Directed by Thor Freudenthal
Written by Marc Guggenheim (screenplay), Rick Riordan (novel)
In cinemas now!
BEWARE OF SPOILERS!
The ‘Percy Jackson’ franchise is an interesting phenomena in that it isn’t really a phenomena in the first place. The first film ‘The Lightning Thief’ was released in February of 2010 and despite receiving only a mixed reaction from critics managed to scrape home over $200 million at the worldwide box office.
I missed to see the film at the cinema but caught up with it on blu-ray later on as I’m intrigued by adaptations of Greek mythology.
Three years later and sequel ‘Sea of Monsters’ is coming to a close of its time in theatres having also managed to surpass it’s $90 million budget. The sequel has only managed to amass $120 million at the worldwide box office – on a side note it follows many recent films which has stalled at the US box office and made more money in foreign territories – but that’s still a fairly impressive haul for a film which nobody really knows about.
In talking to colleagues and friends nobody is really aware that this film is a sequel and some in general were completely unaware of the film itself which doesn’t say a lot for the marketing but given cliffhanger feel of the ending I can only hope that Fox green-light the next book to be adapted.
The premise of ‘Sea of Monsters’ is that the half-blood camp where all the teens live has been infiltrated by the nefarious Luke who has poisoned the tree which bores the protective shield around the camp.
Percy and co. must go on a quest to retrieve the golden fleece in order to bring the tree back to life and protect the camp once more.
What Riordan does so well in his books is to modernise aspects of Greek mythology but also make them incredibly relevant to the films audience. In this instalment Percy learns that he has a half brother, a further son of Poseidon, called Tyson.
The myth of the cyclops is a standout amongst Greek mythology and one that most will have come across at some point, most likely in school. Here the cyclops is not only a beast of mythology but also a teenager who lives on the outside because he looks a little different to the rest. Dressing up the mythology in the awkwardness of teenage behaviour is a perfect way to introduce the audience to both history and also fantasy.
The film is well directed by Freudenthal who is a relative newcomer to full-blown cinema and definitely a newcomer to the genre of the summer blockbuster. Kinda helps that his first name is Thor… adds a bit of credibility to the project.
He clearly handles the source material with confidence and allows the actors in inhabit their characters and breathe within them rather than box them within the confines of their descriptions in the books.
Guggenheim – one of the masterminds behind hot TV series ‘Arrow’ I might add – writers a good script here. The film doesn’t feel short despite it’s 107 minute length and actually to have gone on longer may have begun to make the film feel padded out.
There’s not masses of time for small character moments here but what few quiet moments we get are meaningful and do serve to move the characters forward in their individual stories.
As a whole package the film does suffer from the summer blockbuster format of set-piece-to-set-piece but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in a CGI laden film such as this.
Special credit has to go to the team behind the incredibly imaginative stained glass animation sequel which put me in mind of the prologue sequence from ‘Hellboy 2’ with the golden army brought to life a CGI models.
The acting is perfectly on par with the first film. Lerman, Daddario and Jackson have great chemistry as the three leads and Guggenheim has clearly allowed the script to incorporate the fact the actors have all grown up hugely from where they were in ‘The Lightning Thief’.
Leven Rambin picks up perfectly where she left off in ‘The Hunger Games’ to play a similar character. I had problems seeing her as anybody other than Sloane Sloane from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ but after the film was over it was clear she was a good addition to the cast.
Despite carrying a PG rating some of the imagery in ‘Sea of Monsters’ is perhaps a little nightmarish for kids. There were a couple of parents with young children who left around the time that Percy entered the loft to ask about his involvement in the prophecy as perhaps the children were too small to handle the monsters. This aside overall the film is a great summer adventure movie which tops the more generic fare which studios churn out to keep kids entertained.
If you enjoyed the first film then shame on you if you haven’t seen this one yet. If you haven’t seen the first one go see this one now before it disappears from cinemas and then go back to watch the first one right afterwards!
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