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James Rocchi

‘Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters’ Review

Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters Review
Fox

When 'Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief' came out in 2010, it looked suspiciously as if the would-be franchise, based on Rick Riordan's best-selling teen adventure books, was going to get 'Golden Compass'-ed -- stopped after one installment and left to languish. But the first adventures of title hero Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) -- born to a mortal mother and the Greek God Poseidon made $226 million worldwide, never mind home video.

So, we get a second helping of Percy's adventures, which mix the home-away-from-home setting and grow-up-fast themes of 'Harry Potter' with some all-American gumption and a little Greek dressing on the side. With a new writer and director -- and what seems like a budget spent more on computer effects than human actors -- 'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' is exactly the kind of film that was made for me to take my teen and tween nieces to, not for me to enjoy. There's some bloodless peril, not even a whiff of romance and plenty of spirited action.

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‘Pacific Rim’ Review

Pacific Rim Review
Warner Bros.

As basically a three-word genre mash-up -- monsters vs. robots -- the announcement that Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures were making 'Pacific Rim' didn't really need to offer much more than just that siren-song simple idea. But it did, promising a big canvas for a big talent, the director Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro isn't a household name -- unless you live in Austin -- but he's the outsized outsider genius behind movies like 'Hellboy' and 'Blade 2' as well as films like 'Pan's Labyrinth' and 'The Devil's Backbone.' And while counting down to 'Pacific Rim,' I had the feeling that while it was nice to have someone spending $200 million to make what my inner 12-year-old would no doubt consider the perfect summer movie, my adult self couldn't help but be suspicious of anyone who'd spend that much money on a pre-teen's idea of the perfect summer movie.

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New DVD Releases: ‘Resident Evil 5,’ ‘Total Recall’ and More

New DVD Releases
Universal/Screen Gems/Sony Pictures

New DVD releases, Blu-ray and streaming this week: goofy glee club action in 'Pitch Perfect,' kid-friendly fun in 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days,' Colin Farrell in the 'Total Recall' remake and more zombie-killing in 'Resident Evil: Retribution.'

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New to DVD and Blu-ray: ‘Ted,’ ‘The Bourne Legacy’ and Another ‘Ice Age’

New DVD and Bu-ray Releases
Universal/20th Century Fox/Universal

New on DVD, Blu-ray and streaming this week: 'Bourne' is back, 'Ice Age: Continental Drift' tries to keep a franchise warm, plus the raucous comedy of Seth MacFarlane's 'Ted' and Christopher Nolan's first film 'Following' gets the Criterion treatment.

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Retro Rental: ‘Playing For Keeps,’ and Playing Soccer for ‘Victory’

Playing for Keeps Victory
Film District/Paramount

I watched the romantic comedy 'Playing for Keeps' a while ago, starring Gerard Butler as an ex-soccer star adrift professionally and romantically, and the less said about that, the better. Soccer is a tough sport to capture on-screen, and an even tougher one to make Americans care about in large numbers -- I know that many of my friends care about the sport with a true fervor, to be sure, but they're islands in a sea of NFL games and NBA hubub, and the eternal MLB schedule.

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Retro Rental: Seeing ‘Killing Them Softly’? Check Out ‘The Assassination of Jesse James’ Instead

The Weinstein Co./Warner Bros.
The Weinstein Co./Warner Bros.

Brad Pitt and director Andrew Dominik's 'Killing them Softly' opens this weekend, and it's a film I consider as strained as it is strong -- for every great performance there's a heavy-handed bit of symbolism, and all the subtext is pretty much text. But it -- and a recent Variety article pondering if movies are too long (and, by the way, uh, the answer is "No," thank you very much) -- sent me back to thinking about 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,'  Pitt and Dominik's excellent, overlooked previous 2007 release.

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New to DVD and Blu-ray: ‘Men in Black 3,’ Family Friendly Scares and ‘Lawless’

Focus Features/Columbia Pictures/The Weinstein Co.
Focus Features/Columbia Pictures/The Weinstein Co.

New on DVD, Blu-ray and streaming this week, summertime action, a horror-comedy for kids, some bootlegging with bruising action, and creepy scares. ...

Retro Rental: It’s Thanksgiving (American Style) With ‘I’m Not There’

The Weinstein Co.
The Weinstein Co.

There's always the very good question of what, exactly, to watch on Thanksgiving when you're relaxing at home and -- not to put too fine a point on it -- jammed to satiety with food. In the past, I've recommended all-American epics like 'A Bridge Too Far' or Mann's 'Last of the Mohicans,' but this year, I thought of a near-perfect Thanksgiving film -- shot through with the American century, as subject to as many views and interpretations as possible, and as non-linear and trippy as anyone wigged out on turkey-conveyed tryptophan and red wine could ask for: Todd Haynes' 2007 'I'm Not There.'

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