8/15/2013 - The half-human, half-god son of Poseidon battles a fellow demi-god to prevent the end of the world in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, a sequel that I’m pretty sure none of us wanted to a movie nobody particularly liked.
Percy (Logan Lerman) is still hanging out at Camp Hogwarts, I mean Camp Half-Blood, with other children of gods, training to fight with spears and arrows and participating in seemingly pointless climbing competitions. Along with buddies — many of whom are some kind of cousins, I think — like the part goat Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) and Athena’s daughter Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), Percy seems to be just killing time until a giant magical robot bull breaks through the protective force surrounding the camp. (This force field has its own boring backstory — suffice to say, force fields are down and in danger of staying that way.) Along with Tyson (Douglas Smith), a fellow son of Poseidon who is also a Cyclops, Percy and his buddies have to go on a quest to find the Golden Fleece and stop Luke (Jake Abel), son of Hermes (Nathan Fillion), from resurrecting Kronos and bringing about the end of the world.
There’s more to it, but that’s the gist and some of that plot actually doesn’t make a lot of sense when you step back from it so why unravel further? Sea of Monsters actually has a lot of plot, a lot of plot that requires a lot of exposition. With all the talking about what the movie’s about, things like action and character development and moderately interesting dialogue seem to take a back seat. As with the first Percy Jackson movie, Sea of Monsters feels a lot like a discount Harry Potter — in this case, a discount version of one of the more filler-ish entries in the Harry Potter saga.
The movie seems unsure about who Percy Jackson is: is he a shining-star chosen one, like Harry? Is he a seeming screw-up who shows his worth in a crisis? Is he a reluctant hero? The movie seems to have him try on all three — without ever making any character traits feel organic to an actual person. The series has a built in mythology cornerstone that should make for interesting storytelling: All of these teenagers are the children of gods who have given their offspring significant powers but no parental attention. This story element seems like it could offer interesting plot possibilities — as well as give some much-needed emotional heft to these very faintly drawn characters — but the movie uses this detail only to explain the sullenness of the villain and not for much else. (Perhaps because Sean Bean, Steve Coogan and Kevin McKidd — who played gods Zeus, Hades and Poseidon, respectively, in the last movie — weren’t available for another go-around.)
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters feels lifeless and unfinished, like an idea for a movie that nobody got around to fleshing out. C-
Rated PG for fantasy action violence, some scary images and mild language. Directed by Thor Freudenthal with a screenplay by Marc Guggenheim (based on the book by Rick Riordan), Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is an hour and 46 minutes long