Reviewed by Ian Forbes
Sometimes I wish I’d remember certain adages that help people keep themselves out of trouble. In my case, after watching Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, I wrote a basically positive review and was looking forward to future installments. The film didn’t do so well at the box office and I figured the franchise died a quiet death. Oh well, life goes on.
And then a few months ago I was made aware that a sequel was indeed coming and I probably muttered something to the effect of “huh, whaddaya know”, filing it in the back of my mind that we’d see if this series could try to establish something truly interesting. Having now sat through Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the answer is an unequivocal No. But for a franchise so easily equatable with Harry Potter, when you trade in director Chris Columbus for the guy whose best work includes Monkey Business, Hotel for Dogs, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I suppose this isn’t a result anyone should be surprised about.
The story picks up a short time after that last movie, with our hero Percy (the half-son of the Greek God Poseidon) and his friends continuing to train at the goofy camp in the woods that’s been set up for Demi-Gods, Satyrs, Centaurs and whatever else. The magical barrier that protects them in their camp is broken and in order to fix it, a quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece must be undertaken. Blah blah blah. I’d take more effort here but I really want to just get this review over with.
After about the fifteen to twenty minute mark, this movie deteriorates into a bland, lifeless exercise of bad CGI, nonsensical plot developments, new characters that fail to enrich the ensemble, and an entire collection of actors delivering unenthusiastic performances. For a brief second here or there, the Nathan Fillion and Stanley Tucci cameos add some life to the proceedings but even their shtick outlasts its welcome. And not having read the books, I don’t know whether it’s the author or the screenwriter who’s responsible for not getting basic Greek mythology correct; this film has Kronos (lots of various spellings, don’t get huffy) vanquished into a God of War-esque Pandora’s Box awaiting reassembly and from what I can tell from some distracted Internet research, the series has him playing your basic Voldemort, coming back in some form time and time again. Ugh.
In any case, there are five books. We’ve now seen two adapted to the big screen. I can only hope it ends here but should Fox 2000 continue on, I hope they don’t split the last book into two in order to drag things out. Rather than making any improvement, Sea of Monsters is a full step back from the first movie. Unless Alfonso Cuarón is stepping into the director’s chair for the third one (a la Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban), you can definitely rate my expectations for the future of the franchise as low … very, very low.
And in case you weren’t completely sure, you can count this review as my warning to avoid the movie at all costs. At best, this is weekend afternoon basic cable TV material. You certainly don’t want to throw real money away at a theater on it. This August actually has a number of interesting movies being released, choose almost any of them first. Or if you have some sort of Logan Lerman fixation, just re-watch The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s better than either of the Percy Jackson movies in just about every single way possible.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters opens in theaters on August 7, 2013 and is rated PG for fantasy action violence, some scary images and mild language.
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