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PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS

SYNOPSIS:
In order to restore their dying safe haven, the son of Poseidon (Logan Lerman) and his friends embark on a quest to the Sea of Monsters to find the mythical Golden Fleece while trying to stop an ancient evil from rising.

Review by Louise Keller:
The vivid fantasy visuals provide wonderful imagery in this sequel about demi-gods and their quests, although to its detriment, the film is plot heavy and lacking in its emotional arc. It is pretty silly, too. Based on a story from Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson's novels, highlights include a shimmering rainbow-coloured unicorn of the sea that swishes through the waves like a dolphin, a bucking, charging, fire-breathing mechanical bull, a tin ship manned by zombies through hazardous seas and a fiery gigantic resurrection of the evil Titan ruler, Kronos. Everything else - character, plot and interaction - rides on the back of the effects - a little like Percy Jackson, the demi-god son of Poseidon, who rides the surf without a surfboard.

While the 2010 film Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief was a coming of age story as Percy came to terms with his heritage, Sea of Monsters raises questions as to Percy's capabilities when he shoulders the expectations and pressures of a prophecy. With the threat that Olympus and the whole world could be in jeopardy, the narrative focuses on Percy's quest to obtain the legendary Golden Fleece. Luke (Jake Abel), the former lightning thief is a dour adversary - his only expression is a scowl as his objective is to get the Fleece first. (I did like his swish, luxury cruiser.)

The addition of Percy's Cyclops half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith), whose single eye is a focus of fascination, is interesting enough but the brotherly love never registers on a credible scale. Percy's long-time friends Annabeth (striking Alexandra Daddario) and satyr Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) with his goat-like horns are along for the ride; the scene when Grover wears a dress and a single-eye mask to depict a Cyclops as a survival tactic is surreal. The perpetual conflict by Clarisse (Leven Rambin), daughter of the God of War against Percy is tiresome and repetitive.

The main event is the fantasy adventure and it is a helluva ride that will no doubt stimulate the imagination of the teenage fans. Thor Freudenthal's direction does not have the gusto of his predecessor, Chris Columbus, in the original film and much of the dialogue gets swept away and swallowed up. Thematically it is watery, after all. The action is so busy that even at 106 minutes running time, the film feels overlong. Baby-faced Logan Lerman is a great talent though, and is sure to shoulder more expectations in the next film in the franchise.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The VMax 2 Cinema in Sydney's George Street was clearly experimenting with cryogenics for film critics at our preview, with the temperature somewhere between cold and freezing, as Percy Jackson's juvenile gang had a juvenile time on screen. And my, how far the gods have fallen in the three years since Percy stole the lightning ... (when Chris Columbus directed, this time he produced; Craif Titley wrote, this time Marc Guggenheim...)

The thin, silly story stretched into a showcase for visual and special effects left me even colder than the cinema. I can't really criticise the dialogue as I didn't hear most of it, thanks to woeful sound (design or mix or both).

In trying to be funny and cool, the film seems to have lost faith in its own reality, often winking at the audience with things like jokes about social networking which seem forced. To make it all so much worse, the monsters seem incapable of hunting their pray and all threats are eliminate by magic, superpowers or gods' interventions.

There are no characters spared from looking foolish, the attempted humour often undercuts the drama and I only wish I could have been frozen and deaf for its 106 minute running time.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS (PG)
(US, 2013)

CAST: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson, Douglas Smith, Jake Abel, Anthony Head, Stanley Tucci, Connor Dunn, Paloma Kwiatkowski, Missy Pyle, Leven Rambin

PRODUCER: Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Karen Rosenfelt

DIRECTOR: Thor Freudenthal

SCRIPT: Marc Guggenheim (novel by Rick Riordan)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Shelly Johnson

EDITOR: Mark Goldblatt

MUSIC: Andrew Lockington

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Claude Paré

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 19, 2013







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