Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
AKA Harry Potter and the Serviceable Romp for Pre-teens
The last decade has seen dozens of aspiring knock-offs of Harry Potter hitting the screens (The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant), all promising expanded universes unlikely to ever be realized in franchise form. Chris Columbus’ 2010 Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, which attempted to ground its teen adventure in mythological lore, has at least made it to second base with this sequel, but there’s no sign of any gain in momentum from the uninspiring original.
Taken from another Rick Riordan novel, Sea of Monsters opens with a prologue explaining the creation of the barrier that protect Camp Half Blood from the dangers of the outside world. When a mechanical bull bursts through the boundaries, causing chaos at the camp, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) takes responsibility for venturing in search of the Golden Fleece which might repair the damage, a voyage that leads him to the Bermuda Triangle and the titular sea of monsters.
Director Thor Freudenthal has clearly got a budget to spend, and this sequel boasts several big effects sequences, including a fights atop a luxury yacht, deep inside a gigantic sea-creature, and a final battle with a Cyclops below and the inside an abandoned amusement park. Unfortunately the quality of the cast has been significantly downgraded, with no Steve Coogan, Uma Thurman or Pierce Brosnan, and only a B-Team of Stanley Tucci and Anthony Head phoning in sideline encouragement. Only Nathan Fillion hits the spot as Hermes, now recast as a UPS manager, and delivering the only neat in-joke as he muses on why the best televison series always get cancelled; as a veteran of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, Fillion should know.
Percy Jackson; Sea of Monsters is a serviceable romp for pre-teens, but ultimately suffers from the franchise’s lack of cultural penetration. Elaborate backstories have more meaning when the characters are known and loved; Percy Jackson’s endless exposition only demonstrates why he’s nobody’s favourite boy-wizard.
General release from Wed 7 Aug.