Percy Jackson and the Lowering of Cinematic Standards

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Hey check out the new trailer for Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1704670/percy-jackson-sea-monsters-trailer.jhtml
(Sorry I couldn’t embed, wasn’t working)

I expected to see an attack but instead I get bemused indifference. I understand that the constant barrage of substandard material has deadened the internet film community’s ability to respond accurately and vigilantly to both good and bad film news. As a result discerning the steps taken either forward or backward in cinema have become an altogether muddled affair. Either people don’t see the problem, are unwilling to admit their is a problem, or they just don’t care anymore. Probably a combination of all three. Still, the deteriorating standards of the modern film community notwithstanding, its very easy to see that with Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monster we are witnessing a clear (if not slickly presented) step backwards in cinephilia. Just don’t look to the film blogs to tell you that.

Based on the popular YA books by Rick Riordan, Chris Columbus’s PERCY JACKSON & THE LIGHTNING THIEF was evidently profitable enough to compel Fox to keep the series running. I thought the first film worked as a glossy Greek Mythology primer for kids (it was certainly more enjoyable than Louis Leterrier’s CLASH OF THE TITANS), so I’ve no issue with more of the same. Not that it matters. I’m not the target audience for this stuff, and, unless you’re a precocious eight- to twelve-year-old reading this website, neither are you.

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And honestly, it does look kind of fun. Like the first film, it appears that the sequel will play around with the adult actors cast in very silly roles, like Stanley Tucci as Dionysus, Nathan Fillion as Hermes, and Sean Bean as Zeus. It looks like they are having an absolute blast, and it’s possible audiences could, too. It’s also worth noting that the screenplay was co-written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who wrote “Ed Wood,” “The People Vs. Larry Flynt,” and “Man in the Moon,” and Marc Guggenheim, a beloved comic book author.

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With Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, we are thankfully getting a more manageable title and from the looks of this trailer, a more ambitious attempt at epic adventure.

The exchange of director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter 1 & 2) for director Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) is somewhat dubious – if only because Columbus has more experience with filmmaking on this scale than Freudenthal does. Still, the trailers looks like what you’d expect, given the first film, with some nice (if moderately budgeted) effects shots.

Sea of Monsters also features a nice supporting cast of fan-favorite actors like Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle), Stanley Tucci (Captain America) and Anthony Head (Buffy) – along with Missi Pyle (The Artist), Leven Rambin (Wizards of Waverly Place) and Yvette Nicole Brown (Community).

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Even though the first Percy Jackson was both a bit muddled and leaned a little too hard on the silly, we liked the gags and the world-building. Plus it got points for turning Pierce Brosnan into a centaur that will forever haunt our dreams. And now, there’s a second Percy Jackson movie, and… it looks cute. Maybe even decent.

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When I interviewed Abel about The Host last week it was interesting hearing him admit that the Percy Jackson series is pretty much exclusively for kids at this point, which might be tough for a twenty-something actor making his way in the world but also provides a pretty steady paycheck. And as evidenced by all the work these actors have gotten since Lightning Thief, it’s definitely not hurting that they’re most recognizable to elementary schoolers. You’d think the original Percy Jackson film might not merit a sequel, making just $88 million in the United States, but with a $226 million worldwide total it’s enough to move forward even without Harry Potter orHunger Games-sized grosses.

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Like many YA adaptations outside the Harry Potter and Twilight series, The Lightning Thief didn’t quite wow audiences. Unlike many stillborn series, however, this one is actually getting a sequel. 

This chapter features Alexandra Daddario and Brandon T. Jackson returning to support Lerman’s hero, and we get to see Stanley Tucci as Dionysus. Oh, and Nathan Fillion plays Hermes, which might be enough to get people watching.

The trailer doesn’t even think that audiences remember the first film, as it spends thirty seconds refreshing us on the series’ storyline. After that, it does get down to business, with the sort of big CG visions of mythological creatures that populated the first film.

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Thats all quite of lot of pandering to take in so if you don’t mind I’ll sum up the general points most of the internet film community made about this upcoming film.

1. It understandable and forgivable that a new sequel is being made to an awful film just because that first film netted a huge profit.

2. Well it looks like the adult actors are having fun in their roles which is all that matters anyway.

3. Nathan Fillion is a god. Worship him and give him money. Browncoats forever! Forever!!!!

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4. Well its for kids anyway so if it sucks thats okay. Having high standards for cinema only should apply to adults. At the very least our kids are getting an introduction to Greek mythology.

5. The first film sucked less than “Clash Of The Titans” and Eragon so it gets a pass.

Geez. I hope you enjoyed that set visit and free swag guys. I hope it profited you to gain all that stuff at the expense of you collective cinematic soul.  Must I reiterate that if we don’t start demanding more of the studios and filmmakers of this present age then things will continue to get worse. You may think I’m making a big deal out of this (“its only Percy Jackson!”) but its the little things, not the big, that over time build up until the problem is almost to big to solve.  Think of the all style and no substance money driven film culture we’ll be leaving behind for the next generation. They wont have stories with depth and artistry but only garish forgettable popcorn flicks to look forward to. But do we even consider the next generation at all anymore. We’ve already resigned to letting our kids (and ourselves) be receptacles for this kind of cgi laden garbage so who knows what we’ll allow in the future.

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Well excuse me if that’s not the way I want to respond to our film culture. Let me provide you with the response to Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters trailer debut that the other film blogs should have been more responsible enough to give you:

Hey did you hear! That mediocre piece of crap film that insulted audiences a few years back is getting a sequel. Yes Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters is upon us. What better chance will you have at the cinema this year to watch otherwise serviceable actors phoning in performances though belabored prosthetics and phony c.g.i.? At least you wont have to worry about any scenery chewing since 99.9 percent of the sets aren’t even there. You know who is there? Nathan Fillion. Bow down and sacrifice your daughters at the altar of Nathan Fillion. But it gets better. You remember the wunderkind turned hack director Chris Columbus? Well he’s history. We scrapped the bottom of the barrel, then lifted the barrel up and looked under it and found another guy to direct the film. Remember that instant classic Hotel for Dogs? The film that made Beverly Hills Chihuahua look like Citizen Kane. Well we got the guy who directed that (Thor Frudendthal……real name) to helm this turkey. Are you still there? Have you fainted from the amount of pure awesomeness we’ve assembled to make this project? Well you will when we tell you who we got to write the film. You know Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who wrote “Ed Wood,” “The People Vs. Larry Flynt,” and “Man in the Moon”? Well we payed them enough money to squander their talents and sell out by writing this new film. On top of that we hired a comic book writer to help with the scripting duties to trick nerds into seeing the film. Top that off with a couple of scenes and scenarios lifted from likewise sub-par films (Pirates of the Carribean franchise, Harry Potter franchise, Clash Of The Titans, ect) and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. But as long as that disaster nets the studio about 120-200 million you can be sure another sequel is on the way. But hey…..the film has Nathan Fillion. See you at the cinema!

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About celluloidhumanoid

Celluloid Prophet

Posted on April 1, 2013, in Film and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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