jupiter Jones.

The over 2-hour-long tale focuses on Jupiter (played by Mila Kunis), a gal who rises from a toilet-cleaning maid in Chicago to galactic royalty due to her genetic good fortune.

With numerous political factions out to kill her, she gets help from a pair of genetically altered soldiers who are key to some of the wild special-effects sequences. The solders are Channing Tatum as Caine Wise (part human and part pooch), who sports jet boots and an on-demand shield, and Sean Bean as the rogue Stinger Apini (part human and part honeybee).

A fairly unoriginal sci-fi fantasy ensues plucking from such films as “Star Wars,” “Zathura,” “The Fifth Element,” “Dune,” “Brazil” and a pinch of “Soylent Green.”

Kudos to a hilarious appearance by Terry Gilliam as a soothing bureaucrat as Jupiter tries to work her way through an intergalactic DMV.

The visually impressive film does dazzle in the digital transfer with plenty of impressive space battles and chase scenes that will overwhelm the brain receptors of an average human.

The potential to complement the visual dynamite arrives with a Dolby Atmos or TrueHD 7.1 surround sound option to highlight a really noisy movie loaded with a booming musical score from Michael Giacchino that could easily peel paint off of walls.

Extras are a battery of promotional featurettes, seven in total, for about an hours worth of self-congratulatory fodder featuring cast and crew interviews with even some unwelcomed repetition.

The best featurette is a look at the enormous amount of effort spent on mixing practical and computer generated effects to show Caine jet booting around the galaxy and the streets of the Windy City.

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