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Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Director Thor Freudenthal Reflects on Movie

Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor

Director Thor Freudenthal

Director Thor Freudenthal

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters came to theaters almost three weeks ago on August 7th. The sequel to The Lightning Thief was well anticipated by fans, but has received a lackluster reception upon release. The movie holds a 38% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic assigned the film a score of 39/100.

Related: Check out Emertainment’s review here.

Commentary on the movie ranged from “there are worse sequels,” “[it’s] hardly the stuff of legend,” to “a thoroughly second-rate franchise” (ouch!).

Personally, the movie surpassed the first and–although had its issues–was still overall an enjoyable experience. Emertainment had the opportunity to sit down with Thor, who reflected on the movie and gave some explanation to certain areas that had fans in questions.

Emertainment Monthly: To start, what was your favorite scene to shoot and why?

Sea of Monsters 1

Hermes (Nathan Fillion) left and Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) right

Thor Freudenthal: That’s tough to decide – there are so many.  I liked shooting the introduction of the movie: Thalia’s story of sacrifice and transformation, and giving that a dark, yet hopeful tone. I also loved shooting the Hermes sequence with Nathan Fillion. Nathan is one of the most brilliant and funny actors I’ve ever worked with.

The scene with the mechanical bull really stood out as well choreographed and visually stunning. What was the process in making this scene come to life and did you pay particular attention to this scene during development.

The Colchis Bull

The Colchis Bull

I had a lot of fun with the Colchis Bull attack.  I looked at footage of bull runs from Spain, with people screaming and running in all directions.  That footage had a chaotic, kinetic quality I wanted for the film.  We previsualized the entire sequence on the computer so that the actors could be aware of the monster at all times.

The characters definitely have more physical stunts in this movie: the flips and the fighting were done much better in general. Did you set out to improve on this while working on the movie?

I definitely wanted to up the action this time around.  But rather than thinking of trumping something that came before, I just went with what each sequence demands and try to do the coolest stuff that’s possible under the given circumstances.  It’s a great testament to the actors that the stunts work so well, since we had a fairly short shooting schedule within which to accomplish that.

What was it like to incorporate Anthony Stewart Head as the new Chiron? It seemed like a seamless transition from a viewer standpoint.

Sea of Monsters 3

Pierce Brosnan as Chiron

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Anthony Head as Chiron

For Anthony and I it came back to how Chiron is in the books.  I feel like Chiron’s a mentor to Percy and as such an authority figure with a certain majesty and grace.  But he also has an ironic streak.  He likes to have fun and doesn’t always take himself that seriously.  Anthony does a great job at breaking Chiron’s pathos with a dose of humor every now and then.  That’s what we both set out to do. 

Was was your thought process in telling Kronos’ story? The style in which it was told reminded me of stained glass, which gave it a Christian kind of feel (stained glass in churches and what not). What was your thought process in developing this scene?

I wanted a storybook-style sequence to tell that backstory.  Our production designer Claude Pare had designed a stained-glass window for the Oracle’s attic.  That gave me the idea – why not dive into it to tell our story?  I love when animation makes use of the limitations its style imposes.  We did that with this sequence.  Every movement, every part of that world feels like it could be accomplished with glass. I liked that flatness in the imagery.  It gives the sequence a diorama-like feel.

What made you choose to remove the siren scene, where Annabeth is tied to the mast of the boat as she and Percy traverse the Sea of Monsters?

That was one of my favorite scenes in the book.  I loved how it reveals Annabeth’s inner longings and also brings Percy and Annabeth closer together in an almost intimate way.  But like with a lot of painful cuts that had to be made, the reasons were mostly time and money.  We were telling the story of retrieving the Golden Fleece and rescuing Grover.  Annabeth’s moment wasn’t directly related to that so it ultimately had to go. 

What made you include the scene with Kronos at the end, where he materializes and fights Percy?

Kronos as seen in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Kronos as seen in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Simple.  We had to set up Kronos in this movie in a big way – since it’s Luke’s stated goal to resurrect him.  Kronos is mentioned in the beginning by the Oracle and later Luke reveals his plan to resurrect him. All those mentions needed a dramatic payoff.  That’s why we decided to bring Kronos into the movie. It also gave me the chance to make this finale different from Percy and Luke’s fight in the first movie.

Are there plans to adapt the rest of the series?

We will have to wait and see.

What are you most proud of and what would you change a second time around?

I’m most proud of our actors’ performances.  This movie and the books toe the line between comedy and dramatic action.  And I feel our actors understood that tone and realized it beautifully.  The next time around I would go with the progressive darkening tone of the books.  It’s what the stories demand.

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All in all, it seemed like Thor had a clear vision of what he wanted to bring to the table with Sea of Monsters. The addition of Kronos at the end of the movie seemed strange when thinking of the entire Percy Jackson & the Olympians story, but how that will impact the remainder of the series has yet to be seen.

One question was unfortunately left out by the director–most likely due to time constraints in his travels abroad promoting the movie–but it’s one that we’re sure fans of the series have on their minds: One minor detail that stood out was that Selina Beauregard was named and identified aboard Luke’s ship. She’s important in the final book when she’s revealed to be a traitor then. How will this impact the story in future movies?

Be sure to check out Sea of Monsters if you haven’t already!

1 Comment on Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Director Thor Freudenthal Reflects on Movie

  1. Reblogged this on Larkin Library Online and commented:
    Also in cinemas!

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