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Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (Blu-ray)

20th Century Fox / 2013 / 107 mins / PG

THE FILM:

I went into 2010's PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF with only the slightest knowledge of the existence of Rick Riordan's young adult fantasy novel series. I left the theater thinking it was a fun and novel approach at creating a franchise utilizing Greek mythology that would appeal to the all-important teen audience. It didn't wow me in the way the HARRY POTTER franchise did, but it certainly didn't turn me off in the way 2010's CLASH OF THE TITANS did. I was up for another round with Poseidon's son Percy (Logan Lerman).

Three years later we have the film adaptation of Book Two of the pentalogy: PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS. We find Percy and his friends, satyr Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) and demigod daughter of Athena, Annabeth (Alexandrea Daddario), living happily at Camp Half-Blood. Camp Half-Blood is the only place on Earth demigods can live in peace thanks in part to Thalia (Paloma Kwiatkowski), the fallen daughter of Zeus who was turned in to a giant pine tree that now emits a powerful force field that protects the demi-god home. Unfortunately, Thalia has been poisoned and is dying. The only thing that can save her is the legendary Golden Fleece, which has the power to bring almost anything back to life. Even though hot-shot Clarisse (Leven Rambin), the daughter of the god of war, is officially bestowed the task of retrieving the Fleece, Percy and company feel they have a personal stake in the quest (thanks to a prophecy) and head off to get it before the evil demi-god Luke (Jake Abel) can seize it to bring the super-evil Titan Kronos, father of Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, back from the dead to destroy everything. The race is on like Donkey Kong!

So, SEA OF MONSTERS has many things going for it: an easy to follow (despite my summation) quest plot, a cast of interesting characters both old and new, loads and loads of high quality special effects and a world steeped in the near bottomless idea well of Greek mythology; how can it miss? That's the weird part: it doesn't miss. It hits all these very important marks dead on. However, it also feels very predictable and old hat. This is not a knock on the cast (both characters and actors are interesting, clever and really fun to spend a couple of hours with,) the story (classic hero-quest) or the direction of the movie (director Thor Freudenthal keeps things moving at a brisk pace.) It is just such well-trodden territory that we know what is going to happen because it HAS to happen in a certain way. Have we reached a saturation point on mythic fantasy adventures? The target tween audience won't mind, but adult fans of fantasy will probably see most of the plot twists coming from a mile away. Fortunately a great cast (which includes Anthony Head and Nathan Fillion popping up) goes a long way to distract adult viewers from overly familiar scenes (there is a cab-ride that felt directly lifted from HARRY POTTER) and the film leaves you wanting more. What more could a franchise ask for?

THE DISC:

There is nothing wrong with the anamorphic 2.35 transfer 20th Century Fox has delivered on this Blu-ray; it has a fine filmic look with a subtle layer of grain in evidence, colors are well saturated and detail is as sharp as the original film allows. The problem, if it can even be called that, is the original film is overly soft and muted. Perhaps cinematographer Shelly Johnson was trying to give PERCY JACKSON the timeless/vintage look he so successfully captured in 2010's THE WOLFMAN and the first CAPTAIN AMERICA movie, but here it just looks… off.

Nothing is off, however, in the dazzling DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundmix; it is Active in A Big Way, completely immersive, loaded with zipping directional effects and, did I say Active? This five star sound mix probably doesn't help the muted look of the film, but both picture and soundtrack are excellent transfers of their respective parts.

THE EXTRAS:

Fox has been unusually stingy with supplements on their big titles lately and while PERCY JACKSON wasn't a monster of a hit, it is still a special effects filled tentpole release. What we get here is positively anemic.

"Tyson Motion Comic" is the best of the lot being a partially animated adventure with Percy's half-brother.

Three behind the scenes featurettes, "Deconstructing a Demigod," "Back to Camp Half-Blood" and "It's All in the Eye" are all very short (the longest barely cracks 5 minutes) and mostly fluffy EPK style looks at the shoot.

Two "Theatrical Trailers" round out the supplements. Seriously. That's it.

OUR SAY:

PERCY JACKSON and friends are back in a decent sequel that may seem overly familiar to older viewers but the target tween audience will love. Recommended!

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