Flicks And The City’s Amon Warmann reviews fantasy sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (PG), out in UK cinemas on 7 August…
Whilst teen franchises such as The Hunger Games and Twilight have only a year’s intermission between instalments, fans of Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief – which made $226 million worldwide – have been patiently waiting for three. Directed by Thor Freudenthal, the next cinematic chapter of Rick Riordan’s popular book series gets its UK release this week. Despite the film’s problems, there are enough fun moments to ensure it will satisfy its target audience.
This time round, son of Poseidon and demigod Percy (Logan Lerman) and his compatriots Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and satyr/protector Grover Underwood (Brandon T. Jackson) embark on a quest when Camp Half-Blood – the ancient training ground for demigods – is threatened by outside forces. The only way to save their adopted home is by retrieving the mythical Golden Fleece, which happens to be located in the Sea of Monsters.
Visually, Sea of Monsters is a step-up from its predecessor. An early battle with a CGI mechanical bull is well executed, and the manner in which Percy’s powers are depicted is at times imaginative, augmented by some showy 3D. However, this can’t disguise Marc Guggenheim’s weak screenplay.
There are some good ideas, but they are poorly executed. The arrival of Percy’s half-brother cyclops Tyson (Douglas Smith), for instance, creates many interesting story possibilities. However, the character is relegated to providing comic relief for most of the proceedings, with much of the humour falling flat. As we’re never made to care for the character, important moments that transpire later in the film lack weight.
Much like its predecessor, Sea of Monsters benefits from its experienced actors. Stanley Tucci always looks like he’s having fun when he’s on screen as the god of wine Dionysus, and Nathan Fillion dominates his scene as Hermes in what is easily the best scene in the film.
Whilst Guggenheim’s script doesn’t do them any favours, the younger actors struggle to carry the film. Most disappointing is Jake Abel as the film’s main antagonist, who never manages to feel threatening in a very one-note performance.
Any last words? There may just be enough adventure and fun sequences to satisfy fans of the franchise, but with its lazy storytelling and ineffective lead performances, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters never fulfils its potential.