If ever a summer movie sequel arrived without the fanfare you’d expect, it would be Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. While the first installment seemed to disappear from theaters rather quickly, I remember liking it.
Director Chris Columbus kept the first one light and breezy, with just enough menace and action while not being too much for the little ones to handle. Columbus is generally a better writer than director, considering he wrote such classics as The Goonies, Gremlins, and Young Sherlock Holmes. He was never a great director — he did give us the first two, and most boring, installments of the Harry Potter series — but he brought way more to the table than director Thor Freudenthal does with Sea of Monsters.
In Sea of Monsters, we meet up with a quartet of half-blood demigods running from an unseen creature through the woods. A young girl named Thalia (Katelyn Mager) saves the day for the other three — including Annabeth (Alisha Newton) — but Thalia is given a chance to save all of Camp Half-Blood by becoming a big tree that works as a force field. In the present, we meet up with the son of Poseidon, Percy (Logan Lerman), along with his best friends — satyr Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) and the grown-up Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), daughter of Athena — while he butts heads with pseudo-bully Clarrise (Leven Rambin).
After Percy learns he has a half-brother Cyclops named Tyson (Douglas Smith), a mechanical fire-spewing bull breaks through the camp’s barrier thanks to Luke (Jake Abel), son of Hermes (Nathan Fillion), who apparently didn’t really die in The Lightning Thief. Luke has managed to make it possible for Thalia to begin dying and Annabeth figures out that they need to find the Golden Fleece to save both Thalia and the whole camp. After Dionysus (Stanley Tucci) sends Clarisse to find the fleece, Percy, Annabeth, and Grover, set off to find it themselves. With the help of Graeae (played by Missi Pyle, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Mary Birdsong), and Hermes himself, the trio try to find the fleece, rescue Clarrise and her band of Confederate soldier zombies, and fend off the possible resurrection of Kronos.
With a name like Thor Freudenthal, you’d think he’d serve as more than just a gun for hire, but seeing how his last two movies were Hotel for Dogs and the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid, he’s a very odd choice for a big special effects heavy teeny-bopper action flick. Thor does keep the film skipping along from one sequence to the next, but this time, writer Marc Guggenheim winds up providing more unintentional laughs than he probably intended. The finale alone is hilariously lame, serving as the worst Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-off probably ever. Considering earlier in the film, Fillion gets away with a hilarious jab about the canceling of Firefly, they should’ve gone full throttle with the whole Indiana Jones riff — the same could be said of the whole film. All Sea of Monsters has is lots of PG-rated action meaning no one ever really gets hurt no matter how severe the situation. But that’s probably what Fox 2000 Pictures is hoping happens to them too since they’re releasing this in August.
I have a feeling that Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters will be just another blip on audiences radars with summer suddenly overcrowded with family-friendly options seeing how Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, Turbo, Grown Ups 2, and The Smurfs 2 are all still playing. Considering Sea of Monsters, is at least better than those last two, maybe it’ll do okay in the long run, but don’t be surprised if the next sequel never happens. But who knows, considering no one probably expected this one to get made, maybe the movie gods are watching over their own franchise. But if they were, Sea of Monsters would have at least lived up to The Lightning Thief.
Photos courtesy Twentieth Century Fox