Jacob Latimore, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett star in director Kasi Lemmons' seasonal drama.
On Film4: 17 Dec 11:00AM
Teenage demigod Percy Jackson and friends must find the magical, mythical Golden Fleece before their friend-turned-enemy Luke gets his hands on it and brings about the end of the Olympians. Sequel to Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief, based on the best-selling novels by Rick Riordan.
Poor Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is feeling a bit sorry for himself following the victorious conclusion to The Lightning Thief. Even though he managed to save both his mum and the world at the end of the last film, his dad, Poseidon, is now ignoring him and he’s really not excelling in his hero training. Just as he’s beginning to wonder whether he even belongs at Camp Half-Blood – the secret school for half human, half god teens – he makes two life changing discoveries: first that he has a Cyclops half-brother called Tyson (Douglas Smith), and second that his name is linked to an ancient prophecy foretelling the survival or destruction of Olympus, home of the gods. Cue an epic adventure in which Percy and his friends must find the legendary Golden Fleece before his ex-friend, now arch enemy, Luke gets his hands on it and summons Kronos, head of the Titans and bringer of chaos.
The basic premise of the Percy Jackson series - that Greek gods and their minions still walk amongst us - is undeniably attractive, and both this film and its predecessor are at their best when depicting creatures of myth of legend in modern-day settings. Sadly, we don’t get to see quite so much of this this time around, bar a smart sequence in which it’s revealed that Hermes (Nathan Fillion), the messenger of the gods, is now a UPS executive. Still, one thing you can be pretty sure you’ll get from a film called Sea Of Monsters is lots of big, scary beasties to gawp at. Well, we do get a few, and they do look pretty monstrous, especially the volcanic Kronos when he finally emerges. The problem is that every monster and, in fact, every obstacle Percy and his friends encounter is far too easily overcome, to the extent that you never really feel there’s anything much at stake here.
Another big problem is that Percy is one of the least compelling characters in the story. This is no fault of Logan Lerman, who does his best with the role, but Percy has a tendency to be a rather passive hero, letting his friends claim most of the glory. A noble trait, perhaps, but a bit on the wet side. Percy is, thankfully, surrounded by stronger secondary characters; Douglas Smith puts in an endearing turn as the clumsy, Cycloptic Tyson, Stanley Tucci returns as the snarky teacher-cum-god of wine Dionysus, and Jake Abel is highly watchable as the misguided Luke, a charismatic young villain whose daddy issues have caused him to turn to the dark side.
A selection of snazzy half ancient, half high-tech gadgets and a few terse one-liners, mostly delivered by Luke, help to sustain interest when the pace flags, but overall this film isn’t anywhere near as thrilling as it should be for an action-fantasy of this scale.
The tween and teen target audience will no doubt lap Sea Of Monsters up, but adults will be disappointed by its feeble protagonist and uninvolving plot. The monsters do look pretty awesome though, even if they don’t all get the screen time they deserve.
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