The Percy Jackson Series
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (February 11/10)
Based on the ongoing fantasy series, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief follows average teenager Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) as he embarks on a perilous quest after learning that he's the half-human son of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd). Director Chris Columbus - working from a script by Craig Titley - has infused Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief with an unapologetically goofy sensibility that often threatens to segue into high camp, as the movie boasts a whole host of intentionally ludicrous elements that prove effective in consistently holding the viewer's interest. The less-than-fresh nature of Percy's quest - ie his sidekick is a sarcastic black guy, for crying out loud - is subsequently not as problematic as one might've assumed, with the hit-and-miss midsection alleviated by the inclusion of several tongue-in-cheek encounters and interludes (ie a slinky Uma Thurman makes a one-scene appearance as Medusa, Pierce Brosnan has a recurring role as a helpful centaur, etc). Columbus' expected reliance on computer-generated effects is lamentable, admittedly, yet it's worth noting that the filmmaker generally compensates for the needless digital trickery by hard-wiring the proceedings with a fun, '80s-adventure-movie sort of vibe. And although Lerman's personable work as the title character is often overshadowed by the progressively broad spectacle surrounding him, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief ultimately establishes itself as an agreeable fantasy adventure that should leave fans of the genre satisfied.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
The Percy Jackson series continues with an installment that impressively fares almost as well as its above-average predecessor, with the film following the title hero (Logan Lerman) as he and two friends (Alexandra Daddario's Annabeth and Brandon T. Jackson's Grover) embark on a mission to recover a mythical object called the Golden Fleece. It's immediately clear that Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' greatest asset is its cast, with Lerman's tremendously appealing turn as the central character matched by a strong roster of periphery performers that includes, among others, Stanley Tucci, Anthony Head, and Nathan Fillion. (The latter's brief yet irresistible work as Hermes stands as a highlight within the proceedings, to be sure.) There's little doubt, as well, that the movie benefits substantially from Marc Guggenheim's agreeably episodic screenplay, as the film shuttles from one entertaining, engaging set-piece to the next at an irresistibly brisk pace - with filmmaker Thor Freudenthal infusing such moments with an appreciatively old-school feel that compensates for a general overuse of computer-generated effects. And although Guggenheim layers in a few too many last-minute saves - three characters are revived after their apparent deaths - Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is ultimately a fine, consistently entertaining adventure film that leaves one craving the next entry in this hopefully ongoing series.