When a new evil threatens Camp Half-Blood, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) and his friends must travel through the Sea of Monsters – or Bermuda Triangle to you and me – to find the Golden Fleece. The trouble is, not only has a quest already set out from the camp, but someone else is after the fleece, and Percy has a new family member to get used to.
The first Percy Jackson film was not unlike Harry Potter; a young man discovers his true identity and struggles to get used to it, while confronting an ancient evil. Like Harry Potter, the series has moved on, Percy has grown but the threats keep coming. The good news, however, is that this second Percy Jackson film is a lot more fun than the second Harry Potter film.
Logan Lerman returns to the franchise that brought him to public attention, after the success of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Lerman does not have an awful lot to do here, other than be a leader, and he manages it well. It is unclear whether Lerman does not delineate, or whether Percy is created as a character who is the brave underdog, but either way, he feels a little generic; perhaps the screenwriter felt that enough character was established the first time around. The same goes for most of the younger cast, which is made up of Alexandra Daddario and Leven Rambin.
The adults fare a little better, however. Stanley Tucci obviously has a good time playing a small role as Dionysus – or Mr. D – and rails against a curse by Zeus that does not allow him to drink his beloved wine. Anthony Stewart Head takes over from Pierce Brosnan’s advisory character Chiron, the centaur and takes on the role of mentor, which is why we love him. Nathan Fillion plays the messenger god; Hermes, and manages to slip in a line about all the best TV shows being cancelled (hello Firefly!). A lot of the original cast from the first film has jumped ship, which is disappointing since the first one wasn’t terrible, but Sea of Monsters is a vast improvement.
The story is actually rather simple, but it is told in a fun and adventurous way. The film mixes elements from our world and the magical in order to tell the story; our world is shown to be a little more wondrous through the eyes of a demi-god and, as he discovers more, so do we. Little explanation is given of the creatures encountered along the way to the Sea of Monsters, but enough is revealed to keep the audience interested.
Script writer Marc Guggenheim has managed to blend the every day and myth to create a story that is simple, scary and engaging, although the lack of contact with the higher gods means that this film feels more closed than its predecessor, and a little more like a Harry Potter film than a film about gods living among mankind. While director Thor Freudenthal focuses more on the action than the characters, this works for the film, for the most part, when the target audience is taken into account. The film is produced by Harry Potter veteran Chris Columbus, which may explain the parallels with the Boy Who Lived,
Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters is a fun, funny and action filled adventure, with enough one-liners and references to keep the adults entertained, and enough danger, action and fun to keep the younger audience members engaged. Sadly, Sea of Monsters does presume knowledge on the audience’s part, and therefore struggles to be a stand-alone film.