Greek mythology is a lot of fun what with all these gods, heroes, and monsters bumping into each other.
Seeing how well these stories played over the past 3,000 years it would make sense that they would make for some entertaining movies here in the 21st Century.
The Percy Jackson series of novels mines these ancient sagas for the Teen Beat set as it follows the exploits of a young demigod (half god/half-human) in the modern world, who learns of his heredity at the same time he learns all the ancient myths are indeed true.
The first Percy Jackson movie (burdened with the cumbersome title “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”) was a fun little romp given the Harry Potter treatment by director Chris Columbus.
The second movie in the series, with the much leaner title “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters,” is a tad less fun than the first movie, but still makes for above-average family fare.
Percy Jackson is still played admirably by Logan Lerman and “Sea of Monsters” opens where we last left Percy, kicking it at Camp Half-Blood, a sort of a summer-camp-meets-military-academy for young demigods.
Pierce Brosnan decided he had better things to do than being digitally attached to a horse’s body, so the role of Percy’s mentor, Chiron the centaur, has gone to Anthony Head.
But Percy still has his satyr protector, Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), and best gal pal Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) along from the first movie. He also leans he has a cyclops for a half-brother named Tyson (Douglas Smith). And you thought your family reunions were awkward.
From what I can gather, the formula for these movies seems to be that Percy is presented with a grand quest, which you think the movie is going to be all about; but instead, we spend most of our time on a side quest and then the main quest gets conveniently resolved along the way.
This time Percy learns he is the subject of a prophecy that says he will either save or destroy Olympus; a prophesy that gets some validation after the “destroy” part has been set in motion by disgruntled demigod Luke (Jake Abel).
But before any of that can be dealt with, Percy and his friends set off on a convoluted voyage to the Bermuda Triangle to retrieve the fabled Golden Fleece so they can heal a tree that protects the camp.
Fortunately, director Thor Freudenthal doesn’t let the movie get bogged down too much in the details as the film does well as our heroes bounce from one fantastical encounter to the next.
What I like about this series is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, as proven by a couple of inspired supporting role casting decisions. Nathan Fillion amps up the charm as Hermes, as he winks and nods his way through his portrayal of the messenger of the gods as a global shipping magnate.
Then we have Stanley Tucci, who plays Dionysus, the god of wine turned cynically glib camp overseer. I recently said that Hollywood should put Tucci in every movie and apparently they listened because the dude has been busy lately. He’s consistently great and even makes the horrible movies he pops up in that much more tolerable.
“Sea of Monsters” knows exactly what kind of movie it is and when it was over I left fully willing to sit through another Percy Jackson movie. I feel that is high praise for a movie of this ilk.
“Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” is rated PG for fantasy action violence, some scary images, and mild language.