Movie Review: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

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Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, hasn’t had a big heroic moment since he saved the world in the first film, but when the tree that protects his and the other half bloods’ home is attacked he’s prophecised to find the golden fleece and save their skins.

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Thor Freudenthal

That wasn’t confusing, was it? Let me muddy it up for you. Luke (Jake Abel), bad guy son of Hermes (who, by the way, is Nathan Fillion in this film, and gets a moment to lament the loss of Firefly), is continuing his reign of terror from the first film by attacking the tree, which Zeus created out of his daughter Tahlia when she was killed by a cyclops. I’m actually not sure why he had to do that in order to raise the titan Cronus, as all it really does is raise the ire of the good guys and give him a chance to show off his steampunk mechanical bull, but whatever. Meanwhile, Percy’s (Logan Lerman) half-brother Tyson, also a cyclops, shows up to teach the kids a lesson about racism using the acceptable racism against a white guy trope. Percy discovers his destiny, so he and his buddy Grover (no, really) (Brandon T. Jackson) the satyr and his girlfriend Annabeth-daughter-of-Athena go to the Sea of Monsters, AKA the Bermuda Triangle, to find the fleece and save their home. They get to meet a couple of mythological beings, like the Graeae with their one eye as magical taxi drivers and some zombie confederate soldiers, on their way to get the golden fleece. There’s a subplot where a girl repeatedly kicks Percy’s ass until he saves her life and another one about how Tyson JUST WANTS A BROTHER, MAN, and is the sweetest person ever despite being a half-giant cyclops, which are all supposed to be evil. Also, Stanley Tucci plays Dionysus and Tony Head plays a centaur.

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I could happily watch a movie set in this universe about the adults, but we get one about the much more boring kids. They speak almost entirely in cliches and platitudes, and fit the archetypes of the kids in most Harry Potter rip-offs, although the Hermione gets to be racist. Against the cyclops, of course, not an actual minority. The movie starts off pretty tense, with a scene depicting a young girl dying for her friends, but it quickly loses steam once the many, many subplots get going. People keep saying Percy feels betrayed by Poseidon, but since Poseidon doesn’t actually make an appearance in the movie it’s a bit of tell-don’t-show. The real crime, though, is that there are some neat ideas that are quickly pushed aside for the boring, predictable plot. You know what’s coming a mile away, and while there are some episodic moments – kill this creature, escape from that one – that are occasionally interesting, they don’t really connect in a cohesive whole. The kids have charisma, but it isn’t taken advantage of.

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One of the best characters in the movie. No, not the kid.

There are some gorgeous and fascinating special effects (Cronus, a hippocampus, the steampunk bull) and some godawful ones (Percy and Luke surfing on a wave), and some plotholes of epic proportions, but it all still holds up better than, say, The Mortal Instruments, as a Harry Potter ripoff. They do some fun things with the modern mythology thing, it would just be a lot more fun if the film were more interested in those ideas and less interested in the incredibly dull Chosen One plot. It isn’t written well enough to carry. It’s always a bad sign when I’m finishing lines before the characters do, and there’s a fundamental laziness and lack of creativity to the writing – “that was a not cruel and vicious thing to do”, for instance, or “having a prophecy is a lot like finding out you have a cyclops half-brother”. (No, really.) Some of the kids in the audience seemed to have a good time, but it’s pretty forgettable stuff.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters on IMDb

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