Monday, August 19, 2013

A Monstrosity On Land & Sea

The Gods (and audiences) seem to have forsaken
Percy Jackson and The Sea of Monsters

ON CONTINUITY

ARTH VADER (AV): According to the seemingly endless hordes of visiting or residing teenagers in my home, this film follows the second book in the Percy Jackson chronicles pretty closely. That seemed to not help this movie very much ultimately but the fictional canon developed by author Rick Riordan for teens and tweens is adhered to. Furthering the life and times of Percy, the only living air to the ancient Greek God Poseidon, who lives in the mystical forest refuge of Half-Blood. Down to it's name, the movie follows it's roots fairly close. What did the great Pontificator think?

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): This is my first time seeing a Percy Jackson film Vader. I wasn’t aware this one comes from a book, but I got a crash course on everything that was wrong and deviant from the book... by the exuberant young man walking behind me with his father, recalling the entire book in a single breath. Apparently, the film doesn’t follow the book exactly, but really... what film ever does?

ACTING, CASTING AND DIRECTION

AV: There is no relevant acting in this film. Period. This is purely a kid's film–for kids, about kids. The acting is transparent and one dimensional in the few scenes it actually appear in. The cast is the same hum-drum cast of tween nobodies we saw in the first film and the film was directed by Thor Freudenthal (Hotel for Dogs). Ponty?

TP: For what this film is supposed to be (a kid friendly adventure), it was cast and directed well. I could feel my inner child connecting to the characters and the pace of the film satisfied by inner child’s ADD. Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson and Douglas Smith all played their roles as I would expect watching a film catered to 14 year olds. Jake Abel was enjoyable as the bad guy... and cements himself as the next generation’s typecast villain.


AV: It felt to me, Ponty, that this movie exhausted its effects budget on a few big effects shots. The rampaging mechanical bull was one, near the beginning of this story. That effect and sequence were terrific. Great looking, highly intense with lots of 3D eye candy monuments. The others were the giant sea monster and the end fight scene(s). Good looking scenes that are quickly forgotten because they don't enhance this story nor are they particularly memorable. 

TP: I wish I had seen this film in 3D Vader, as I saw the previews in 3D and thought the effects of such were amazing. Instead, I opted for the regular version and picked up on all the areas that would obviously make an impact in 3D. There are no breakthroughs here, but there are some effects done exquisitely well.... as well as some done very shoddy. The mechanical bull was brilliant, while the “Cyclops” effect for Tyson...indeed the Cyclops’ in the film, screamed of being faked and rushed. If more attention was given to every other special creature and effect as was the mechanical bull, I would be saying something very different and inspiring about the special effects.

TAKING A DEEPER LOOK

AV: This movie is riddled with holes old friend. Who sent the giant mechanical bull to attack camp half-blood? Bad guy Luke (Jake Abel)? Why? If Percy could just summon a wave to ride on, why did we need the giant Sea Horse? Why was it okay to ridicule Percy's half brother, Tyson? You're demigods, you're above all that–you have Satyrs walking around for God's Sake! Why is this movie called the Sea of Monsters and there is only one? If the outcome of this quest could end everything how come NONE of the Gods are involved—are they too busy? Confederate Zombies? Great idea, how do they have an automatic rail gun mounted on a ship that was built before that technology was available? Where do they get their power to light the frivolous Christmas lights? Percy and Tyson spend so much time hugging out their problems in front of Chronos' tomb that he actually has time to break free and start the apocalypse. C'mon Hollywood, you're better than this. Even for an empty-headed tween fantasy, this movie is a disaster!

Arth Vader's Bonus Anti-Percy Rant: At the core, this idea had promise that died in the hands of incompetent studio executives. Maybe it's my years showing here, Pontificator, but I am starting to wear thin on the 'special kid saves the world because us dumb adults can't do it' story arc. Harry Potter, Twilight, this year's forthcoming "Ender's Game" and even the Star Wars saga all head a sea of films where  the kid savior saves us all. Really? We're both Dads here P-Man and I can't speak for your kids but I can't get mine to even clean their room or not spill chips on the couch–thwarting an Alien armada or stopping ancient Gods from consuming our world seem, I don't know, a bit of a stretch? At least make these movies believable, not from a fact-based standpoint but from a human one. Tweens & Teens are notoriously lazy by nature, having them thwart Armageddon seems oh so out of touch—and they need to end. Thoughts, P-Man? 

TP: Agreed Vader, the plot was so holy, they should have shown the movie in a church. In taking a deeper look, there is not much deeper I have to go than the rating of the film... PG. This pretty much says everything I needed to know about the film for critical analysis. The characters were simple, the story was simple, the tone was friendly... there was not much else to this than for me to try to view it as my 14 year old daughter would. Sitting with her as she watches all her teen shows helped me enjoy the film more and curtailed any deeper criticism I might have had, unlike you O’ Dark One. I think the idea of the entire mythos of Percy Jackson is interesting and the mix of humor, drama and action, presented as it was, is a good segway into the heavier stuff the child fans of this film will be exposed to later.

ON SEQUELS

AV: This movie is derived from a popular (and not too shabbily written) series of teen adventure books that offer a number of further adventures for Percy. I think what this series needs is a sense of loss a sense of purpose and a return to the magic that got Riordan the fan readership he gained in the first place. Again, executives of Hollywood, two words here; SOURCE MATERIAL. Follow it, and win. 

TP: I don’t follow the books... but if they are anything like the Harry Potter machine, we can be sure that there will be more films coming to the silver screen.



RATE IT!

ARTH VADER rates Percy Jackson and The Sea of Monsters: I thought The Host would have been this year's worst film we would review here. I was wrong. Every empty-headed attempt at a feel-good moment in this film is botched as horribly as the screenplay was. The one bright light is the cameo of fan-boy ├╝ber-prince, Nathan Fillion whose appearance as Hermes was both fun and refreshing–with a great nod toward Firefly.

Even still, there is little I could find right with this film as I begrudgingly release just one (1) Busted Block in hopes that it, along with this film, will be quickly devoured by the Sea of Monsters, never to be heard from again. 

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters: Looking at it for what it is, this film was pretty good for it’s target audience. If you can connect with your inner child, then this film will make a connection with you. That said, with a mixed bag of effects (mostly on the negative side), simple story and characters... but innocent and pubescent fun, this movie spawned an immortal five (5) busted blocks. 


Percy Jackson and The Sea of Monsters: 3/10 Busted Blocks

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