When 'Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief' came out in 2010, it looked suspiciously as if the would-be franchise, based on Rick Riordan's best-selling teen adventure books, was going to get 'Golden Compass'-ed -- stopped after one installment and left to languish. But the first adventures of title hero Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) -- born to a mortal mother and the Greek God Poseidon made $226 million worldwide, never mind home video.
So, we get a second helping of Percy's adventures, which mix the home-away-from-home setting and grow-up-fast themes of 'Harry Potter' with some all-American gumption and a little Greek dressing on the side. With a new writer and director -- and what seems like a budget spent more on computer effects than human actors -- 'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' is exactly the kind of film that was made for me to take my teen and tween nieces to, not for me to enjoy. There's some bloodless peril, not even a whiff of romance and plenty of spirited action.
As basically a three-word genre mash-up -- monsters vs. robots -- the announcement that Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures were making 'Pacific Rim' didn't really need to offer much more than just that siren-song simple idea. But it did, promising a big canvas for a big talent, the director Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro isn't a household name -- unless you live in Austin -- but he's the outsized outsider genius behind movies like 'Hellboy' and 'Blade 2' as well as films like 'Pan's Labyrinth' and 'The Devil's Backbone.' And while counting down to 'Pacific Rim,' I had the feeling that while it was nice to have someone spending $200 million to make what my inner 12-year-old would no doubt consider the perfect summer movie, my adult self couldn't help but be suspicious of anyone who'd spend that much money on a pre-teen's idea of the perfect summer movie.
It's easy to feel ambiguous about Halloween -- so much delight and so much excess, every sign of joy on the face of a true believer paid for with a grim, hobbled, hollow-eyed walk of shame home on one broken high heel -- in my case, a shame specifically because my "Sexy Ripley in 'Aliens'" costume was, like, totally both interpretive and respectful. But there can...
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