Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
(PG, 106 minutes, Fox): The second film based on Rick Riordans immensely popular books about a dyslexic boy who discovers he is a demigod is a desperately-trying-to-be-epic adventure.
It features droll quips from Stanley Tucci and Nathan Fillion, who play small but enjoyable supporting roles. But even likable actors cant obscure the fact that this thing is a slog, a movie that dutifully hits its plot points involving prophecies and fleeces without evoking a whiff of spirit or imagination.
Its a shame that the millions of readers who fell in love with Riordans classic-meets-contemporary childrens stories have been handed such limp adaptations of the material. The first, 2010s Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, was respectable but dull, while Sea of Monsters, as directed by Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), is dull and awkwardly executed. Its less a theatrical release than a Disney Channel special that got dressed up in CGI clothes.
Contains fantasy action violence, some scary images and mild language. Extras: Back to Camp Half-Blood and Its All in the Eye featurettes. On Blu-ray: Deconstructing a Demigod featurette, a motion comic and collectible character cards.
(R, 153 minutes, Warner Bros.): This crime thriller starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal is a well-executed example of pulp miserablism in the tradition of Seven and its grisly imitators.
Given gravitas by Christian imagery and a mood of millennial survivalist desperation, this pulp procedural joins a long line of films that sell themselves by way of the very depravity and malignant moral imagination they pretend to deplore.
Jackman plays Keller Dover, a Pennsylvania contractor who with his family has joined friends and neighbors the Birches (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis) and their kids for Thanksgiving dinner when young Anna Dover and Joy Birch go missing. A local detective named Loki (Gyllenhaal) takes the case, and when a suspect emerges, a battle of wills ensues as Dover whose motto is Be ready and who keeps a gas mask, generators and canned goods in his basement threatens to take matters into his own hands.
Contains disturbing violent content, including torture, and language throughout. Extras: Every Moment Matters and Powerful Performances featurettes.
The Lone Ranger
(PG-13, 149 minutes, Warner Bros.): Starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp, this reboot of the franchise Western is a mishmash of styles, genres and tonal shifts.
The Lone Ranger may best be understood and appreciated as one long homage to Depp. As Tonto, the Lone Rangers stoic sidekick, Depp both challenges and indulges in the caricatures that made Jay Silverheels TV character such a lightning rod for Native American outrage.
Contains sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material. Extras: a blooper reel; deleted scene; behind-the-scenes featurette on the train sequences; a location tour; and a Becoming a Cowboy featurette that follows the cast to boot camp, where they experienced what their characters would really be living like in the Wild West.