Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is the follow-up to 2010′s Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – both big screen adaptations of Rick Riordan’s five part Percy Jackson book series. After preventing a world-threatening civil war between Zeus and Poseidon, the celebrity status of Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) has started to fade. New demigods have been upstaging the titular hero, most notably the daughter of Ares, Clarisse La Rue (Leven Rambin), causing Percy to question whether his earlier victory was nothing more than beginner’s luck.
That is until the magical barrier protecting Camp Half-Blood is breached and Percy is once again called upon to defend both human as well as demigod kind. Joined by his friends Grover Underwood (Brandon T. Jackson) and Annabeth Chase (Alexandra Daddario), along with half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith), Percy sets out for the Sea of Monsters (aka the Bermuda Triangle) in search of The Golden Fleece – a magical piece of fabric capable of healing the barrier (as well as anyone or anything else on the verge of death). However, along the way, Percy and his fellow travelers come face to face with an old enemy who has a nefarious interest in the Fleece – as a means of enacting revenge on the ancient Olympians.
For the second installment, Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) has taken over franchise directorial duties from Chris Columbus – and the result is a film that will easily satisfy pre-teen fans of the book series (or any of the twenty-something actors involved). However, Sea of Monsters isn’t nearly as well realized as the previous installment – meaning that older moviegoers who enjoyed The Lightning Thief may find that Freudenthal’s entry stumbles in its efforts to offer anything more than shallow, and kid-friendly, adventuring.
The first installment leaned heavily on the grand scale of the larger Percy Jackson storyline, where the titular hero has direct contact with mystical creatures and heavy-hitting Gods Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades – making it a guilty pleasure for fans of Greek mythology and fantasy adventure (read our Lightning Thief review), in addition to the target children/teen demographics. This round, the story is much more narrow, primarily focused on stale teenage character drama to fill in the gaps between CGI creature encounters. Unfortunately, even when the onscreen action ramps up, many of the skirmishes are brief and underwhelming – not to mention surprisingly short of interesting mythological creatures.
Younger filmgoers will still be able to appreciate the middle-of-the-road action adventure and respond to the banter between Sea of Monsters heroes and villains (as they should). Yet, Freudenthal falls short of the bar set by Columbus, failing to elevate the material in any meaningful (or particularly interesting) way, and as a result, limits the number of viewers who will find worthwhile payoff in his film.
Instead, viewers will get an often silly and brainless quest story, bouncing from one over-the-top set piece to the next – where the heroes are mostly flying by the seat of their pants and can rarely claim any authority over their successes. In place of careful world building and smart implementation of Greek lore, Sea of Monsters is mostly concerned with keeping its characters in motion (not to mention preparing the way for a third film) – rarely taking time to set up or pay off any of the numerous ideas that are haphazardly thrown into the mix. Familiar (and oftentimes clumsy) story mechanics, along with a few underwhelming twists, move the plot forward – while heavy-handed (albeit magical) tools help Percy (and the film’s writers) escape any dead ends.
The cast is serviceable – though the main trio is each provided with significantly less of an arc this time. Percy is understandably offered the meatiest storyline but he spends the majority of the film in self-doubt and longing for his Olympian father (previously portrayed by Kevin McKidd), who is nowhere to be found this time. Lerman makes the most of what he’s given but the actor, who has turned out strong portrayals in the past (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), is poorly utilized and some of his more introspective scenes border on melodrama instead of engaging insight.
Annabeth (Daddario) and Grover (Jackson) are also trimmed down to shallow sidekick caricatures – after enjoying two of the more engaging arcs in the original film. In Sea of Monsters, Annabeth is relegated to butt-kicking love interest duty as well as saddled with a cringeworthy storyline about prejudice and grudge holding. Sadly, Grover fares even worse: he’s merely a cog in the machine with no actual development – made essential with a throwaway line explaining that only a satyr can locate the Fleece.
Newcomers Tyson (Smith) and Clarisse (Leven Rambin) help to freshen up the cast but neither character provides anything but one-note counterpoints to the returning heroes. Similarly, while fan-favorite Nathan Fillion makes a brief appearance as Hermes (replacing actor Dylan Neal) – the only Greek god willing to be involved this round. Sadly, his part is riddled with so many goofy nods to the audience that any attempt at adding something meaningful is lost in between all of the campy one liners.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is playing in 3D as well as 2D theaters but the film doesn’t do anything particularly unique with the format. While there are a few moments where the 3D shines, many of the film’s visual effects and monsters are pretty rough – meaning that even when the 3D looks good, it’s hard to be fully immersed in the onscreen action. For that reason, selective 3D filmgoers are safe skipping the added cost; though, diehard fans of the series, along with anyone who doesn’t mind premium ticket costs, might find a few memorable 3D moments to justify their upgrade.
Freudenthal’s Sea of Monsters is a step down for the Percy Jackson franchise in nearly every single way imaginable. The scale is smaller, the characters are less interesting, and the film makes poor use of its rich book and Greek mythology source materials. Young movie (and book series) fans will likely find enjoyment in watching their favorite heroes and actors back on the big screen for another Percy Jackson adventure but the movie provides next to nothing for anyone outside of that core demographic. As mentioned, the film spends a significant amount of time planting seeds for the next entry in the series, but it’s hard to imagine that many moviegoers will be as anxious for part three, The Titan’s Curse, after sitting through this Sea of Monsters.
Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.
Is actress Katherine Heigl headed back to TV?
According to sources, Heigl is bringing a possible drama program around to networks to gauge interest. The show would star and be produced by the “Grey’s Anatomy” actress and the pilot would be written by Alexi Hawley, who served as a writer and producer on the ABC show “Castle” and wrote and served as supervising producer for the ABC show “Body of Proof.”
The show's content is currently unknown, but USA Today writer Gary Levin wondered if the program might be a procedural, considering Hawley’s background.
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If a network snagged the show, it would most likely be a contender for the 2014-2015 TV season.
Heigl is still best known for her breakout role as Dr. Izzie Stevens on the long-running ABC drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” on which she starred from 2005 to 2010. Before then, she starred on the 1999 TV show “Roswell.”
During and after her time on “Grey’s,” the actress starred in the Judd Apatow comedy “Knocked Up” and the romantic comedies “27 Dresses” and “The Ugly Truth.” Most recently she appeared in the film “The Big Wedding,” which was released this past April, with Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton, among others.
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At 71 years old, Harrison Ford is staying relevant as an actor – by working on a combination of more artistically-satisfying films (see: 42) and commercially-friendly titles (see: Anchorman: The Legend Continues). The fan-favorite actor has even used his longtime public image as a curmudgeon to his advantage, during his two Hall H appearances at the International Comic-Con (see: the Q&A segment of the Ender’s Game panel in 2013).
Ford is all-but-confirmed to reprise one of his iconic roles in 2015 with Star Wars: Episode VII, where he is expected to return as the 70-something year old version of the (not scruffy) hotshot Han Solo. The actor has admitted that he’s still open to picking up his fedora and whip to reprise his other iconic role, should Indiana Jones 5 ever come to fruition – before that happens, though, it appears as though Ford will participate in a different movie (as an age-appropriate action hero): The Expendables 3.
It’s been almost exactly a year since we first heard that Ford was being targeted to appear in Expendables 3. Of course, it’s possible that Sylvester Stallone has been pushing to get the actor to join the Expendables franchise cast for a much longer period of time than that; either way, it appears that Sly has finally won Ford over (or worn him down, whatever works):
WILLIS OUT... HARRISON FORD IN !!!! GREAT NEWS !!!!! Been waiting years for this!!!!
Stallone quickly followed that Twitter announcement with another Tweet comment, saying that “GREEDY AND LAZY …… A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE.” To be fair, we can’t be 100% certain that Sly was referring to Willis – though, if we’re being honest, chances are good that he was, considering just how close together he posted the comments. Not to mention, Willis hasn’t exactly been impressive of late, be it with his off-screen behavior or his most recent movie performances (see: A Good Day to Die Hard, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Red 2).
Anyway, moving on…
Ford recently made the following comments about reprising as Dr. Henry Jones (Jr.) in Indiana Jones 5 (via The Telegraph):
“We’ve seen the character develop and grow over a period of time and it’s perfectly appropriate and okay for him to come back again with a great movie around him where he doesn’t necessarily have to kick as much ass. To me, what was interesting about the character was that he prevailed, that he had courage, that he had wit, that he had intelligence, that he was frightened and that he still managed to survive. That I can do.”
Despite the mixed general reception – and harsher reactions from hardcore fans – to Indiana Jones the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Ford’s solid performance as an older, yet also wiser, more experienced, and even appropriately world-weary Indy Jones, is usually acknowledged to be one of the film’s strengths. It’s not so much Ford’s ability to play the character that has been questioned – rather, it’s whether or not George Lucas can devise a more focused story – in terms of narrative, interesting characters and themes – than the one that was realized on the screen with Crystal Skull.
Having said that: now that George Lucas claims he is done with blockbuster filmmaking – in combination with Disney having acquired some of the Indiana Jones rights back when it purchased Lucasfilm – is it possible that Lucas would be more willing to allow someone else to chronicle the continuing adventures of Ford’s globe-trotting archaeologist (similar to how Lucas is simply consulting on the next era in the Star Wars universe)?
Crystal Skull concludes on a note that – while not as satisfying for many a fan of the Indy character (no pun) as the ride-off into the sunset from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – doesn’t necessarily demand another installment, but it does leave the door open for a fifth movie (one without Shia LaBeouf as Indy’s son, no less). Nonetheless, the situation is more complicated now, as Paramount still owns some of the rights to the Indiana Jones franchise – meaning, Lucasfilm cannot plow full speed ahead ahead with new movies (even if the studio wanted to).
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
Comedian Colbert announced that the group Daft Punk would not be performing on his show “The Colbert Report” on Tuesday night because they would be performing on the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 25, according to Deadline.
The “Colbert” performance, which would have been part of the host’s series of band appearances known as “Colbchella,” was apparently canceled because MTV said they had the rights to any appearances by Daft Punk in the time before the VMAs.
The late-night host may have given away what would have been an unexpected entrance by Daft Punk during the awards.
“Apparently, Daft Punk are going to make a surprise appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards,” Colbert said during the show. “Don’t tell anyone, because fun fact: No one told me until two o'clock yesterday.”
“Blurred Lines” artist Robin Thicke performed his hit single on the “Report” instead.
Representatives for Daft Punk told UPI they didn’t give MTV exclusive rights to their performances in the time leading up to the VMAs.
Colbert joked about what he considered the absurdity of a group not being allowed to perform for such a stretch of time before the awards ceremony.
“If Daft Punk were on my show, people wouldn’t tune in to see them on the VMAs almost a month from now – that’s not how music works,” Colbert said. “You love a band, you see them once, then never want to see them again. That’s why after the Beatles went on ‘Ed Sullivan,’ they dropped off the face of the earth.”
The “Report” audience received a consolation prize of Colbert dancing to “Get Lucky” along with stars including late-night host Jimmy Fallon, “House” actor Hugh Laurie, actor Jeff Bridges, and "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston, among others.
Fans may have gotten a surprise when they clicked on the new video for band Mumford & Sons’ song “Hopeless Wanderer.”
“Here’s the new video for ‘Hopeless Wanderer,’ featuring Mumf… oh wait,” the video on the band’s site read.
The video for “Wanderer” has actors Jason Bateman, Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis, and Ed Helms instead of the usual quartet of members that makes up the folk band. The comedians engage in goofy antics such as playing their instruments in a boat, getting very close to the camera, and Sudeikis kissing Forte. They also break many of their instruments near the end of the video.
The video only shows the actors’ hands on instruments or hides their faces until about a minute into the song, when it’s revealed that the actors are taking on the band’s parts.
Bateman tweeted out the video, writing “Rock and roll history...,” while Helms also tweeted a link to the video and wrote, “Proud to be a fake member of @MumfordAndSons I think we showed a lot of fake artistic integrity in new video.”
Sudeikis stars in the comedy “We Are the Millers,” which is hitting theaters Aug. 7, while Bateman’s Fox series “Arrested Development,” which originally ran from 2003 to 2006, recently aired a new season on Netflix. Helms’ NBC sitcom “The Office” wrapped its final season this past spring and he’s also appearing in “Millers” with Sudeikis and appeared in the new episodes of “Development.” Forte, who starred on “Saturday Night Live” with Sudeikis, recently appeared in "Grown Ups 2" and is voicing a character in the upcoming animated film “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.”
Sagal portrays Gemma Teller Morrow on "Sons" who is the wife of Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman), a former leader of the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle group, and the mother of Jax Teller, the current president of the group.
At Comic-Con, Sagal said it’s enjoyable to portray the sides of Gemma that are often in conflict on the show. (Gemma has a tumultuous relationship with her husband Clay and her husband and son can be rivals.)
“As an actor, it makes it interesting," she said, according to UPI. "That's part of the journey of being an actor, that you're exploring the human condition in whatever form that’s going on. There are a few things in the season that I'm like, 'Really?! Okay.’”
Sagal has played the character of Gemma since the beginning of “Sons,” which debuted in 2008. The show has been nominated for an Emmy for its theme music and Sagal won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama in 2011 for her work on the show.
Sagal starred on the 1987 sitcom “Married with Children” and the 2002 show “Eight Simple Rules.” She voices the character of Leela on the animated show “Futurama,” which will finish what is presumably its final season this September.
Hunt will play a magazine editor and mother who finds out her son (Brenton Thwaites of “The Giver”) has left college to pursue surfing and follows him to California, where she meets a surf instructor (Luke Wilson).
Actors Mike White (“Enlightened”) and David Zayas (“Dexter”) will also reportedly star in the film.
“Ride,” which Hunt will also produce and for which she wrote the script, is set to begin production early next week in Los Angeles.
The actress previously directed the 2007 movie “Then She Found Me,” which starred Hunt, Colin Firth, Bette Midler, and Matthew Broderick, as well as episodes of the TV shows “Californication” and “Revenge.” Hunt was also recently nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the 2012 movie “The Sessions.”
Hunt appeared in the 1986 film “Peggy Sue Got Married” and in the 1996 movie “Twister” with Bill Paxton as well as the 1997 film “As Good As It Gets” with Jack Nicholson. Her NBC show “Mad About You,” for which she directed several episodes as well as starring in the program, ran from 1992 to 1999.
Disney/Pixar’s Cars was a lucrative title for the joint studios (despite a so-so critical response), which explains why that computer-animated feature gave rise to a feature-length sequel and multiple short films. DisneyToon Studios is behind the newest spinoff for the franchise, in the form of the upcoming Planes.
Planes takes place in the Cars-verse – a world where anthropomorphic vehicles are the dominant species – and revolves around one Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook), a humble dust cropper with big dreams of competing in (and winning) a famous aerial race. The only problem? He suffers from a crippling fear of heights that prevents him from flying any higher than… well, high enough to dust crops, basically.
Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy) is the voice of Skipper, Dusty’s mentor – who helps his young protege to conquer his fear and realize his full potential – and, rounding out the voice supporting cast, are the former Top Gun costars Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards, in addition to Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives) and Brad Garrett (‘Till Death), as well as comedians John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer and Sinbad.
Planes is the first DisneyToon Studios film that will release in theaters since Pooh’s Heffalump Movie opened in 2005 (remember that one?). The fact that it was also originally slated for a direct-to-DVD release is probably telling about the film’s quality. Similarly, the trailer doesn’t inspire much confidence in screenwriter Jeffrey M. Howard and Klay Hall – who’ve both worked on Disney’s video-only Tinker Bell movies – as far as their ability to deliver a ‘toon with exceptional storytelling.
In other words: you’ll probably be fine, waiting to either buy or rent Planes – for your kids to watch – when it’s available in the DVD/Blu-ray format.
Smollett-Bell will be playing a character named Heather Hall who becomes Kristina (Monica Potter)’s campaign manager. On the show, Kristina running for political office will reportedly be a large part of the fifth season.
TVLine described the part as a “major recurring role.”
Smollett-Bell is currently appearing on “True Blood” as Nicole Wright, a member of a group that wants to protect vampires and other supernatural beings like shapeshifters and werewolves from those who believe them dangerous. Nicole has also become a love interest for bartender Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell).
The actress guest-starred on the recent TV series “The Mob Doctor” and starred on the NBC drama “Friday Night Lights” near the end of the show’s run. She has also guest-starred on shows such as “The Defenders,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “House.”
“Parenthood,” which is based on the 1989 film starring Steve Martin, has aired on NBC since 2010 and revolves around an extended family, the Bravermans. It stars “Coach” actor Craig T. Nelson, “Six Feet Under” actor Peter Krause, “Hit and Run” star Dax Shepard, and “Gilmore Girls” star Lauren Graham.
The show has been well-received by critics and was nominated once for an Emmy award, for actor Jason Ritter’s guest turn on the show. It has often placed on reviewers’ list of the best shows of the year since it began airing.
As noted by TVLine, many other former “Friday Night Lights” actors have guest-starred on “Parenthood,” including Minka Kelly, Derek Phillips, and Michael B. Jordan. “Friday Night Lights” head writer and executive producer Jason Katims is the head writer for and developed “Parenthood.”
Netflix’s resurrection of the beloved but short-lived Arrested Development helped cement it’s emerging pre-eminence in original online content. The news of a new season was so over-hyped that when the entire season 4 was finally made available, some critics were underwhelmed and kind of perplexed. The show’s fourth season turned out to be a departure from what came before, with each episode focusing mainly on one character at a time and overlapping in a way that only made sense once you’d watched them all… and then re-watched them.
Despite the mixed response from a vocal minority, creator Mitch Hurwitz wanted to do a season 5. Netflix seemed interested, with CEO Reed Hastings saying it was up to the “talent.” Now we have a confirmation from Hurwitz that it’s “definitely” happening… either as a series or a movie.
Chortle reports that during a Q&A with Hurwitz and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal, Hurwitz was asked whether or not we’d be seeing another season. “Definitely,“ he stated. Then he turned to Sarandos and said, “I don’t want to get into a whole negotiation right now… but I’ve got a family to feed.”
Hurwitz went on:
“I keep thinking about it, and why don’t we do the movie version of this and then do the series, because this series kinda peaks with the story?
“I kinda go back and forth between that and a series. But here’s the most important thing, whatever we do, I want to get the cast all together and not do another anthology thing, and that’s why I keep thinking about kicking off with a special or a three-part show and then going into a series.”
Hurwitz then turned to Sarandos and asked, “Are you game for that?” Sarandos responded, “Absolutely. In any form.” While a movie had been talked about prior to season 4, it was pushed back in favor of an anthology series that could catch everyone up on the lives of the Bluths. According to Hurwitz, he would discuss the movie idea with Jeffrey Tambor, who plays Bluth family patriarch George Sr. and his twin brother Oscar:
“We would see each other and talk about it, and then it would end up in the press with him saying ‘We’re doing it!’, but we didn’t have have a deal, we [didn't] own the property – 20th Century Fox [owned] the property – and there were a lot of things to get in place.”
“And also part of it was us stalling a little bit, too, waiting to see if the right idea came to us. And I think it has. We have it basically, we have the next step.”
Netflix does not release audience values, but it’s safe to presume that no one would be publicly discussing moving forward with a new season if the show had not successfully drawn enough viewers.
The recent Emmy nominations for Arrested Development (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Musical Composition for a Series), along with fellow originals House of Cards (nine) and Hemlock Grove (two) have suddenly changed the entire idea of what “television” is, in ways that are not entirely clear just yet.
Netflix’s success in this arena will likely re-ignite cries for the company to bring back other beloved series. There have been reports that they have negotiated with the creators of the fascinating, short-lived Jericho, but nothing has come of it.
Still, we’re getting more Arrested Development, and that’s a good thing. Expect more news on the streaming front as details emerge.