Mania Review: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters -

Mania Review

Mania Grade: C

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  • Starring: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Douglas Smith, Leven Rambin, Brandon T. Jackson, Jake Abel, Anthony Head and Stanley Tucci
  • Written by: Marc Guggenheim
  • Directed by: Thor Freudenthal
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Rating: PG
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Series:

Mania Review: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Here there be- zzzzzzzzz....

By Rob Vaux     August 09, 2013

 We’re definitely running the gamut this weekend. Having witnessed one of the best films of the year and one of the worst, all that’s left is the soft, mushy middle. Enter Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, a forgettable sequel to a decent original that registers as one giant collective shrug. None of it’s particularly unpleasant, it just smacks of zero effort: a cast and crew perpetuating the franchise solely because some number-cruncher decided it was worth the investment. Get pumped people!

It makes me particularly sad because I love this premise, which has the potential to do great things. The entire blockbuster school of filmmaking owes its debts to the Greeks, with their tales of mythic heroes and awestruck wonders. So why not go back to the source? The original book series showed us modern demigods – children with one immortal parent and one human parent – battle monsters and go on quests here in the 21st century world. The first Percy Jackson movie did cool things with that notion… though I must confess I had to look at it again to remember the details. Those waters of Lethe bode ill for the sequel, which attempts the same trick with only a fraction of the inspiration.

This time, the goal is the Golden Fleece, which has the power to bring the dead back to life. Percy (Logan Lerman) and his friends need it to resurrect the guardian of their hidden school, which protects them from various forms of mythic beast. It lies amid the Sea of Monsters, which shouldn’t scare Percy too much since his dad, Poseidon, grants him control over water. But his wicked rival Luke (Jake Abel) also wants the Fleece, prompting a desperate race against time to reach it first.

The ho-hums start almost before the backstory finishes, involving a lot of CGI monsters that excel in design but collapse as drama. (You will never see a more awkward use of Meta the Nathan Fillion’s unfortunate Firefly riff here.) We need to get back up to speed too quickly, which becomes doubly difficult since certain key actors (Pierce Brosnan) have been awkwardly replaced with new performers and others (Sean Bean) are complete no-shows. Part of the problem also lies in the fact that Percy and his friends have too many cards in their corner. Nothing seems to challenge them unduly and director Thor Freudenthal lacks the narrative oomph to make us feel the threats. Without any real danger, we soon devolve into fill-in-the-blank territory, a blow from which the film never recovers.

The early scenes start out passably, with Stanley Tucci stealing the show as an earth-bound Dionysus dressed in a Jimmy Buffet Hawaiian shirt. He echoes the first film’s clever tweaking of mythic tropes, as do the three Grey Sisters, spotted here driving a cab. Soon enough, however, that mixed bag falls completely apart. You can literally spot the moment where Sea of Monsters gives up on itself, with a sequence that – following the film’s own logic – should have ended in the villain’s expedient demise. Instead, we just pick up the next scene as if nothing happened, draining the last of the dramatic tension and leaving some third-rate money shots in its wake. A few flashes of better things arise – the sea monster Charybdis is well-executed and cleverly presented – but they can’t stand up against the avalanche of mediocrity surrounding them.

Indeed, the fact that so little of the first film lingers in the mind is quite telling. That entry had so much more going for it, but even then it struggled to leave a lasting impression. All this one can muster is tired over-plotting, complete with a cliffhanger that will likely never see a resolution given the dismal box office prospects. It didn’t have to be that way, a fact that makes Sea of Monsters all the more regrettable. You could have fought better little movie. More than that, you really, really should have. 


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almostunbiased 8/9/2013 11:39:22 PM

My kids and I saw it.  My son said it was a lot closer in many ways until the end to the books that the first one.  We all thought it was fun.  I didn't love it, but I didn't dislike it.

blankczech 8/10/2013 7:32:17 AM

 Don't know much about this.  Several friends rave to me about the books claiming they fill the void created when Rowling's Harry Potter story concluded.  These same people express some disappointment with the movies, which they feel are not good representations of the books.  Other Christian friends won't allow their adolescent children to read the books or see the movies because of the polytheistic / pagan religious elements.  

Chopsaki 8/10/2013 11:55:28 AM

 That's too bad I enjoyed the first one will probably wait for this on dvd. That being said how great is the name Thor Freudenthal, sounds like a norse psychologist.

karas1 8/10/2013 5:30:04 PM

People who refuse to allow their children to be exposed to new ideas are doing both the kids and themselves a great disservice.  When, inevitably, the children DO encounter new ideas they will either embrace them wholeheartedly and without much thought as a form of rebellion or completely colapse in confusion. 

Good parents should expose their children to new ideas and encourage them to think about them and learn to judge them.  Good citizens need well tuned BS detectors.

Kaziklu 8/11/2013 5:49:16 PM

 ya this will maybe be a rental. I love the books, The First movie is all but unwatchable for me since reading the books. 


CaptAmerica04 8/11/2013 6:09:02 PM

My daughter loves the books, and I've enjoyed reading them to her.  The first film was decent, though it only hit the highlights of a very short book  (this isn't even Harry Potter in complexity, oh ye Producers on high!  Don't act like it is).  I'm sad to hear that the sequel doesn't even rate that high.  I knew I should be concerned when people like Pierce Brosnan were replaced.

I think that part of the problem is Logan Lerman - the kid can't act his way out of a wet paper bag.  He's just... dull.  Flat.  Uninteresting and uncompelling.  He puts ZERO emotion or conviction in ANYTHING that he does.  If they want to keep the franchise going, but replace actors, they needed to start by replacing him.

mlaforce 8/12/2013 4:24:13 PM

Does not surprise me one bit...The reason we got great films from Harry and the Rings movies was becasue they were complex and very deep...Tolkien put his life into the Lord of  the rings novels and just by luck we got Jackson to write, produce and direct them and he and all of his close friends loved the source material enough to make sure that it all translated onto the big screen and thank god for that because had it gotten the hollywood treatment, they probably would have ended up like these movies...

Kaziklu 8/13/2013 2:28:01 PM

 The issue with the Films is that they weren't planned. 

Harry Potter had age correct actors cast and a script that was basically in line with the major part of the book. The same with Lord of the Rings. 

With many of the other attempts, Percy among them, they cast people in their late teens for the first one, left out an entire plot point... and made significant changes to the points they did keep. 

The first Movie Left out Mr D, Kronos, and Clarisse it would be like Hair Potter not having Snape or Malfoy in it, and Voldermort not even being mentioned. 

The second film is trying to back track while on a budget... 



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