Phil Hubbs (phubbs1)UK
Phil's Recent Reviews
Much better film title this time around, loving the sound of it, alas if only the film was actually as good. The franchise moves on, the next chapter adapted from the novel of the same name, basically Greek mythology set within our present day and updated.
This time our young hero 'Percy' must find the Golden Fleece to heal a magical tree that protects his home of Camp Half-Blood. The fleece can be found in the lair of the Cyclops 'Polyphemus' which itself lies within the Sea of Monsters (Bermuda Triangle). So off our little intrepid adventurers go to find it and save the world as we know it...kinda. Oh and did I forget to mention there are some bad guys also trying to get the fleece to raise 'Kronos'? well there you go.
In all honesty I can't really recall much about the first film, it got so easily lost in a whirlwind of Potter-mania and some other nondescript replicas, but I did seem to slightly enjoy it according to my review (yep I read em). This of course is still the main problem with this franchise and any other really...they will always be compared to the superior Harry Potter. The kid with specs set the bar high and was the first big budget fantasy of its kind to do really well. After that every else has seemed weak in comparison, merely average imitations.
This film does itself no favours simply because it looks average in the special effects department, a major flaw for a fantasy. Right from the start everything just looks lame, Camp Half-Blood just looks like some kind of summer holiday Cub Scout camp where you'd eat sausage n baked beans for dinner. The big creatures are obviously CGI and boy do they look it, most of them just stand out big time, that large mechanical bull that attacks the camp is laughable. There are various other big creatures throughout that are all CGI and none look any good frankly, accept for the odd closeup perhaps. The finale with Kronos is the same, if these were videogame in-game sequences I'd be impressed, but they aren't.
Some sequences really do look truly awful in fact, I'm amazed they got through into the finished film!. When the young trio ride a big Seahorse thingy across the sea to reach the bad guys yacht, that is a bad one (oh and the yacht? that doesn't feel very fantasy-like does it, kinda out of place). They are riding a wet slippery sea creature at speed, yet they aren't holding on to anything, how do they stay on its back people?! plus they didn't seem all that wet afterwards. Then a bit later on in the same scene we see Percy and Luke ride/surf a big wave...don't ask it looks terrible, all the water effects look terrible.
The only bit of originality to rear its head appeared to be the concept of making the three Stygian witches cab drivers in a yellow New York cab. A unique approach for sure and one that sort of works I guess...but then I realised I'd seen a similar idea before in 'Scrooged'.
A common problem is the fact everything also seems so bland and derivative. All the characters are your bog standard types and offer nothing new, the hero, his sidekick, the female sidekick and the best friend who you know will get killed (and you also know will come back at the last minute). Next to that are the bog standard baddies led by the good looking charmer with blonde hair. I mean come on...at least lets try and make the characters look different from the Potter clan jesus!. You don't care about any of them because they are all so cliched, we've seen this all before and you know none of them will come to harm anyway so what's the point?.
I guess what bothered me the most was the film was clearly trying to be epic, every scene is accompanied by a strong musical score as if that will make it so. Its not meant to be a dark emotional journey with teen angst that's for sure, its a light-hearted fantasy that doesn't show much or any death, but everything is built up to enormous proportions only to let you down. You simply can't connect with any of the characters or what's going on because the whole thing is such a basic videogame with step by step action sequences. Complete one task against a CGI foe, move on to the next, complete that task against a CGI puzzle, move on to the next...and so forth.
You can tell the whole franchise isn't really going as planned seeing as this is only the second film and already the cast continuity has been compromised, two major characters recast. Still I gotta give some kudos for the attempt at bringing Greek mythology into the present day even though it doesn't really work, or should that be kudos for the novel?.
Plenty of good morals throughout the adventure, lots of heroic actions and bouts of friendship that will make you gag, but the entire production is predictable, anti climatic and dull. A shoddy looking sequel which fails to better the first entry.
Coming along some five years after the similar themed 'Toy Soldiers', two films about schools under fire from criminals. I guess that's about as far as the similarities go though as this is an undercover mission for some mercs/Nam vets where as the other film was terrorists taking over the school.
So a nasty messed up city high school is plagued by drugs, weapons and bad eggs, what is the Principle to do??. Hire a badass killer merc of course, but the thing is he doesn't know the sub is a badass killer merc. So both the yobbish kids and the staff have no clue this guy is an ex-Nam hardass. As things progress for the Berenger the merc he finds out all is not what it seems.
A perfect role for the stoic butch looking Berenger who can play military types till the cows come home. Not much is required of him really, beating the kids down, killing drug dealers, being a smartass...all in a days work. His little tight nit group of mercs are a cool bunch, a young Luis Guzman, the insane William Forsythe, military action flick regular Ray Cruz and Richard Brooks. A really good team of character actors that are great fun to watch, its just a shame we don't more of them in action together.
Most of the film is a huge stereotypical montage of standard scenarios you can see coming a mile away. Its all very predictable and you know Berenger will never get hurt. Its undeniably fun to watch these sequences where the youths are acting up with their gangland dialect, waving their hands around making gang signs, virtually behaving like cartoon characters whilst being dressed like bums. At the same time all the girls looks greasy, sweaty and thoroughly unwashed haha need I say almost all the youths are black, Latino or Hispanic. Yep this film doesn't beat around the bush with racial attitudes towards suburban inner city schools in the US.
So yes you could say its racist and a bad image on certain groups of young people but dare I say could it also be the truth?. That aside its still a rush to see Berenger humiliate the posers and stamp his authority on the class. I must also say Marc Anthony is really well cast as the slimy skinny gangland leader within the class, a simmering undertone ready to pop. You really do dislike this guy as the plot builds, you know Berenger could kick his ass but he still has that ominous presence, plus the fact he's only suppose to be a teen makes him even more annoying when he gets all mouthy.
The whole thing is pretty hokey and like I said before it is very predictable. The finale shoot out within the school is cool though no doubt about that, although I would have preferred if the bad guys had brought lots of gang thugs to the battle instead of their special ops guys. That kinda dismisses the fact the good guys are a special ops team, its suppose to be mercs vs drug dealing thugs.
Still its very cool to see all of Berenger's mercs kick ass in their own unique way. A final kudos to Ernie Hudson as the shifty principle of the school, his performance isn't much better than his hammy role in 'Congo' but that's why its so good. Definitely a bit of an adrenaline rush at times with this one, I think everyone has had fantasies about kicking the crap out of their old school bullies at some point. This would probably be a step too far but I'm sure being a badass merc teaching out of control youths a lesson would still be right up there.
Phil's Favorite Movies
The predator is the greatest alien created, Stan Winston is a genius, the best 80's, adrenaline, testosterone, muscle filled action man flick ever with one of the best character actor line ups since 'Con Air' plus the effects still look better than most modern films today! The Austrian Oaks best flick for me by far and possibly my all time favourite film. 'I ain't got time to bleed'.
Another Stan Winston creation with Cameron direction, genius. State of the badass art! this film rocks on every level, the only downer for me is the fact that you never really saw hords of aliens, some would say its more powerful that way but I think it would have been more tense and savage. Its still the perfect film with the perfect ensemble cast, amazing tension, fantastic hands on effects, realistic working sci-fi, dark, gritty...hell I don't even really need to go on about it, awesometastic sequel!