I was ecstatic when Tee told me I had the opportunity to see an advance preview and screening of the new Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters film! The folks at Fox invited us bloggers out for breakfast, as well as a meet-and-greet with director Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Hotel for Dogs), and the primary cast. Logan Lerman reprises his role as the teen demigod Percy Jackson, along with his two BFF’s Brandon T. Jackson as Grover the satyr and Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth Chase, the half-human daughter of Athena, goddess of wisdom. For those new to this mythological, fantasy-adventure, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is based on the best-selling novel by Rick Riordan. As a fan of Riordan’s novels, Freudenthal was passionately driven to paint an enthralling and magical safe haven for the teen Half-Bloods in the latest sequel to the box office smash, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010). At the same time, as if taking over the directing helm from executive producer Chris Columbus (Harry Potter) wasn’t enough pressure, the film was shot in amazing 3D, using phenomenal CG-generated visual effects. Once again, we follow the daring sci-fi journey of teen demigods as they battle terrifying creatures on an epic quest, this time Jackson must save his beloved Camp Half-Blood and a mystical tree. In the blogger interview, we discussed an array of subjects…
First off, Freudenthal says directing this fantasy-adventure was the “opportunity of a lifetime!” After reading Riordan’s books, Freudanthal says, “I’m a new convert! This was an amazing opportunity!” He adds, “I was able to digitally create characters and scenes that one could only imagine.” Painting this hypnotic, multi-million dollar portrait calls for a vibrant cast agreeing to continue a Greek-style odyssey that commenced three years earlier. Both Fruedenthal and screenwriter Marc Guggenheim (Green Lantern, The Flash) decided that the half-human son of Poseidon should face numerous compelling obstacles that were relatable to today’s teens. With Jackson training at Camp Half-Blood, he’s now feeling unsure of himself since the newest Half-Blood on the scene, Clarisse La Rue (Leven Rambin, Hunger Games) has been conquering him in every battle. Fruedenthal adds, “Through himself and his friends, Jackson gains the confidence that he needs to succeed on his quest. And that’s what you can do in life.”
As far as facing real-life situations, Lerman whose father works at a children’s hospital says sometimes, it’s the little things that help motivate kids to keep fighting. Lerman says he autographs lots of Percy Jackson books. He says, “The movie makes them happy. And that goes for a lot of kids. So, it’s really cool, and that’s got to be one of the biggest benefits of doing a movie like this is. It’s a big movie and it’s a fun one to make. It is mainly for the kids, right? And it makes them happy, so it’s cool to be a part of a project like this in that way.” Brandon T. Jackson started out as a standup comic, and knows a little bit about struggling. He says, “I think that’s kind of like with any struggle you go through, if you’re down and you’re out, you learn to believe and that pushes you through to get to your next destination. “
Receiving little to no communication from Poseidon, Percy Jackson is feeling somewhat abandoned, and danger is always ever-present. With this concept in mind, comes the electrifying notion of ramping up the use of visual effects. The 3D digital imagery is mesmerizing! With this concept in mind, comes the electrifying idea of ramping up the use of visual effects. Special effects are in nearly every scene: from as little as the magical mist used by Tyson (Douglas Smith, Antiviral), one of the new characters (spoiler alert!!), he is Jackson’s half-brother by Poseidon. He possesses a Cyclops eye that can magically appear like two eyes within a matter of seconds when using magical mist! Tyson’s mother was a sea nymph. He too, speaks to Poseidon and calls ups water animals, such as the beautiful sea blue-colored Hippocampus, which has a horse’s head and torso, and silvery fish body with scales and fin. Jackson, Tyson, and Annabeth ride this mystical beast along the Sea of Monsters (actually it was Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans, Louisiana) toward Luke’s yacht, The Princess Andromeda in search of Grover, who’s been kidnapped by Luke. Tyson does his best to prove he’s trustworthy and a good brother. Trust me, looks can be deceiving. Although he is a smaller Cyclops, he has the heart and soul of an angel… This is one truth that Jackson must learn for himself before it is too late.
In this film, Freudenthal admits that he went for “big emotions,” in this vividly-engaging film that’s popping with plenty of moments for “tongue-in-cheek” humor. However, there’s much for the demigod Jackson to learn on this Greek-like quest, where according to the ancient Oracle, Jackson, “is either going to destroy Olympus or save it.” The mummy-looking skeleton with missing eye sockets further leaves an already self-doubting Jackson questioning his leadership capabilities. Jackson is really feeling abandoned by his absent dad Poseidon. Freudenthal says, “He’s grown distant from his father, who is not really responding to his requests for help. Percy embarks upon his ‘odyssey’ for two reasons: to save his home, and to ascertain if he is indeed a hero.”
No one wants to take over Camp Half-Blood, all the demigods, and Olympus as much as Jackson’s cousin, Luke (Jake Abel, Flash of Genius) “aka” the Lightning Thief, and half-human, son of Hermes, the messenger of gods. This mischievous demigod has a chockfull of supernatural tricks up his sleeve to break down the Camp Half-Blood wall. In the first film, he stole the lightning bolt, and planted it on Jackson. Now, he’s now attempting to bring back to life Kronos, the Titan. Luke thinks Titan will help him seize Olympus. Thus, he too wants the Golden Fleece, and is already building his own army of Half-Blood rebels!!
Just as bestselling Riordan imagined in his books, award-nominated production designer Claude Paré (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) worked tirelessly along with three art directors, three set designers, artists, carpenters, painters, set decorators, and more than 400 crew members to create Camp Half-Blood. Shot partly in British Columbia, Canada, and in New Orleans, Louisiana, this remarkable set includes a 200-seat, outdoor amphitheater; 43-foot tall mechanical training machine (inspired by medieval Leonardo da Vinci theories); the lair of the Cyclops, Polyphemus; and the neighboring, uninhabited amusement park on Polyphemus’ island. Camp Half-Blood is nestled in Robert Burnaby Park near the suburbs of Burnaby and east of Vancouver, British Columbia. Having personally lived up in Northern Washington, and extensively traveled throughout British Columbia with friends who still reside in the Burnaby area, I too, have gazed upon that beautiful countryside! For the demigods, Camp Half-Blood is their shelter away from subhuman, mechanical creatures like the fire-breathing Colchis Bull. Standing eight feet-tall at the shoulders, this rusty brown colored, monstrous, raging bull nearly pulverizes Jackson, before going head-to-head against Tyson, which is Jackson’s half-brother, and also part Cyclops!
You’ll find plenty of laughs to go along with this sci-fi rollercoaster of screams and cheers. One of those moments is what I call the “taxi ride from Hell,” when Annabeth hails a cab in the middle of the forest. It’s a 1960’s-era Yellow ghostly cab. Trust me, I would’ve never hopped in, but Jackson and his buddies do… This harrowing ride proves to be one eye-opening trip! It’s driven by “The Gray Sisters,” three ghosts sharing one single eye, Missi Pyle (The Artist), Mary Birdsong (Throws Like A Girl), and Yvette Nicole Brown (Repo Man). Although they’re blind to human sight, these fortunetellers share a single that sees into another world. While riding, the quarrelling sisters fight over who gets to hold the one eyeball!!
During the blogger session, Lerman says he enjoys playing the part of the unlikely hero, Percy Jackson. And yes, he understands that younger children look up to him as a role model because of the character he portrays. Brandon T. Jackson (Big Momma’s House), who reprises his role as the satyr, Grover Underwood chimed in saying, “We do have a responsibility to behave a certain way in public. And we try our best.” Jackson is Lerman’s protector and best friend in the adventure films. Alexandra Daddario also reprises her role as the demigod Annabeth Chase, the daughter of Athena. She says, “This is a great opportunity. Me, Logan and Brandon are locked in for several movies.” As if fighting evil monsters and the deceitful demigod Luke weren’t enough, Percy Jackson has another nemesis at Camp Half-Blood. Meet the gorgeous demigod daughter of Ares, Clarisse La Rue played by Leven Rambin (she played Glimmer in Hunger Games). This hot-tempered demigod is strong-willed, and ready to take over as leader of Camp Half-Blood.
However, the striking Rambin was soft-spoken and excited to join the young actors in the epic Jackson series. “I’m happy to be joining the cast. Like so many others, I loved the first movie,” says Rambin. There’s no doubt in my mind, you’ll enjoy Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters as well. Get ready. As far as this new quest for Percy Jackson, I think his counterpart Lerman puts it best: “It’s a big journey of discovering his [Jackson’s] confidence again, and it really connects to the meaning of the story: which is the value of family, and friends, and the loyalty between that group of people, which just makes everybody family. So, that kind of supports him, his friendships and everything into stepping up to the plate and being the hero again. And it’s not him. It’s everybody. That’s the thing. So, that’s another big thing about it, it’s about the importance of those relationships and family and all that.” Indeed. Percy Jackson and his demigod friends are facing a lot of fears, foes, and beasts in this new quest. But, they will prevail. Godspeed my friends…
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters hits theaters August 7.
* We were not compensated for this post. Penny attended a screening and a media event for review purposes. The review is in our own words and is our opinion. Your results and opinions may differ.