Friday, 14 February 2014

Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters (2013)

Most of the main players return for this sequel to Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief, an adventure that sees Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) and friends embark on a quest to get the golden fleece. The fleece is essential because the tree that guards Camp Half-Blood, by providing the protective barrier, is dying and needs to be rejuvenated before the camp residents are left open to attack from those who wish them harm. The group will have to work together to overcome the many obstacles that will be placed in their path, which might inadvertently teach them a thing or two about each other.

I enjoyed this movie, but I enjoyed it despite the many flaws. I enjoyed it because I liked spending time with the characters established in the first instalment (many of them return, although Anthony Head takes over the role that was played by Pierce Brosnan), I liked a number of the new characters introduced, and I loved a lot of the design work and visual effects.

Unfortunately, director Thor Freudenthal and writer Marc Guggenheim seem to think that the first movie wasn't quite goofy enough. They pile on humour during a number of comedic sequences that just aren't all that funny. Admittedly, this may be a problem that affects the source novel (by Rick Riordan), but I try to judge a movie simply as a movie. Which is easy in this case, as I've not actually read any of the Percy Jackson books, though I may give them a try one day. Not all of the humour falls flat. There's one sequence that allows Nathan Fillion to do what he does best, and that had me at least smiling throughout.

The cast all do a good enough job, with Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson and Alexandra Daddario easily slipping back into their main roles, Douglas Smith proving to be a surprisingly kind and sweet cyclops, and Leven Rambin does fine as a tough girl who makes the main character lose confidence in himself. Jake Abel manages to get plenty of screentime, and also manages to put in a better performance than he did in the first movie. It's perhaps telling that there aren't really any bigger names filling out the supporting roles, but Head, Fillion and Stanley Tucci have fun with their small roles, while the likes of Robert Knepper, Missi Pyle, Ron Perlman and Craig Robinson are also in the mix, even if they're either less recognisable or only lending their voices to the endeavour.

Despite being underwhelmed by Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, I enjoyed a number of the big set-pieces and I'd like to see a third movie in this series. Hell, I'd like to see a fourth. But I don't know if that will happen now. The first film wasn't exactly the box office juggernaut that I'm sure the studio wanted, and this sequel performed, as far as I can tell, at about the same level. Movie studios don't always forgive one disappointment, let alone two. It's viewers like me that do that.


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