Monday, September 30, 2013

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters gets a big waterlogged

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters movie review

One of the best words to describe this sequel to PercyJackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief is “demi-good.”  If you enjoyed the first movie, you’ll get a kick out of seeing the characters move on to another adventure.  If you felt the first movie was mediocre, I’ll warn you that this sequel is more cheesy than ever.

If you’re completely unfamiliar with the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan or the first movie, it helps to know that they’re based on Greek myths, bringing classical characters to life with a modern twist.  Unfortunately, the characters in the movie are a bit one-dimensional and the acting certainly won’t win anyone any Oscar nominations.

Kids between 6 and 15 will probably enjoy it, but most adults will experience a mixture of mild humor and rolling of the eyes. The dialogue is pretty lame, such as when the Greek god Hermes says “Rome wasn’t built in a day….trust me, I was there.”  On the other hand, he later tosses a golden nugget when talking about the “Hercules Show” and says “It was the best TV show ever.  So, of course it was canceled.”    Who hasn’t experienced that?  I laughed out loud during one of his sycophant moments when he said “I am killing these shorts.”

The entire movie felt like I was on a Disneyland ride.  Now, I enjoy the “Pirates of a Caribbean” ride at Disneyland, but you have to admit it’s pretty cheesy and tired.  There is some mention of “half-bloods” and this movie franchise seems to try a little too hard to replace our beloved “Harry Potter” flicks.

Die-hard Percy Jackson fans say the movies aren't completely true to the books, yet satisfying enough to make for a fun ride.

Grade: B-
Parental guidance:  The language is clean, and appropriate for family viewing, but small children may be frightened by some of the scary scenes.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Percy Jackson and the Olympians creates a teen following

The newest teen movie Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is in theaters nationwide and before I review it, I felt like I had to at least watch the first one.  Better late than never, right?

Directed by Chris Columbus, who loves to make movies where teens are the heroes who save the day, The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) is the popular book series' first venture onto the big screen.  Like Percy says: "It's like high school without the musical."

 In a nutshell, a teenage boy suddenly discovers that he's the son of the mighty Poseidon and he sets off on a journey to save his mother (a mere mortal) and prevent a terrible battle between the other Greek gods on Mount Olympus. Percy is taken to Camp Half-Blood (sounds like Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince , right?) where he learns fighting skills and shows that he has what it takes.

It's a fun mixture of mythical characters and modern exploration into various dimensions.  It doesn't quite capture the Harry Potter magic that Chris Columbus is now famous for, but your pre-teens will enjoy it, especially if they've read any of the fantasy books by Rick Riordan.  Fans will tell you that the movie franchise is loosely based on the books, but it's close enough to leave them satisfied with the effort.

Logan Lerman plays the gutsy Percy who can stay under water for over 7 minutes in a swimming pool at the beginning of the movie because that's the place where he "can think."   Brandon Jackson (Grover) stars as Percy's best friend/comic-relief/secret guardian/half goat/junior protector who tries to earn his horns for watching over Poseidon's son.  The lovely Alexandra Daddario plays the aloof love interest (Annabeth) and Jake Abel provides the twist in the plot.  (Spoiler alert)

I loved seeing the beautiful Uma Thurman as the snake-covered Medusa and the gorgeous Rosario Dawson as Persephone, the bride of Hades.  Two beauties who are terrific actresses who can also sing very well.  I have a hard time with Pierce Brosnan, however.  I used to think he was so handsome, sophisticated, and charming when he played 007 in several James Bond flicks, but after his singing fiasco in Mamma Mia! The Movie , I just can't look at him the same.  He plays a wise centaur and, luckily, there is no singing.  The special effects in the film are a bit rough, but still pretty fun.

Because I currently live in Las Vegas, I got a kick out of the three teen heroes' visit to Sin City where they were sucked into the glitz and glamor of the Lotus casino.  The sign on the casino says "You Will Never Want To Leave" and the teens realize, after 5 days of partying, that their senses have indeed been dulled and that they lost track of time.  So true of Vegas.  By the way, there really was a Lotus Casino in Las Vegas, but it closed in 1978.  Casinos in Vegas don't have windows, so you really do lose track of time.   The Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas 2013 (Unofficial Guides)

On a spiritual note, it's the father's voice that finally reminds them to get back to their mission.  Can you recognize your Heavenly Father's voice?  Do you know what your mission is?
As the teen trio enters the Underworld, they are told it is a pace where "wishes never come true, a scrapheap of human misery, and a place of lost hopes and dreams."  While the Percy Jackson films may not be as complex and artistic as those deserving Oscar wins, they keep the young-at-heart dreaming of adventurous fantasies and noble accomplishments.  Dreaming is good.

Grade = B

Parental warning: No bad language.  Scenes entering Hades are a bit scary for young children, including bodies grabbing at the teen heroes. Hades appears as a frightening and fiery monster twice.