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Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

2013 | 107 min | PG | 2.39:1

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters


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Theatrical release date

 07 August, 2013
 07 August, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

3D (converted)

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Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters


Screenshots from Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters 3D Blu-ray

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, August 7, 2013

It’s actually surprising to be confronted with a sequel to the 2010 release, “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” While a modest success, the picture didn’t inspire the type of pop culture ubiquity that normally shadows blockbuster franchises, but the producers aren’t giving up just yet, submitting the more compactly titled “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” to the moviegoing public, hoping to build on a foundation poured by director Chris Columbus. There is noticeable improvement here, with a general muting of slapstick tendencies to shape the material into a straightforward adventure/visual effects orgy, finding helmer Thor Freudenthal conjuring the forces of Spielberg and Rowling to craft a fantasy romp that, much like its predecessor, is far too tense with exposition to really let ‘er rip.

Trying to make his mark at Camp Half-Blood, Percy (Logan Lerman) isn’t feeling the majesty of his heroic destiny, with his doubt alleviated by guidance from teacher Chiron (Anthony Head, replacing Pierce Brosnan). Introduced to his half-brother, a Cyclops named Tyson (Douglas Smith), Percy embraces the possibility of family, though he’s unsure of the clumsy one-eyed stranger. When the magical barrier protecting the compound is shattered by former camper Luke (Jake Abel), revealing the weakness of a half-blood who sacrificed herself long ago, Percy, Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), and Tyson set out to retrieve the Golden Fleece, hoping to stop Luke’s plans to resurrect the titan god Kronos and destroy Olympus. When Grover is kidnapped by evil forces, the rest of the gang form a plan to enter the Sea of Monsters and nab the Golden Fleece, with Annabeth forced to trust Tyson and his monstrous Cyclops heritage, while Percy develops his demigod powers, connecting with his aquatic lineage.

The trouble with these Percy Jackson extravaganzas is that they’re beholden to follow a narrative course laid out by author Rick Riordan, who’s summoned a colossal world of characters and events that tinker with mythical particulars. Screenwriter Marc Guggenheim has the unfortunate task of stuffing the highlights of the book into a single movie, creating a rush of events that commence immediately, burning through a flashback that sets up the character of Thalia (Paloma Kwiatkowski), the demigod daughter of Zeus and a fallen half-blood who provides the camp with a protective force field Luke has managed to disarm. From there, “Sea of Monsters” resembles a checklist of encounters, watching Percy battle a robotic, flame-throwing bull, pay a visit to Hermes (Nathan Fillion, and yes there’s a “Firefly” joke) at his UPS Store, and work out his water-based powers, eventually concocting a surfable wave to escape the clutches of villainy. There are an enormous number of events to sort though, and the production appears eager to please fans of the novel, trying to cover as much narrative real estate as possible before the end credits hit.

There are definite positives to “Sea of Monsters,” at the top of the list being a reduction in screentime for Jackson’s Grover, with his wheezy one-liners passed over in favor of Tyson’s clumsiness. He’s not missed. Percy’s confidence is also wounded this time out, muting Lerman’s aggressive overacting, with the addition of Clarisse (Leven Rambin), demigod daughter of Ares, helping to alleviate the burden of Percy’s feeble screen heroism. Perhaps the most enchanting upgrade is Freudenthal’s attempt to arrange an Amblin Entertainment mood to the feature, watching the characters battle monsters, visit the glowing eyes of an oracle, and work out numerous escape plans, while “Harry Potter” influences arrive with the introduction of Percy’s prophetic burden and the group’s travel plans, which have them hitching a ride in a ghost taxi piloted by three Gray Sisters, who only have one single eye to share among them. I detect a drop of 007 in here as well, finding Luke a little too close to a traditional Bondian villain, only missing a cat to stroke while he threatens the good guys.

As for the title, there are only two monsters to be found in this famed sea (actually the Bermuda Triangle), with one of them a giant Kraken-type creature who digests the super friends, leaving them to rely on Clarisse’s army of zombie Confederate soldiers to help blast their way out of a gelatinous belly. No detail is left untouched by the screenplay.

If it’s weird enough to have a “Percy Jackson” sequel, the ending of “Sea of Monsters” is no ending at all, but a cliffhanger for a third installment. It’s bad form to promise more excitement to come, especially when the franchise hasn’t flexed much of a box office muscle yet. However, such optimism is acceptable, especially when stuck like a wad of gum on the tail of this noisy, busy picture. We’ll see if Percy Jackson lives to take on new enemies, but for now, the second installment is more agreeable than the first. Thank the gods for that.

Starring: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Jake Abel, Brandon T. Jackson, Nathan Fillion, Stanley Tucci
Director: Thor Freudenthal

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