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Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/17/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/6/2013
In the old days, the rules were simple: If a movie was a huge hit, it got a sequel; If it was a flop, it was never heard from again. (The exception here is E.T., which was a blockbuster, but (as of today) never get a sequel.) The age of home video changed all of that. A movie could come and go in the theater, but if it performed well enough on home video, a second film (or even an entire series) could appear. (Keep in mind that we are simply discussing the financial results of a movie and not the overall quality of the film itself.)Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, based on the series of novels by Rick Riordan, had a reported budget of $95 million, but only made $88 million in theaters. Not a huge disappointment, but those don't look like sequel-worthy numbers. But, based on the popularity of the character and the reception on home video, Fox decided to go ahead with a second film, and thus we have Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters picks up not long after the events of the first film. As you'll remember, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) was a young man who never felt quite right in in the world, and he learned that this was because he was the son of Poseidon. Percy went to Camp Half-Blood learn about his powers and train with other children of gods. As the new story begins, Percy is still at the camp, enjoying time with his friends, Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), and he constantly finds himself competing with Clarisse (Leven Rambin). Percy is shocked to learn that he has a half-brother, Tyson (Douglas Smith), who is a Cyclops. An attack on the camp leaves the perimeter barricade damaged and it's learned that the only thing which can repair it is the Golden Fleece. Clarisse immediately volunteers to quest for it, but, not to be outdone, Percy leads his friends on a search as well. They will soon learn that an old foe is behind the attack and a journey across a dangerous ocean is the only way to get the Fleece.
As we've discussed in the past, sequels are a tricky lot. You want to make a film which is familiar to the audience, but not a carbon copy. Most sequels go for the "If we can't be better, we'll be bigger approach." Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is an oddity which doesn't conform to those rules. In many ways, the story is very similar to the first film, as the Percy and his friends begin at Camp Half-Blood, but then go on a quest which takes them to exotic locations. This move actually feels smaller in scope than its predecessor, despite the fact that the regions visited want to have more of an epic feel. Thus we get a movie which feels like a continuation of the first movie, but in a way which seems to have self-fulfilling prophecy that sequels can't be better than the originals.
The movie also feels very jumbled. The action simply starts with Percy and Clarisse competing in a tournament. As Clarisse is a new character, we feel as if we've missed something. Then, Tyson is suddenly thrown into the mix. Then, the quest begins. I have no problem with a movie that doesn't want to beat around the bush, but the pacing here doesn't want to take the story into account. Once the journey begins, the film becomes a series of set-pieces where Percy and the gang encounter various obstacles, most of which are linked to famous stories from Greek mythology. The first film took a similar approach, but things feel much more episodic here, and I kept having to remind myself what the quest was all about. Clearly Director Thor Freudenthal doesn't have the skilled hand of Christopher Columbus, who helmed the first movie.
The biggest issue with Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is simply that the movie has no heart. Yes, the first movie was yet another origin film, where a character learns their true potential, but accompanying Percy on his journey from confused kid to demi-god was fun and exciting. We actually cared about the characters. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters misses the boat on this (pun intended) and the entire film has a very sterile feel. We're supposed to feel something for Tyson, but the goofy CG face nixes that idea. The movie does contains some good action sequences and some of the special effects are impressive, but the movie simply isn't engrossing. The first film showed that Greek mythology was still fun and could be woven into the modern world in a clever way. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is more of a simple-minded action-adventure and we are left to wonder what the Hades went wrong.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters went too far with sassy Stygian witches on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no intrusive grain and no defects from the source material. Some of the CG heavy scenes are a bit dark, but the colors look good. The level of detail is very good and the image is never soft. The depth is nice as well, even in this 2D version. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround sound effects are strong and detailed, bringing presence to the action sequences. These same scenes produce palpable subwoofer action which is never over-bearing. The stereo effects are good and show detailed separation.
The Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. "Tyson Motion Comic" (6 minutes) is an animated short done in comic book style which gives us the backstory of the new cyclops introduced in the movie. “Deconstructing a Demigod” (4 minutes) is a brief featurette which gives an overview of the main characters and their abilities, focusing on fighting styles. We get comments from the cast and Director Freudenthal. In “Back to Camp Half-Blood” (3 minutes), the cast talk about coming together to do a sequel and they describe the mood on the set. “It’s All in the Eye” (5 minutes) focus on the Tyson character, and how the look and personality of the individual was developed. This contains some test footage of Tyson’s clothes and shows how the visual effects were used to create the character. The extras are rounded out by two THEATRICAL TRAILERS for the film.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long