Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

PJSoM poster20th Century Fox (2013) 106 min. PG

Director: Thor Freudenthal

Screenplay: Marc Guggenheim; based on novel Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Cinematography: Shelly Johnson; Editing: Mark Goldblatt

Production Design: Claude Paré; Set Decoration: Selina van den Brink & Shane Vieau

Costumes: Monique Prudhomme; Score: Andrew Lockington

Stars: Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson), Brandon T. Jackson (Grover Underwood), Alexandra Daddario (Annabeth Chase), Leven Rambin (Clarisse La Rue), Jake Abel (Luke Castellan), Douglas Smith (Tyson), Stanley Tucci (Dionysus), Nathan Fillion (Hermes), Robert Maillet (Polyphemus)

The second screen adaptation from the series for young adults written by Rick Riordan, these new Percy Jackson movies are like Harry Potter for the more mythological minded. They seem to be following a fixed pattern, appearing every few years, nearly in tandem with the latest Clash of the Titans release, after which they appear to be modeled. With the myth updated to the modern day, they’re what Son of Kong was to King Kong, lightweight junior varsity variations on a theme. They cutesify the concept by setting it in kiddie college, a paramilitary training camp for all the underage, illegitimate demigods sired by Olympians. Continue reading

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Jack the Giant Slayer

JtGS posterWarner Bros./New Line (2013) 114 min. PG-13

Director: Bryan Singer

Screenplay: Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie & Dan Studney

Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel; Editing: Bob Ducsay & John Ottman

Production Design: Gavin Bocquet; Set Decoration: Richard Roberts

Costumes: Joanna Johnston

Score: John Ottman

Stars: Nicholas Hoult (Jack), Eleanor Tomlinson (Isabelle), Ewan McGregor (Elmont), Stanley Tucci (Roderick), Ian McShane (King Brahmwell), Bill Nighy (General Fallon), John Kassir (Fallon’s Small Head)

I was reticent to see director Bryan Singer’s version of the fairy tale after everything I’d read about rewrites, production delays, pushed back release dates and the film’s disappointing box office, a sure sign that something must be wrong with it. The unnecessary change in title itself seemed to bode ill, a too flippant attempt to make the story seem fresher and more hip. Linked by name to the likes of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, this title gives every indication of being just the latest product of a screen overrun with post-modern spins on classic fairy tale and horror concepts. The professional designation cheapens the concept in the worse way. Jack the Giant Slayer sounds like a cheesy direct to cable release for the SyFy channel. Which just goes to prove one shouldn’t judge a movie by its title. Continue reading

Wrath of the Titans

Warner Bros. (2012) 99 min. PG-13

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Screenplay: Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson; Story: Greg Berlanti, David Leslie Johnson and Dan Mazeau; based on Clash of the Titans (1981) by Beverley Cross 

Cinematography: Ben Davis; Editing: Martin Walsh

Production Design: Charles Wood; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

Costumes: Jany Temime; Score: Javier Navarrete

Stars: Sam Worthington (Perseus), Liam Neeson (Zeus), Ralph Fiennes (Hades), Rosamund Pike (Andromeda), Toby Kebell (Agenor), Édgar Ramírez (Ares), Bill Nighy (Hephaestus), Danny Huston (Poseidon)

This redundantly titled sequel to 2010’s Clash of the Titans opens with the narration of Zeus as he recaps events forgetful viewers need to be apprised of from the first film as if priming them for the latest installment of a chapter serial (Part 3 is currently in the works). For some reason all this is played out against images of cave paintings instead of the more age appropriate black silhouette figures that decorated Grecian urns and earthenware, and the confusing artistic choice associates the tale with an even earlier, Paleolithic time period than needs be.

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