Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Old wine in new bottle

The whirling, sea-belching monster Charybdis, a Manticore with a lion's body and scorpion's tail and man-eating Cyclops. These are just a few of the mythical elements which threatening our teenage heroes in Thor Freudenthal's adventure fantasy 'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.'

The second film in the Percy Jackson franchise, based on the best-selling novels by Rick Riordan and inspired by Greek mythology, sees Jackson, the half-human son of Poseidon, and his fellow demigod friends set off on a dangerous quest to find the Golden Fleece to save all their kind and the entire planet. Their journey is a result of the invisible wall that protects their camp being breached when a rogue Cyclops poisons the tree.

Another smart move

The story starts off with a historical reference to the birth and deeds of Cronus, father of the three gods: Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. Though the tale raises interest at the beginning it all becomes predictable within the next half hour because the characters go through the expected routine.

One of the silver linings in 'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' is the entrance of Tyson, Jackson's half brother, who also happen to be half Cyclops. He is eye catching in his actions and adds a touch of variety to the tale. Incorporating Clarisse, a hard-nosed go-getter into the tale too is another smart move by the team. This allows Jackson the opportunity to form a friendship with the person who challenges him for competition later in the story, hitting the message home that team spirit is essential to overcome hurdles.

2010's 'Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief' encompassed some forgettable episodes. The sequel too has its share of lame scenes. One is when Jackson gives the introductory monologue of how matters stand when the second films takes off saying "The gods of Olympus are real and sometimes they have children and they're called Half-Bloods and I'm one of them," before kneeling beside a lake and trying to beckon Poseidon to him.

Similar to its predecessor, many of the episodes from the sequel recalls incidents for the 'Harry Potter' franchise. We have Annabeth and Grover who fit into the images of Potter's companions Hermione and Ron. Jackson's nemesis Draco Malfoy is reincarnated as the nasty demi god Luke who has issues with his father Hermes and thus plans revenge on the Olympians. This is old wine in new bottle but the difference is instead of tasting better the wine had gone sour.

A more convincing performance

The director should have worked on making a ferocious image of Cronus too. The father of the three prominent gods who is a threat to all living beings and gods should have been the image of horror. Instead we have a giant with fiery parts that keep falling off!

It is puzzling as to why the movie should be titled 'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' in the first place. The action mostly rotates around finding the Golden Fleece and defeating the evil Cronus. Therefore 'Percy Jackson: The Golden Fleece' or a title referring to Jackson and Cronus would have been more appropriate.

Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario and Brandon T Jackson give tolerable performances. However one cannot help feeling that the director could have made more use out of them. Though their characters are similar to the three heroes from the Potter series, their performances are no way on par with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint's portrayal in the 'Harry Potter' series. It is especially disappointing that Lerman's Jackson, a demi god and hero of the series, does not manage to stand out in the setting. Jake Abel who gives life to Luke too needs to pull his act together because Potter fans feel that Tom

Felton gave a more convincing performance as Malfoy. Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion and Anthony Head actually stand out more than these youngsters in their minor roles.

If the cast is to return in the rumoured third installment of the franchise, 'Percy Jackson: The Titan's Curse', let's hope that they have much more to offer than what we have seen so far in the first two movies.

Ruwini Jayawardana