Thursday, 19 December 2013

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013)

Much better film title this time around, loving the sound of it, alas if only the film was actually as good. The franchise moves on, the next chapter adapted from the novel of the same name, basically Greek mythology set within our present day and updated.

This time our young hero Percy must find the Golden Fleece to heal a magical tree that protects his home of Camp Half-Blood. The fleece can be found in the lair of the Cyclops Polyphemus which itself lies within the Sea of Monsters (Bermuda Triangle). So off our little intrepid adventurers go to find it and save the world as we know it...kinda. Oh and did I forget to mention there are some bad guys also trying to get the fleece to raise Kronos? well there you go.

In all honesty I can't really recall much about the first film, it got so easily lost in a whirlwind of Potter-mania and some other nondescript replicas, but I did seem to slightly enjoy it according to my review (yep I read em). This of course is still the main problem with this franchise and any other really...they will always be compared to the superior Harry Potter. The kid with specs set the bar high and was the first big budget fantasy of its kind to do really well. After that every else has seemed weak in comparison, merely average imitations.

This film does itself no favours simply because it looks average in the special effects department, a major flaw for a fantasy. Right from the start everything just looks lame, Camp Half-Blood just looks like some kind of summer holiday Cub Scout camp where you'd eat sausage n baked beans for dinner. The big creatures are obviously CGI and boy do they look it, most of them just stand out big time, that large mechanical bull that attacks the camp is laughable. There are various other big creatures throughout that are all CGI and none look any good frankly, accept for the odd close-up perhaps. The finale with Kronos is the same, if these were videogame in-game sequences I'd be impressed, but they aren't.

Some sequences really do look truly awful in fact, I'm amazed they got through into the finished film! When the young trio ride a big Seahorse thingy across the sea to reach the bad guys yacht, that is a bad one (oh and the yacht? that doesn't feel very fantasy-like does it, kinda out of place). They are riding a wet slippery sea creature at speed, yet they aren't holding on to anything, how do they stay on its back people?! plus they didn't seem all that wet afterwards. Then a bit later on in the same scene we see Percy and Luke ride/surf a big wave...don't ask it looks terrible, all the water effects look terrible.

The only bit of originality to rear its head appeared to be the concept of making the three Stygian witches cab drivers in a yellow New York cab. A unique approach for sure and one that sort of works I guess...but then I realised I'd seen a similar idea before in 'Scrooged'.

A common problem is the fact everything also seems so bland and derivative. All the characters are your bog standard types and offer nothing new, the hero, his sidekick, the female sidekick and the best friend who you know will get killed (and you also know will come back at the last minute). Next to that are the bog standard baddies led by the good looking charmer with blonde hair. I mean come least lets try and make the characters look different from the Potter clan Jesus! You don't care about any of them because they are all so cliched, we've seen this all before and you know none of them will come to harm anyway so what's the point?

I guess what bothered me the most was the film was clearly trying to be epic, every scene is accompanied by a strong musical score as if that will make it so. Its not meant to be a dark emotional journey with teen angst that's for sure, its a light-hearted fantasy that doesn't show much or any death, but everything is built up to enormous proportions only to let you down. You simply can't connect with any of the characters or what's going on because the whole thing is such a basic videogame with step by step action sequences. Complete one task against a CGI foe, move on to the next, complete that task against a CGI puzzle, move on to the next...and so forth.

You can tell the whole franchise isn't really going as planned seeing as this is only the second film and already the cast continuity has been compromised, two major characters recast. Still I gotta give some kudos for the attempt at bringing Greek mythology into the present day even though it doesn't really work, or should that be kudos for the novel?

Plenty of good morals throughout the adventure, lots of heroic actions and bouts of friendship that will make you gag, but the entire production is predictable, anti climatic and dull. A shoddy looking sequel which fails to better the first entry.