There is really only like two monsters in the Sea of Monsters, which I guess does fulfill the plural form of Monsters, but I was hoping for like… a sea of them. You know? Anyways that is the sort of unfulfilled expectations that you will get with this sequel to the 2010 Chris Columbus directed Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters tries to continue idolizing the Harry Potter franchise, but will most likely end up being lost in the history books like the Titans who took on the Gods of old.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters centers on the quest for The Golden Fleece, a mythical fleece that has the powers to heal those who are ailing. The quest is sparked by the failing, protection barrier that surrounds Camp Half Blood from the outside world that wishes to harm the Demigods inside. After someone poisons the tree that produces the barrier, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and Percy’s newfound half-brother, stoner, Tyson (Douglas Smith) set out to retrieve the Fleece from within the area known as The Sea of Monsters.
Percy Jackson has the incredible potential to be the next teen adventure franchise. Everyone aspires to be like Harry Potter and hell, any studio worth their salt would want to have another franchise like that in their pockets, but Percy Jackson suffers from the same pitfalls that most sequels tend to have. They take it to a different direction, they overload the movie with characters, shit has to get grittier, and frankly the inflated budget begins to take over instead of a solid script and cast. Sea of Monsters has all of those pitfalls that drag a rich, mythological story into the underworld of bloated everything.
Director Thor Freudenthal, who let’s be honest could be directing the next Thor movie with that name, is given a much larger coin purse to play with and certainly seems to be style over substance with this sequel. All of the characters save for Percy, feel dull and flat. Nothing hits with his companions as they still seem like they are stuck in a relief painting, just there to quip a one-liner that isn’t humorous or even adding substance to the movie as they did in the first installment of the series. The villain in this movie isn’t imposing or even remotely interesting since they are basically rehashing the same motivations from the first flick. Finally the movie is just bogged down with so much ancillary characters that even they don’t really add anything to the story other than a mythological reference to keep with the theme of the series.
Logan Lerman does his best though, as the Demigod of Poseidon, which if you forgot about that from the first movie, you will be reminded about a dozen times, but only because it continuously reinforces a “plot point” that you will surely forget about. Lerman is a very capable actor that can be incredible given the right direction and not just, “swing this make believe sword here” or “pretend to surf on a wave cause of your powers”. Here he is just given a lackluster script and really no strong characters to play off of, even with Grover and Annabeth. The inclusion of Tyson is yawn-inducing because you don’t ultimately care about him and his stoner dreads. Also why they made or even bothered to include the Cyclops character of Tyson in this flick is beyond my understanding as he is just more of a ploy to generate laughs that aren’t funny.
Coming off the first movie, the secondary characters and appearances of big name actors is still there, although no more Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan, or Steve Coogan, but rather stars Stanley Tucci, Missi Pyle, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ron Pearlman, and Nathan Fillion who has the best line in the entire movie with his quip about the cancellation of his show Firefly. Sigh, makes me wish I should have watched Firefly instead. Again all these secondary characters and actors turn this movie into one mythological Big Fat Greek Wedding.
The movie itself feels like a constant parade of set pieces to show off the newfound coin that the director has to play with, as the pacing of the movie is rapid fire to the point that each scene feels disjointed than the next. There is so much thrown at the audience that those unfamiliar with the book will think it’s all Greek to them and there isn’t a string in the fleece they are searching that holds it all together. Certainly the visuals are much better than the cheap looking CGI of the first movie, but the visuals lose steam over the course of the movie as the action doesn’t match mythic proportions of the budget. The standout scene is with the mechanical bull that tramples through the camp and the one sea monster scene was interesting, but inconsequential.
Sometimes, myths are just myths. Percy Jackson has to climb the Mount Olympus that is the Harry Potter franchise to even become a standout, but it sadly becomes a story of hubris as it takes the approach that too many sequels have done before it. They overload the movie with a lot of what they think people want, but the story is lackluster, the pacing is just too quick, and the effects dwarf the movie. Pre-Teens, fans of the book and those looking for something to watch for a visual ride will enjoy the movie, but those looking for a rich, mythological movie will be better off reading The Odyssey again. There a few standout moments with some actors, set pieces and action, but it is something that even the Golden Fleece can cure.
Rating: 2 Greek Salads out of 5
By Nick Guzman