Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Movie Review
There can't have been a very big demand for a sequel to 2010's The Lightning Thief, but at least this is another adequate adventure for the teen demigods. Much more child-friendly than the first movie, this episode is essentially just a series of heavily animated action set-pieces strung together by the flimsiest of plots. At least it has a sense of energy and some jagged humour to keep grown-ups engaged.
At Half-blood Camp, the refuge for the children of gods with mortals, Percy (Lerman) continues his rivalry with hot-shot Clarisse (Rambin). And when the protective barrier around the camp is poisoned, it's Clarisse who leads a mission to find the healing Golden Fleece in the Sea of Monsters. But Percy knows that he's the subject of a prophecy about the fleece being used to resurrect the destructive Chronos, and that his nemesis Luke (Abel) is up to something evil. So Percy takes his friends Grover and Annabeth (Jackson and Daddario), plus his newly discovered cyclops half-brother Tyson (Smith), and heads off on his own quest.
Despite a few close calls in which characters come close to death, we're pretty sure nothing nasty will happen to these young franchise characters. But director Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) never hangs around long enough for us to realise that there isn't actually any suspense or intrigue in the plot. The film's pace is frantic, as the characters bolt from one crazy scenario to the next, often without bothering to logically connect the two. Several scenes could be cut without changing the story, while others are pure indulgence, such as Fillion's extended cameo as Luke's parcel-delivering father Hermes.
Thankfully several set-pieces are a lot of fun, including a manic taxi ride with three comically blind drivers and a hide-and-seek with a meaner, bigger cyclops. These nutty scenes help make up for the relative blandness of the lead characters, who at least are well-played by likeable and gifted young actors who deserve better roles than this. But as the story progresses, scenes are increasingly swamped with only so-so digital effects, which effectively turns the film into a cartoon. It's still fairly enjoyable, but let's hope the script for a probable third adventure pays more attention to things like plot and characters.