The production of new action adventure movie Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters served as a major clean-up operation for one of New Orleans, Louisiana's most beloved amusement parks after director Thor Freudenthal chose to turn The Six Flags Jazzland attraction into his Circeland on the island of Polyphemus. In order to film there, the moviemaker and his crew had to clear the theme park of alligators, snakes and debris which had been dumped there by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 - and they did such a good job, locals thought the old place had re-opened.
He tells WENN, "When we first scouted the location there were a lot of alligators, snakes, brush that we didn't want to set foot in, so, to be respectful to nature, we retrieved the alligators and levelled the grounds inside the rollercoaster, which looked like a rainforest.
"There were a lot of things to do to level it for the crew and actors to work there. Ironically, no one was hurt by alligators but everyone was bitten by mosquitoes! One of the crew actually caught a baby alligator which is something I've never seen before and he held it in his two hands, showing it to everyone. That thing didn't bite but it snapped a little.
"The park is set outside of New Orleans in the middle of nowhere and there are not a lot of houses and neighbourhoods surrounding it, but when we lit it all up at night to shoot, people thought Jazzland was open again! At least we made good use of the place."
His leading lady Alexandra Daddario admits she loved shooting at the abandoned park: "There were baby alligators running around and we found armadillos and a lot of bugs and snakes. It was cool to shoot there. It was swampland and it had been flooded and abandoned for years so it's an incredibly creepy and cool place. I was really excited to shoot there, but I'm not enthusiastic about bugs or alligators."
Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians books are great fun and wonderfully told stories, but the movie adaptations just can’t seem to hold their own in comparison. Sea of Monsters manages to do a better job than the first in the franchise, The Lightning Thief, but still doesn't quite reach success.
The movie opens with a fairly exciting obstacle course, a giant mechanical bull on a rampage, and a taxi that appears out of smoke and can split itself in half. In fact, the visuals throughout proves to be one of the better aspects of the movie. The story of how Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades destroy Kronos is told through an animation that looks like stained glass and is particularly striking, even if it does slightly resemble the telling of the Peverell brothers’ story in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. But visuals can only take the movie so far if everything else needs work.
The actors aren't wholly to blame for the underwhelming nature of the movie. Many of them have done well in other movies and TV. Logan Lerman (Percy) was excellent in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Jake Abel (Luke) had a great story arc on Supernatural. And Anthony Head has done everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Little Britain, and has even spent some time doing theater work. But they had to work with the script, and that was what caused a lot of the film's problems. There were a few humorous one-liners, but for the most part the script was cheesy and forced. There were even a couple of times when I actually cringed. And yes, it is a story about teenagers who are half human and half Greek god, but the books were never cringe-worthy. That fault lies with screenwriter Marc Guggenheim (who also wrote Green Lantern, which didn’t turn out so well either).
The movie felt very rushed. Rather than telling a story that flowed from one scene to the next, things were a bit choppy. The different stages of the teen demigods' journey seemed like they were cut together without proper transitions, as if they had to move on to the next scene as quickly as possible, even if that meant giving only the basics of the story. The camp is attacked, and then suddently they're in D.C.. After that, Grover is kidnapped. Oh look, now they're on a boat. Then, they're suddenly on a different boat in the stomach of Charybdis. No, wait a minute, look out for the cyclops! Never mind, it's not that big of a deal. Kronos is though, for about a second. Okay, they're back at camp and everything is right in the world. The method left the characters looking rather two-dimensional (a fact that was not improved by seeing the movie in 3D).
The only characters that had any sort of depth were Mr. D (Stanley Tucci) and Hermes (Nathan Fillion), and that had more to do with their performances (however small) than with the script. Tucci had the theater laughing every time he was onscreen, particularly at his inability to remember anyone's names (and that fact that he really didn't care to). Fillion also kept the laughs coming, and Firefly fans in particular will appreciate his line about the best TV show ever being canceled, even if the comparison was unintentional.
The movie feels less like an adaptation and more like director Thor Freudenthal read a summary of the book and adapted that instead. But, as I said, it is a better adaptation than The Lightning Thief, and maybe things will improve even more if The Titan’s Curse is adapted.
If you can get past the cheesy script, Sea of Monsters isn't all bad, just a bit shallow. The depth that Riordan brings to the book doesn't exist in the movie, and that's it's downfall. It goes from potentially being one of the better YA adaptations out right now to just another summer movie that fell short. But it does have its moments, and if you're looking for an entertaining and slightly laughable way to spend your time, there are worse things you could be doing.
Follow Jordyn on Twitter @jordynmyah | Follow Hollywood.com on Twitter @Hollywood_com
More:New 'Sea of Monsters' Clips Prove New York City Cabs Are Chariots of DamnationNathan Fillion Really Rocks a Suit In 'Sea of Monsters' Trailer'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters': The Battle of Greek Gods Vs. Titans Continues
From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
Russell Brand's film work to date hasn't exactly appealed to the family crowd or horror enthusiasts (though Hop was easily one of the scariest films of 2011 in all the wrong ways), but nonetheless he'll star in a film that will bring the two audiences together. Paramount Pictures and Platinum Dunes - the production company headed by Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller - have set the Get Him to the Greek comedian to topline a supernatural children's tale titled Hauntrepreneur, which comes from a spec script from Scott Rosenberg (Kangaroo Jack, Con Air).
The story is said to revolve around a family that has trouble adjusting to life in a new town and then hires a peculiar man who calls himself "the Hauntrepreneur" to help. To unite them, the eccentric figure creates a haunted house filled with a horde of odd creatures and, one would assume, pits them against the family. No other casting decisions have been made, but now that the titular role has been filled, the search for a director has begun.
Based on that brief description, I'm getting the feeling that Hauntrepreneur will boast shades of Beetlejuice, Poltergeist and The Haunted Mansion along with state-of-the-art special effects to bring an army of monsters to life. With Michael Bay and company involved you know you're in for an adrenaline pumping adventure, and Brand has the whole over-the-top thing down pat, so I'm excited to see what kind of gusto he'll bring to an out-of-this-world character like this. The only red flag I see at this stage is the fore mentioned parties producing a "family film." Even in his more toned-down big-screen appearances, Brand is raunchier than a late-night White Castle feast. And family friendly isn't in Bay's vocabulary. Together, they are a recipe for cinematic vulgarity unlike the world has ever seen. I think it's going to take a filmmaker on the other side of the scale to balance this production out - might I suggest an Andy Fickman or Thor Freudenthal?
Welcome to the future, the world of multi-platform entertainment where web series that you watch on your iPad complement the show you watch on your television while you simultaneously read the character’s twitter account on your Blackberry. Just kidding, of course. No one will have a Blackberry in a year. But in all reality, get ready for a bunch of media synergy and organic virility and other corporate buzz words as “they” try to cram everything they sell into one immersive package.
Leading the pack is Charlie’s Angels director, McG, who just cast Twilight’s Jackson Rathbone in the lead for Aim High. The multi-platform... ummm series? event? telethon? follows a typical teenager (Rathbone, who is 25) as he makes his way through a new school where he crushes on a cute girl (Aimee Teegarden of Friday Night Lights and Stupid Names, A Defining List) who has a boyfriend that threatens to beat him up if he looks at her wrong. Oh, and he also happens to be a spy. So how will he be able to stop the Russians from stealing the plans AND make it to prom? Be sure to catch it on your Aim High mobile App!
I’m all for cross promotion and developing other mediums as mediums of story telling, but this just seems crass. Maybe because it's the guy that produced The O.C. and the other dude from The Last Airbender. Or it could be the director, Thor Freudenthal, who made Hotel For Dogs. But in all honesty, I’m just jealous of all these guys' awesome names.
Source: Warner Premiere
Bryan Singer and McG are looking at a little smaller screen than usual -- the computer monitor.
The two directors -- known for their extravagant action and superhero movies -- are each producing their own multi-platform series, and they're bringing some directing talent with them: Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and Stewart Hendler (Sorority Row). If the digital shows go over well, they could spawn spin-offs, TV shows, or even full-length movies.
Singer is producing H+. Although it sounds like it's about the life of a positively charged hydrogen molecule, the series is a bit more negative (see what I did there?). The studio release describes it as an "apocalyptic journey into the future where technology has gone horrifically wrong. In 2019, 33% of the world's population uses a radical new piece of technology -- an implemented computer system called H +. This allows a person's mind and nervous system to be connected to the Internet 24 hours a day." And you watch this on the internet. Holy crap.
McG is responsible for Aim High, which definitely sounds like a McG-ish-style project. It's about a teenager who has every high school kid's dream -- doubling as a government assassin at night. And of course, he deals with the typical high school problems: girls, bullies, and Russian spies.
There's no doubt that both shows sound interesting. But, can they pull this off? I mean, online spin-offs from TV shows or movies is understandable (and has been done numerous times), but the other way around? I just don't know if I see it actually happening. Regardless, with Singer and McG involved, there will definitely be some sizable explosions.
Source: Warner Bros. Entertainment
Two orphaned kids Andi (Emma Roberts) and her mechanical whiz of a younger brother Bruce (Jake T. Austin) live in a foster home with a couple of aging wannabe rock stars (Lisa Kudrow Kevin Dillon) who are vehemently anti-pet. Running out of ways to keep their stray pooch Friday hidden in plain sight they stumble on to an abandoned hotel that turns out to be the perfect shelter for Friday – and transform the place into luxury accommodations for all sorts of unwanted pets they spring from the local pound and the streets. But can they stay one step ahead of the law while keeping this United Nations of dogs in line? Human actors don’t have a chance against the gifted assortment of canines. With dogs of every breed from a border collie who loves to herd sheep (don’t ask) to an English bulldog obsessed with chewing stuff the trainers deliver a cast that flawlessly pulls off every dog trick in the book. Fortunately Roberts (Nancy Drew) and Austin are winning and likeable as the two main kids who share a need for family with their four-legged counterparts. Kudrow and Dillon don’t get a whole lot to do in strictly stereotyped roles but Don Cheadle as the kids’ social worker adds a nice touch of dignity and warmth to the story. For his first American feature German director Thor Freudenthal got the supreme challenge: working with kids and animals. Getting this furry menagerie to act on cue could not have been easy but Freundenthal and his talented trainers make it look so. Particularly amusing are the various gadgets and elaborate contraptions Bruce builds to keep the doggies occupied and quiet -- including simulated car windows they can stick their heads out of portable toilets complicated feeding machines and on and on. Just like the current hit Marley & Me it’s a funny and heartwarming family comedy.