Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
What It Is
Once again, Percy the demigod (Logan Lerman) is called on to save the other kids like him, as well as the world. Once again, he’s unsure of his fate and once again, he’s supported by loyal sidekicks, the satyr Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) and the half-blood Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario). What’s different this time, in the sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, is that Percy’s mother is nowhere in sight and the film begins with a flashback to the founding of Camp Half-Blood, when Annabeth and Grover were little kids.
Both of these story elements suggest the distance young Percy has already traveled from both the human world and his own childhood. Still, he has holdover concerns over his father, Poseidon, god of the sea, who remains unseen and mostly unhelpful, concerns at least partly embodied by Percy’s previously unknown half-brother, Tyson (Douglas Smith), who shows up at camp eager to prove his worth and buddy up with his older brother. It doesn’t help that Tyson is clumsy, immature, and oh yes, a Cyclops, which makes him look different from the other demi-gods, who band together in high-schoolish cliques to boost their own self-confidence by making fun of outsiders.
You’d think this is a lesson Percy — and the other half-bloods — would have learned already, but he’s slow to warm up to Tyson, as is Annabeth (daughter of Athena, goddess of wisdom) and also Percy’s primary rival at the camp, the vigorously competitive Clarisse (Leven Rambin), daughter of Ares, the god of war. When they are charged with defending the camp against violence by Percy’s old enemy, Luke (Jake Abel), they do so separately, with Percy and Clarisse each heading off with separate teams to find the all-healing-all-the-time Golden Fleece in the dreaded Sea of Monsters (the area known to humans as the Bermuda Triangle).
The quests converge, of course, in climactic, big-showdown fashion, but only after a few bumps in the road for Percy and company. In these episodes the film offers the same sort of weird discontinuity that characterized the first film, such that one adventure doesn’t much affect the next, and the myths acted out in each are refitted for an age of cell phones and the internet. Thus, they meet the three Gray Sisters (in classic Greek mythology known as the Graeae), who here drive a taxi wildly as they share their single eyeball), as well as Luke’s charmingly conceited father Hermes (the ever-energizing Nathan Fillion), discovered managing a UPS store, and the big bully Cyclops Polyphemus (Robert Maillet). Each turn in the plot helps the friends to bond more closely, as they also sort out how a fate might be rewritten or even challenged if necessary.
Such challenges help the teenaged demigods, especially Percy, to see themselves as individuals rather than only sons and daughters of powerful beings, and as such, able to make their own choices and recognize moral stakes. As much as Luke encourages Percy to join him in rebellion against absentee dads, Percy finds another sort of family in the group at Camp Half-Blood. Even as he and his friends are afforded occasional guidance by imperfect father figures — Chiron (Anthony Head) is less than honest with his charges and Mr. D (Stanley Tucci) is rather terminally irascible — they are more often than not, on their own. They take their worries and responsibilities seriously, which the movie effectively counters with a bright, sometimes silly tone.
Why It’s Fun
As before, the kids at the center of the film are great fun: Percy, Annabeth, and Gordy are convincingly insecure and courageous, sometimes goofy and other times deluded.
Their sweet performances help to distract from the ridiculous special effects, which are about as cheesy as they can be, as well as from the disjointed plotting, as none of the episodes seems to have much to do with any of the others. Still, the action is rambunctious and the players are lively.
Who’s Going To Love It
Again, fans of Ricky Riordan’s source books, may feel mixed reactions, as it may be thrilling to see the stories brought to the big screen, but also disappointing to see them less than fully realized.
What To Be Aware Of
The violence includes kids being tossed about, against walls and into crevices as they battle monsters. These include a mechanical fire-breathing bull, a giant Cyclops, and the resurrected god (and original Bad Dad), Kronos (Robert Knepper, unrecognizably digitized), renowned for eating his own children — except for the three sons who escaped, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. This makes Kronos especially mean and determined when he sees and attacks Percy, his upstart grandson.
Some sad scenes occur, when the half-bloods believe that someone has been killed.
The showdown takes place at a frightening place called Circeland, named for the witch Circe. It’s been shot at an abandoned amusement park, namely, the East New Orleans Six Flags Amusement Park, still not rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina. The place is aptly empty, broken, and a little scary.
Language is mild and, in one case, obscured, when one character exclaims, “B... ” and the sound of the word is drowned by sound effects. Other words included “screwed,” “damn it,” and “frickin’.”
7 out of 10
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Director: Thor Freudenthal
Cast: Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Douglas Smith, Leven Rambin, Nathan Fillion
Studio: 20th Century Fox
US General Release: August 7, 2013
UK General Release: August 7, 2013