The half-blood dream team is back in Percy Jackson: the Sea of Monsters – the second installment in the Percy Jackson series and the direct sequel to the 2010 movie Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. This time around in the interest of shortening the original title just a bit they dropped ‘& the Olympians’ which, honestly, wasn’t doing much for them anyway.
After three years, I was a little surprised to hear that the Sea of Monsters was being made at all. I really liked the first movie in the series. I actually liked it a lot better than I liked the book series as a whole. The first movie was really well done, it cut things that needed to be cut from the book, and it stood alone. If we had just gotten The Lightning Thief that would have been fine.
I wasn’t going to say no to another journey to Camp Half-Blood!
All of the younger actors are back for the sequel though some of the older faces have changed. Logan Lerman is back as the titular Percy Jackson which is a nice bit of continuity considering the three year gap between these films. We see our other heroes – and villain – return as well as Brandon T. Jackson (Grover), Alexandra Daddario (Annabeth), and Jake Abel (Luke) all reprise their roles. Sadly, Kevin McKidd (Poseidon) and most of the other gods are completely unseen in this film except for Nathan Fillion who appears for the first time as Hermes, father of Luke.
We swap out Pierce Brosnan as Chiron for Anthony Stewart Head which just gave me a lot of Buffy feels and then swap out whoever it was that played Dionysus in the original with the fantastic Stanley Tucci. He doesn’t really get a whole lot of screen time and is purely there for comedic relief for the most part but he was definitely a welcome addition. The series also gets it’s first look at Percy’s unusual cyclops half brother, Tyson, played by Douglas Smith whose only notable credit seems to be Big Love. And, lastly, Levin Rambin joins the cast as Clarisse, daughter of Aries, who basically runs circles around Percy during their time at Camp Half-blood.
Right, so. Let’s talk plot here.
If you’ve read the books like I have then you certainly won’t be disappointed. You will, however, notice a lot of plot changes for the film. They don’t seem like that big of changes but for fans of the series they are quite obvious. Sadly, the Party Ponies are one of the things cut. I know. I’m heartbroken, too.
Without spoiling too much for those who haven’t read the books or seen the movie yet, the basic premise of this story – like all the Percy Jackson stories – revolves around a quest. However, it’s not Percy’s quest this time. On a seemingly normal day at camp a mechanical bull manages to break through the magical barrier and wrecks havoc through the camp before being stopped by Percy. They discover very quickly that a.) Luke did not die in the first movie and is still hellbent on exacting his vengeance on Olympus and b.) the magical tree that protects the camp from danger has been poisoned. In a little bit of exposition at the beginning, Percy explained that the tree was actually the spirit of Thalia, a daughter of Zues, who was killed protecting her friends – Luke, Annabeth, and Grover – as they tried to reach the safety of the camp while being hunted down by evil cyclopses. Without the tree, the camp could be easily attacked. So Dionysus – after a recommendation from Annabeth – calls for a quest to recover the Golden Fleece which could save the tree.
He sends Clarisse.
I mean, of course he does. Clarisse is clearly awesome. Full of herself, sure. But considering all the quests she had gone on and succeeded in completing she deserves some good old fashioned Greek egotism. Plus, she’s a great character.
Of course, just because it’s Clarisse’s quest doesn’t mean that Percy and his friends aren’t going to go crash the quest. With Tyson in tow they go off to try and find the Golden Fleece themselves. In doing so, they meet up with Nathon Fillion’s Hermes who helps them track down Luke who they realize is also searching for the Golden Fleece. Apparently Luke is dead set on ressurrecting Kronos – the Titan who was defeated by Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon in Greek mythology. That’s how basically insane Luke is. He thinks that’s a good way to get back at Olympus.
Luke, you’re hot and all but c’mon.
There have to be better ways for you to deal with your daddy issues.
In the end it falls to Percy, his friends, Clarisse, and his half-brother Tyson to stop Luke and once again save Camp Half-Blood and Olympus itself.
All in all, the story plays out pretty well. Like I said, there are a lot of changes from the original book but just like in the first movie most of them are for the better. It’s a little Harry Potter-y sometimes (especially the taxi scenes) but I don’t think we can really escape that just yet. Those movies set the standard for this sort of adaptation. The plot makes sense! Mostly. And I guess it’s engaging enough. It just doesn’t hit the same sort of stride that the first movie did.
They are trying, though. And it’s clear that they want to keep making these movies because the end of this movie is pretty much an Empire Strikes Back-style cliffhanger.
Very much aware that Logan Lerman is now twenty-one, the Great Prophecy from the book series is changed to say that Percy will either save or destroy Olympus by his twenty-first birthday. Still, at the rate they are making these movies Logan Lerman will be thirty by the time the final film comes out. Assuming they make all five. And if we ever see a Heroes of Olympus movie series made it’ll have to be an entirely new cast. (Since that would bring Logan Lerman up to forty-five at the end of the series at the rate we’re going.)
Honestly, my biggest problem with this movie was Annabeth. Her character was just really, really flat this time around. Everyone else was great. This is a solid movie. The plot works, the changes from the book made the story much better, and I love the cast in general. It’s pretty spot on casting. (I’m a little iffy on the guy playing Tyson but it’s a hard character to play in general.) I mean, to be fair, Annabeth has always been a pretty flat character to me even in the books. She’s supposed to be our strong female character but she’s not at all. She’s just a flat sort of Hermione stand in (Daughter of Athena, God of Wisdom anyone?) who doesn’t even begin to rise to that level of awesome. In this movie all she does is sorta mope about Thalia’s death and be vaguely racist against cyclops. And even then none of that is really built upon. Her explaination of why she hates all cyclops just reminds me of the chick in Sharknado who talks about her grandfather getting eaten by sharks and then ends with, “So, I just really hate sharks.”
So, the final and ultimate question: should you see this movie?
Would I go see it in theatres? If you’ve got kids or you’re a fan of the book series then yes. The only way we’ll see the other three movies is if this one does well, I’m sure. So go support the box office numbers! When Therese and I went we saw it in 3D which didn’t really add much to the experience but I also don’t really have the ability to see in 3D so it very rarely works for me and adds to my experience. I’ll have to have Therese chime in on whether or not it’s worth it to see it in 3D in the comments or something. But if you just liked the first movie and felt it was just fine as a stand alone film (which I kind of think) then maybe catch it on DVD or something a little later on.
In my opinion, this movie gets a C+; the plus was added mostly for nostalgia’s sake.