Just in time for the holidays and any tween or teen gift-giving ideas comes the Blu-ray (+DVD and DigitalHD) of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. The film is a sequel to 2010’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Akin to the Harry Potter series, the Percy Jackson books by author Rick Riordan follow a trio of intrepid teenagers who have special powers — they are the sons and daughters of the Greek Gods, or “half-bloods.”
In the first film Percy (Logan Lerman) discovered that he was the son of Poseidon, god of the sea. This gives him some pretty nifty advantages — being able to stay under water for a really long time, having an ability to communicate with horses, and even being able to control water — a lot of water, if necessary. He also gained a nifty friend and protector of sorts, named Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), who happens to be a satyr. Grover brought him to Camp Half-Blood, which is a training ground for young demigods like Percy, where he met and befriended daughter of Athena, Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario).
In Sea of Monsters Camp Half-Blood’s safety is threatened by the trio’s old nemesis Luke, a disgruntled son of Hermes who has decided to cast his lot with the Titan Cronus and overthrow the Greek gods. If this background sounds like a lot to take in, never fear. It is not really necessary to have read the books or seen the previous film to enjoy Sea of Monsters. The film does move quickly, but anyone with even a smattering of Greek mythology can enjoy the CGI renderings of a dangerous mechanical bull, a beautiful hippocampus (part horse, part fish) and a modern-day quest to recover the Golden Fleece, which happens to be held in the Sea of Monsters, which, amusingly, is smack-dab in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle along with the monsters Scylla and Charybdis.
The three young leads have a great rapport, and are helped this time out by some new and familiar faces. Leven Rambin joins the cast as Clarisse, a daughter of Ares, and Percy’s main competitor at camp. Another new face is Douglas Smith as Tyson, Percy’s newly-discovered half-brother, who also happens to be a Cyclops. Smith is quite touching and funny, and sure to become a fan favorite. Two of the disk’s extras center on his character, a “Tyson Motion Comic,” which shows how Tyson came to Camp Half-blood, and “It’s All in the Eye,” a behind-the-scenes look at how make-up and CGI helped create his character’s one-eyed look.
The Blu-ray is in widescreen (2.40:1) format and looks great on a large-scale, high-definition television screen. Colors and shadows are sharp. The sound quality is also good, with subtitles available in English (DTS-HD-MA), French (5.1 DTS), and Spanish (5.1 DD), as well as closed captioning. The film has a running time of 107 minutes.
Some of the best set pieces, which combine teen angst with mythological creatures, include Percy’s visit with the Oracle to discover his quest, a watery ride on a hippocampus, and a fun visit to Hermes (Nathan Fillion), who runs an Olympian message and package deliver service that may seem familiar to regular non-demigod folks. Fillion even manages to get in a joke that references his canceled cult series Firefly.
Hermes hands Percy a thermos which contains the four winds, a gift that is sure to come in handy on their quest, “Here, you’ll need this.”
Percy reads the label on the thermos, confused, “What’s this? ‘Hercules Beat ‘Em?’”
Hermes, “Yeah, it’s based on a TV show. Pretty much the greatest TV show of all time. So of course they cancelled it after one season.”
Other familiar faces that round out the cast include Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games, Big Night) as Dionysus, who as a punishment from Zeus has been made the head of Camp Half-Blood; Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Merlin) as Chiron, Percy’s wise and kind centaur mentor (played by Pierce Brosnan in the first film); and as a trio of witches called the Graeae, who share one eye and drive a New York City cab — Missi Pyle (Galaxy Quest , Bringing Down the House), Yvette Nicole Brown, and Mary Birdsong.
Annabeth, “It’s a Chariot of Damnation.”
Grover, “Looks like a New York City cab.”
Annabeth, “Same difference.”
Apart from its teen appeal, what really makes this second installment in the Percy Jackson series so enjoyable is its sense of humor. Combined with all of the monsters, bravery, and mayhem, the film is fun and moves quickly. 20th Century Fox is rumored to have a third film in the works, to be set for a 2015 release, based on the third book in the series, The Titan’s Curse. It is not yet confirmed whether Sea Of Monsters director Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Hotel for Dogs) will also helm the project, but Sea of Monsters did well at the box-office, grossing more than $200 million worldwide, so it looks like fans can get set to enjoy more danger and adventure to befall Percy and his friends in the future.