'Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters'

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21 Aug 2013 ... Your Kids are Explorers. Bookazine is their expedition. 'Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters'. COURTESY OF DREAM WORKS ANIMATION LLC.


AUGUST 15 - 21, 2013

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‘Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters’


BY MARK JACKSON EPOCH TIMES STAFF What’s the wanton ransacking of myths, the sullying of ancient Grecian aesthetics with modern Dude-iPad-Whatever culture, and the unashamed ripping off of the superior Harry Potter series called? Kitsch. “Good artists borrow, great artists steal,” it’s been said. While not the most honourable of expressions, it’s true that there’s nothing new under the sun. Let’s call it a “re-telling”. If the re-telling is subtle enough that you can’t spot the influence, or if you do, you don’t mind – that’s generally good art. If it’s a brazen wholesale ransacking – that’s usually bad art. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, is a wall-to-wall, ransacking rip-off. I can imagine the archetypal cigar-chomping Hollywood mogul behind his desk hollering, “Get me kiddie product! It’s easy! Grab the ‘half-blood’ concept from ‘Harry Potter’ and mash it up with Greek mythology!” “Mash-up” is a musical term. Actually, just about everything existing in the world today is some form of mixed-up mash-up. But is it good for kids? Let’s see. Here’s the story: You’ve got your “CampHalf-Blood”. It’s a sleep-away camp for elite, good-looking, often spoiled 90210-type kids, except they’re all half deities. Stanley Tucci plays god-of-wine Dionysus, a polo-shirted, goateed, functioning-alcoholic twit of a camp counsellor, who doesn’t get that he ought not to say “whatever” all the time, like the campers do, because he’s not 14. The movie kicks off with a flashback to one camper, Thalia, sacrificing her life by holding off a Cyclops attack. Father god Zeus then creates a tree out of Thalia’s body, which emanates an invisible barrier that protects Camp

Half-Blood. Then one fine happy-camper day, a mechanical bull (don’t ask) breaks the barrier and snorts around the camp, attempting to gore campers. Our hero, Percy, “spawn” of sea god Poseidon, looks like the young Christian Slater. He has a trusty sidekick, an African-American faun named Grover – horns, cloven hoofs, shortish Afro. (Fauns also come in Caucasian, by the way.) They go on an adventure to find the Golden Fleece, which will heal the tree and revive the barrier. They’re accompanied by Percy’s uncool half-brother Tyson; a socially inept, dread-locked, golden-hearted, hippieish Cyclops. (Is that an army jacket he’s wearing?) Also joining them is the beautiful but prejudiced (against Cyclops) Annabeth, demigod daughter of Pallas Athena, goddess of wisdom. She inherited all that wisdom but still uses an iPad. And they’re going to have some competition from the egotistical, über-brat child of war-god Ares, Clarisse. They ride a hippocampus! (It’s a horse-mermaid-fish). They do battle on an awesome yacht! They get sucked down the giant maw of “Charybdis”, a classic Greek sea monster. They end up in its stomach, which, obviously unbeknown to Homer (Homer wrote The Odyssey) now also doubles as the Bermuda Triangle. They shoot holes in Charybdis’s stomach with a big gun from a 1940s destroyer that got sucked into the Triangle! This gets them to Polyphemus’s place; he’s the huge Cyclops who once tried to munch Odysseus. He’s got the Golden Fleece. He’s voiced by Ron Pearlman. Polyphemus lives on Coney Island. That’s not its real name, but his island is an amusement park. Yep. It’s got a rollercoaster, Tilt-a-

Whirl, and, um, SpaceMountain. Are we getting a sense of the overwhelming bad-taste mash-upness here yet? The kit-and-caboodle ransacking sellout geared to drain your kiddie dollars? It’s like a city dump – you can find anything in there. But would you want to? In the highly regarded Rudolf Steiner School curriculum, Greek mythology is taught in the 5th grade in all its solemn, pure pageantry. Pictures are painted, poems from the Greek classics are learned by heart, costumes are made, and plays performed. That’s good stuff. Can we find anything in “Percy”

to ameliorate the mash-up tacki- … cheap and marketable … mimics ness? Are there lessons for the its immediate predecessor with no kiddies to learn? Bravery and self- regard to ethics; it “offers instanlessness are good. taneous emotional gratification”. Model-y Annabeth overcomes C’mon Hollywood, give the kids her Cyclops prejudice. Clarisse some purity so they can regain learns to play well with others. some morals and some ideas That’s pretty much it. about how to purify the mashedWhat’s the wanton ransacking up, kitschy, apocalyptic world we of myths, the sullying of ancient created for them! Well, that was some admittedly Grecian aesthetics with modern Dude-iPad-Whatever culture, and overly serious self-righteous the unashamed ripping off of the wind-baggery. It’s just a kids’ film, superior “Harry Potter” series for goodness’ sake – why’s this called? Kitsch. reviewer getting so excited? Well, Wikipedia defines it: “Kitsch we care, folks! is a style of mass-produced art But never mind, there are worse or design using cultural icons … things you could take your kids unsubstantial or gaudy works … to – like “Saw VIII” for instance. calculated to have popular appeal Plenty of people actually drag


(L–R) Tyson (Douglas Smith), Clarisse (Leven Rambin), Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and Percy (Logan Lerman) are shocked by their latest discovery. small children to that (expletive deleted). Children will probably enjoy “Percy”. It’ll be a reasonably fun outing. A review of 3.5 stars for kids and 1.5 for parents equals: The movie is also available in 3D from 15 August in Hong Kong.

Your Kids are Explorers. Bookazine is their expedition.


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