Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters: Review
Reviewed by Samuel Rahaman
It’s been three years since Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief hit the big screen, the entertaining but flawed film adaptation of the first book in the global bestselling series of novels by the critically acclaimed author, Rick Riordan. The latest adaptation, Sea of Monsters, directed by Thor Freudenthal (Taking over from Christopher Columbus), had a lot to improve on. However with some dismal writing, insipid acting, and a derivative, predictable plot, the film fails to captivate interest and ends up leaving a lot to be desired.
The premise of the film is simple enough. After an attack on the camp by a rampaging mechanical bull, and the subsequent poisoning of the scared tree which helps to protect their camp from their enemies, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) and his friends Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) and his new half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith) must set out for the deadly Sea of Monsters in search of the Golden Fleece, a magical item which has the ability to heal anyone and anything. But along the way they face even more danger when they discover their old enemy and ex-fellow camp mate Luke Castellan (Jake Abel) is also in need of the fleece in order to resurrect the Titan Kronos and enact his revenge on the God’s of Olympus.
Now on paper this may sound like the makings of a blockbuster hit to rival other fantasy films such as the Harry Potter franchise, and if you are one of those expecting this, then safe to say you will most likely end up being disappointed with what you get. One of the major pitfalls of this film is the writing. Marc Guggenheim’s script has so many problems it’s difficult knowing where exactly to begin. Those who have never read the books, I fear, will struggle to keep up with the sheer amount of information that is thrown at you. In fact the audience are hardly allowed any time to breathe, for you are barraged with problem, after problem that the young team have to solve. And whilst the special effects and the cinematography try to detract your attention by offering some truly spectacular scenes for the audience to gasp at, it doesn’t do enough to hide the fact that the writing is over reliant on cliché’s – and not to mention the whole thing is completely predictable. Even the humour, which was one of the highlights of the original film, is just plain cringeworthy. However, I can guarantee children will be in hysterics at the camp one-liners and gimmicks.
Another factor of the film which I found to be disappointing is the lacklustre acting from the lead protagonists. Logan Lerman has proven himself to be a magnificent actor in the past (His recent role in The Perks of Being a Wallflower being a prime example of this). However, here Lerman is poorly utilized. For most of the film Percy is self-loathing and crestfallen at the fact that his father chooses to ignore him believing that he isn’t good enough, and wonders whether he can live up to everyone’s expectations and save them all (Sound familiar to a certain lightning scarred wizard?). Lerman does his best, but due to the poor material that he is given, he fails to connect with the audience and he comes across as a rather bland character – not something you want from the leading man.
Similarly Alexandra Daddario is another victim to poor material, despite having a prominent role in the original film and in the book series themselves. In Sea of Monsters, Annabeth is nothing more than a love interest to Percy. As well as this, she comes across as a very horrible character in some scenes which involve her prejudice against Tyler, Percy’s Cyclops half-brother. Her constant bullying of him makes for some rather uncomfortable viewing. It is the older cast members that steal the film however, even for the small roles they have. Most notably Anthony Head as the head of the Camp, Chiron (Replacing Pierce Brosnan from the first film). Head commands every scene he is in, but even his small but magnificent presence isn’t enough to save this film.
I must say though; the film does have some good points, mainly the simply stunning direction and cinematography. The special effects sequences were the best parts of the film, with the CGI being very impressive. The highlights are the Sea of Monsters scene, and the grand finale at Circe’s Amusement Park. The 3D isn’t very well utilised though; it fails to be immersive, and Freudenthal attempts nothing new with the format; I’d save your money and just go for the standard 2D release. Despite the films flaws I have a feeling that younger children will love this film for all its worth, as it is blatantly obvious that this film is targeted to children of the pre-teen age; older viewers may find themselves wishing they hadn’t even bothered watching.
Final Rating: 4/10
Overall, Sea of Monsters is a complete waste of potential. The film could have set the series off to be the next big blockbuster franchise, but instead we are left with a film that is style over substance. The impressive visuals and fantastic use of special effects cannot hide the film’s shortcomings, and fans of the book series will be left with a sour taste in their mouths; though children will undoubtedly be left impressed and feeling satisfied with what they are given.