It wouldn’t be a summer at the box office without the mandatory fantasy franchise film now would it? The Harry Potter and Twilight franchises may be dead and buried (thank god, for the latter at least), and whilst Mortal Instruments, out this week, may prove to be heir to the throne, I want to look back on one of this summer’s more childish fantasy offerings: the second instalment of the Percy Jackson series.
Now if you’ve seen the first movie, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, then you’d have already cringed at such moments as Pierce Brosnan as half-man, half-ropey-CGI-horse-thingy, and then sat dumfounded as 15 year olds farcically saunter around a Las Vegas Casino (shameless promotion of gambling in a children’s movie? Just a bit). If you haven’t seen the first one, then fear not there’s plenty more cheese in this one too.
If you’ve got a kid brother or sister looking at the screen with you, then tell them to avert their eyes now, we wouldn’t want to ruin such a riveting cinematic treat for them now would we? The basic premise of the story is that Percy (Logan Lehman, excellent in Perks of Being a Wallflower, less so in The Three Musketeers) and his posse of half-human, half-Greek god buddies must save their knock off version of Hogwarts from a bunch of baddies because the magic tree that was protecting them gets one of its branches broken. Still following? Good, because here’s where it gets REALLY interesting…for reasons not entirely justified by the plot, the gang (most of whom are impassive Hollywood kids who can’t seem to alter their facial expressions, due to Botox or bad acting – I can’t really decide) head off on a quest for the golden fleece to save the magic tree. It’s an enthralling journey that takes them across the oceans, through the belly of a giant sea monster and via. Washington D.C for a pointless piece of product placement in a scene involving a DHL delivery outlet, Nathan Fillion and a talking pogo stick. After all that malarkey, they end up in a frankly senseless climax against a shovel-faced villain played by Jake Abel, who could give Robert Pattinson – the original master of bland, nonchalant expressions a run for his money. Did I mention the show-down is randomly set in an amusement park? They don’t even take the rollercoaster for a decent spin!
There are a few saving graces to this film, veteran actor Stanley Tucci (Hunger Games, Road to Perdition) puts in a cracking, albeit brief, performance as some kind of teacher (the film doesn’t really elaborate) to the demi-god kids. He spends most of his screen time either drunk or making jokes about how he wishes he was drunk – let’s just assume he knows how daft this movie is and the only way he can get through it is by being off his face. Another great performance for some much needed comic relief comes from new kid on the block Douglas Smith, who plays Percy’s newly acquainted Cyclops half-brother. There are some scenes between the two characters that plays on the whole brotherly love thing and starts to resemble something close to character development, which is much needed after 90 minutes of indifferent acting and dodgy CGI.
So, in a nutshell…
- Best Bits: Stanley Tucci as a drunkard mentor of aforementioned ‘knockoff Hogwarts’ as I call it, provides some much needed character to the film – shame he’s only on screen in less time than it takes to say mechanical-minotaur (it makes a pointless appearance at the beginning to justify making the film 3D).
- Bad Bits: Believe me, there are far too many to list so here’s my main stickler: where o where are Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean from the first film? At least seeing the former James Bond make a tit of himself playing a centaur, and then hearing Zeus with a Sheffield accent ala Bean was something to laugh at. This film doesn’t even bother to explain their absences; maybe the writer’s just don’t care anymore and assume we won’t either?
If I were a Meta-score critic (which I’m not) this movie would be getting: 30/100. All in all, unless you’re stuck babysitting and want to kill two hours, wait for the DVD, and even then wait until it’s in the bargain section of Tesco!