It almost seems somewhat of a surprise that “Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters” has even been released (or was even put into production) as the first film in the franchise was so roughly maligned. On reflection, “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” was never as bad as a lot of critics and movie lovers made out. Sure, it was weaker than a lot of the other franchises around at the same time, but it was still a worthy watch. The same can be said for this latest installment.
This time around Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman – “Stuck In Love,” “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower”) and his two close friends Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario – “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” TV’s “True Detective”) and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson – “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Thunderstruck”) now live in the safe environment of Camp Half-Blood, where they are protected by an invisible force and by mentors including Mr. D (Stanley Tucci – “The Fifth Estate,” “Some Velvet Morning”) and Chiron (Anthony Head – “Foosball,” TV’s “Warehouse 13”). Percy’s only real sense of upheaval comes from his rivalry with Clarisse (Leven Rambin – “Isolated,” “Chasing Mavericks”) who firmly believes that she is the camp’s real champion.
But then comes the real drama when the tree causing the force-field suddenly dies and the village comes under attack. During an attack by a robotic bull, Percy learns that has all been caused by his old nemesis Luke (Jake Abel – “The Host,” “I Am Number Four”), so when Clarisse is chosen to lead a party sent out to retrieve the Golden Fleece (which can heal the tree) from the Seas of Monsters Percy, Annabeth, Grover and Percy’s newfound Cyclops half-brother, Tyson (Douglas Smith – “The Boy Who Smells Like Fish,” “Antiviral”) decide they are going as well.
In his defense, director Thor Freudenthal (“Diary Of A Wimpy Kid,” “Hotel For Dogs”) does very little with this film. Yes, the special effects are at times a little dodgy, but Freudenthal’s directional style does make this film not only watchable but entertaining. Freudenthal does handle the action sequences fairly well and he makes the strange decision of making the film that little more violent than you would normally expect in a film aimed for young adults.
Still, “Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters” has some flaws; actually many flaws. First off, the screenplay never allows for the audience to ever become emotionally attached to these characters, as a result of that when characters are kidnapped or even ‘killed,’ the audience never really worries about their safety. Much of this is caused by the fact that the screenplay never allows for any scenes of meaningful dialogue between the characters and does not really give the characters any sense of characterization either.
These flaws lead to this film being dragged down in a way that you wouldn’t expect. The new generation of film lovers have grown up with franchises like “Harry Potter” and “Twilight,” so it’s only human nature that they will compare “Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters” to those films. there is no way with these flaws that this film shapes up to any of the films in the “Harry Potter” franchise. It’s entertaining, but still weaker.
The script also never allows for anything special from the actors. Alexander Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson and Logan Lerman just seem to breeze through their roles… a surprise seeing everyone saw what a great actor Lerman is in “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower.” Meanwhile, Jake Abel is reduced to acting in a clichéd role, while good actors such as Stanley Tucci and Anthony Head just seem wasted in their small roles.
There are a few flaws with “Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters,” yet it still remains an entertaining film and one of the best picks for this school holiday period. Just don’t expect a film anywhere near as good as the ones in the “Harry Potter” franchise.