Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013)
Critic Consensus: It's pretty and packed with action; unfortunately, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is also waterlogged with characters and plots that can't help but feel derivative.
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Critic Reviews for Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Precious little about this is particularly memorable, but it's the odd touch of local color that makes these routine acts of derring-do a bit easier to bear.
Lerman is adroit at looking eager and battle-worthy but not too cocky in a film as much about character development as sword play.
There are plenty of bad films to get riled up about in the summer. "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" isn't one of them. This is harmless tween-centric fun.
Even for those missing their Harry Potter fix, this is some weak, watered-down stuff.
Audience Reviews for Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
When I reviewed the first Percy Jackson film, I took great pains to put the film in context, particularly regarding its relationship to the Harry Potter series. I spoke about how many fantasy franchises were launched on the back of the success of The Lord of the Rings, and how the vast majority of these fell short either of Peter Jackson's groundbreaking trilogy or the eventual success of Harry Potter. With Harry Potter now done and dusted, and The Hobbit films failing to match the critical reputation of their predecessors, Sea of Monsters stands more of a chance at competing both for the hearts and the money of its core teenage audience. If previous records are anything to go by, Chris Columbus' lack of involvement this time around should lead to some kind of improvement. And sure enough, a slight improvement is what we get, showing if nothing else what difference a decent director can make. One of the big problems with Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief was Columbus' approach to the source material. Throughout his career he has always been relunctant to place any kind of creative or artistic stamp over and above the source material, preferring to slavishly reproduce the story for fear of offending the fans which are his target audience. Chamber of Secrets, the second Harry Potter film, is particularly guilty of this, but Philosopher's Stone is just as careless in many aspects, taking so long to set things up that the experience becomes less magical. Thor Freudenthal's directorial career is not exactly glittering in comparison, his previous efforts being Hotel for Dogs and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He is a nuts and bolts filmmaker who understands working with children and special effects, but at the very least he has the confidence to make changes to the story where they are necessary for the medium. While Sea of Monsters still has a great many problems, it is more cinematic than its predecessor both visually and narratively. Make no mistake, there are huge aspects of Sea of Monsters that look or feel derivative. The entire attack on the woods which takes place early in the film is very close to the woodland scenes in Deathly Hallows Part I, with touches of the Battle of Hogwarts from Part II. The visual sensibility is still very close to the Potter films, including the prominent blue tones to the cinematography. Throw in the familiar character dynamics, with romance and rivalry abounding, and it's easy to feel that we've been here many times before. But while Sea of Monsters isn't groundbreakingly original in either its story or its characters, both aspects are engaging enough to make us either forget or overlook its resemblances to Harry Potter and other fantasy franchises. While it never makes enough of an argument to stand entirely on its own, it does feel more confident about its identity and what it wants to do. The film is a decent, solid, generic popcorn blockbuster, nothing more, nothing less. One aspect in which Sea of Monsters scores over The Lightning Thief is how it handles all its references to Greek mythology. The Lightning Thief contained a number of fitting reimaginings of classical figures or places in Greek mythology - for instance, Medusa's lair as a garden centre full of statues, or the Den of the Lotus Eaters as a casino. But Columbus struggled to marshall these images or set-pieces into a non-episodic plot, resulting in a film of several promising moments but precious little else. Sea of Monsters works all of its touches more fittingly into its plot. Having Hermes as the busy CEO as an Amazon-esque corporation could have been just a pleasant throwaway gag, but the script gives time to see exactly how Hermes operates and thereby adds weight to Luke's disdain for him, which manifests in his search for the Fleece. The same goes for Stanley Tucci's delightful role as Dionysus, with more effort going into fleshing out his role at Camp Half-Blood alongside the jokes about Jesus turning water into wine. The film also makes a lot more of the Prometheus myth, which runs through both of the stories. While not specific to Percy's arc, both The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters revolve around human individuals (or half-humans at any rate) who arrogantly deprive the Gods of something essential to their power and authority. Prometheus' original theft of fire is substituted for a lightning bolt or the Golden Fleece, just as in Sherlock the journal of Dr. John Watson becomes a blog. While The Lightning Thief barely touched upon the myth or its implications, Sea of Monsters explores the themes of Prometheus' story in a little more detail. The story of the characters is a battle between hubristic arrogance, on the part of Luke and Clarisse, and the more selfless position to Percy, Grover, Annabeth and Tyson. While the arrogance of the former party puts them at a short-term advantage in battle situations, they ultimately do not have the ability to control the power they are willing to unleash. The only departure from the original story is that humans rein in this power with the Gods' assistance, rather than the Gods acting alone. By bringing the themes of the story more to the fore, Sea of Monsters makes it easier to bond with the characters, or at least to understand their motivations enough that we go along with their actions. The dynamic between Percy, Grover and Annabeth is largely unchanged, but we do get a little character development on the latter's part with the revelation about the cyclops. It's also refreshing that Clarisse isn't just presented as a lazy romantic rival for Percy's affections; she may be unlikeable, but she does at least get to be unlikeable under her own steam, and for her own reasons. The main performances in Sea of Monsters are all pretty decent. Logan Lerman isn't as good here as he was in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but he does make Percy a believable protagonist even if he isn't always the most charismatic. Leven Rambin, who appeared briefly in The Hunger Games, provides a welcome spark with Clarisse: she is an unlikeable character, but her performance is memorable. Stanley Tucci is the highlight of the adult cast, bringing a weariness to Dionysus without looking like he doesn't want to be in the film. The other big plus with Sea of Monsters is its improved special effects. The film is shot by Shelly Johnson, known for his collaborations with director Joe Johnston stretching back to Jurassic Park III. He's used to working on CG-heavy blockbusters, and he manages to bring a little more weight to the set-pieces. His task is more difficult considering the amount of water involved - water being very hard to digitally replicate - but the film is a lot more integrated and a little more physical through his efforts. Having trundled along rather nicely for most of its running time, the film does somewhat drop the ball when it comes to its big final set-piece, involving Luke's resurrection of Kronos. While the effects are pretty decent and the broken fairground setting is appealing, in all other aspects it's a straight lift from Raiders of the Lost Ark. While we're not treated to any melting faces or shouts of "keep your eyes shut!", it follows the sequence pretty much beat-for-beat. The other slight fly in the ointment is Tyson himself. While Annabeth's character development is welcome, he always feels like something of a spare part, being either played for comic relief or written into the background whenever the plot doesn't require him. As a result his death scene doesn't have as much weight as perhaps it could, and Douglas Smith's delivery often feels flat and unemotional. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is a decent popcorn blockbuster which improves on its predecessor without making compelling arguments for a further film. The improved direction and effects, along with a more rounded approach to storytelling, keep us entertained long enough for its flaws and derivative qualities to be less of a problem. If there is to be a third film, the series will definitely have to up its game, but for now it's perfectly harmless fun.
I didn't expect much when the first "Percy Jackson" movie came out and was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed it and thought it was much better than other young adult fantasy movies. Did I think it had enough juice for a franchise? Probably not, but for a one off film, it was good. So with the sequel my expectations were lower, and that's a good thing, because this falls in the "not nearly as good as the first movie" category of sequels. Here, Percy(Logan Lerman) and his demi-god friends, and Cyclops half brother, have to recover the golden fleece and save their camp. This feels like a tv episode where it's like "hey guys, let's go on an adventure", but doesn't move the story along at all. All the characters are pretty stagnant, and the Cyclops brother is lame and poorly acted. Last year Lerman was the star of one of my favorite movies of the year, "Perks of a Wallflower". He showed he can be a terrific actor, but this feels like a step back for him. Also, for being 2013, the effects weren't really up to snuff with other similar movies. Now, having said all that, I'm not the target audience. This is for kids/teens, and I can see them enjoying it. Will(my 7 year old nephew) came in with about 30 minutes left and seemed to enjoy it. It leaves it open for a third one, which I don't think it needs, but hopefully it will be better and give this franchise the life it needs to sustain.
In Demi-gods we trust. Good Movie! Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters only settles for being an "okay" movie. There are constant deviations from the novel, only decent scripting, acting, visual effects, good music, and mixed acting. However, it is not a waste, especially for fans of Percy Jackson. Now that many characters and plot points have been set into place after being shattered by the first film, the makers of this film have paved a promising path for another film that may be even better than the first two. In this retelling of Rick Riordans book, "The Sea of Monsters", Percy Jackson, accompanied by his friends Annabeth Chase, Clarisse La Rue and Tyson, his half brother, goes on a journey to the Sea of Monsters to retrieve the Golden Fleece and save Camp Half-Blood.
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