Thor Freudenthal (Hotel for Dogs, Diary of a Wimpy Kid) takes over for Chris Columbus in this sequel to the Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief that has been three years in the making — as I have been constantly reminded of by my daughter, who adores any and all books by Rick Riordan. Now three years is a pretty substantial gap between installments of a franchise aimed towards young adults. As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised if a good chunk of the readership has moved on already and this second movie won’t end up surpassing the $247 global take of the first film. Yet that’s a shame because either this sequel actually entertains (in a splashy, special-effects sort of way) quite a bit more than its predecessor, or I’m more forgiving at this point in life.
Perhaps another reason that this sequel is more fun than the last movie is that, this time around, the tale dispenses with all of the exposition that bogged down the first movie and just jumps straight into the action since viewers are already familiar with the main characters’ position as demigods who are the spawn of (largely) one-night stands between Greek gods and humans. Thus, the fun stuff commences rather quickly once the story’s main villain — Luke, son of Hermes — takes his daddy issues out on the world by sending in a nasty, murderous beast through the (normally) impenetrable barriers surrounding Camp Half-Blood. Yep, Luke the Lightning Thief is back and aims to recruit a band of detractors from this group of demigods, and Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), son of Poseidon (god of the sea), is his main choice for a partner.
These days, however, Percy is feeling rather inadequate and not-so-secretly wonders if he previously saved Olympus by chance as a one-“quest” wonder. Of course, that trip wasn’t really a quest (as I mentioned in my review of the first movie) because there was no measurable character growth, no lessons were learned, and any “wins” were the result of sheer luck and/or help from the gods. That same pattern fits the second movie as well, and (of course) Percy and his pals — Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), daughter of Athena; and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), a Satyr — prevail in the end, but their victories are shallow and merely the result of repeated instances of sheer luck, inherited weaponry, and (yeah, I’m saying it) nepotism.
To complicate matters, Percy quickly meets his newfound brother, Tyson (Douglas Smith), who is cursed with existence as a Cyclops after Poseidon apparently got freaky with a sea nymph. Percy also learns that he is the likely subject of a prophecy that indicates he is the One who can rescue the fabled Golden Fleece before it gets used for evil … as in the resurrection of Kronos. The search for the Golden Fleece takes Percy and pals to the Bermuda Triangle, which is portrayed as the movie’s Sea of Monsters. Truth be told and due to time constraints, the screenwriters have substantially abridged the second book to the series, so there’s really only one monster in this sea, but it’s a doozy.
Ultimately, this sequel is a lot of fun in a mindless, Transformers-esque, popcorn-crunching sort of way. As in the first movie, there are enough recognizable faces to keep non-readers amused, so for adults who haven’t read the books, the sequel delivers a hilarious Stanley Tucci (as a chronically frustrated Dionysus, who is charged with running Camp Half-Blood and whose wine keeps turning to water, thanks to a grudge-holding Zeus) and about five minutes of Nathan Fillion as a suit-wearing Hermes who cracks a few wink-winks at the audience, including a joke about how all the best television shows get cancelled. Pierce Brosnan does not return as the centaur who runs the place, but that’s all good and well because most of the action takes place outside the demigods’ home base. Sea of Monsters is a ridiculous, CGI-filled monstrosity that features things as ridiculous as a treacherous mechanical bull and an old warship manned by zombified Confederate soldiers from the Civil War that “live” to serve
Aries Ares. Still, it’s a hell of a good time to watch and not nearly as mind-numbing as most spectacles geared towards the young-adult audience.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.