Film review: PERCY JACKSON – SEA OF MONSTERS, from Built For Speed

Those appalled by the way Clash of The Titans butchered Greek mythology should keep well clear of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters a film that tries to ram those Greek Myths into the dubious world of teen romantic adventure. The result is rarely adventurous, romantic or mythic as the film lumbers through dull, noisy cgi action sequences and employs scenes that are remarkably similar to ones from infinitely better films.

For the people who missed the previous film Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Monsters briefly reminds us that American teenager, Percy, is the son of Greek god Poseidon but also half human making him a “half-blood”.  After battling vengeful Gods, Percy has now sought refuge with girlfriend Annabeth (Alexandria Daddario), Satyr Grover (Brandon T Jackson) and other half-blood teens and assorted mythical creatures in Camp Half-Blood, a cross between Hogwarts and a Meatballs-style summer camp.  The teen Utopia is threatened, though, when Percy’s old nemesis Luke Castellan aka The Lightning Thief uses a curse to kill the magic tree and force field that protect Camp Half-Blood from monsters.  Consequently, Percy, Annabeth, Grover and Percy’s newly-arrived Cycloptic half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith) are forced to journey to the treacherous Sea of Monsters to recover the only object that can heal the tree and save their world: The Golden Fleece.  Meanwhile, the nefarious Luke also wants to get his mits on the Golden Fleece so that he can resurrect an ancient and supremely powerful evil that could obliterate Percy and his friends.

This story had the potential to be a rollicking adventure but with its bloodless action, dull characters and tendency to lurch from one clunky set-piece to another, it lacks the necessary tension, momentum, emotion and thrills.   Also, a preponderance of irritating contemporary references and nauseating quirky humour (the Grey Sisters of the Perseus Myth refer to people as BFF’s) kill any sense of mythological wonder.

Like so many contemporary films, Sea of Monsters is drenched in painfully unconvincing CGI effects the worst being the Oracle from whom Percy learns about the Golden Fleece which looks like the talking skeleton from the Craig Ferguson show.

Testament to the dirth of ideas in this film is the abundance of scenes that recall other movies.  Apart from its similarities  to the Harry Potter films, this movie features a giant monster mouth in the ocean just like the one in the sand in Return of the Jedi, an enormous Wrath of the Titans-style fiery monster and a sequence that looks like it could have come straight from the finale of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

More disappointing than script problems and lifeless action scenes, though, are the cast’s unconvincing performances.  As Percy, Logan Lerman, who was so affecting in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, has no charisma and appears as listless and disinterested as Bruce Willis in his recent movies.  Alexandria Daddario, while stunning and energetic, makes Annabeth seem like she could have been plucked from any teen soap.  Brandon T. Jackson is amiable as Grover but his clownish antics simply detract from the film’s credibility as a fantasy adventure.

Like most of these teen-oriented films, Sea of Monsters makes a couple of relevant allusions to vexing teen issues such as the need for social acceptance and the problems of a rapidly changing body but it fails to investigate these concerns with any depth.

As with the lamentable adaptation of Mortal Instruments: City of Bones this film will probably find favour with hard core acolytes of the novel on which its based but it will have a hard time convincing others.  If audiences want to see an exciting, visually inventive film involving Greek mythology, they’re better off revisiting the 1963 classic Jason and The Argonauts.


Nick’s rating: Two stars.

Classification: PG.

Director(s):  Thor Freudenthal

Release date: 19th Sept 2013

Running time:  106 mins

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