Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is the sequel to Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010). Both movies are based on the Rick Riordan’s novels of the same name, and are a part of the five part novel series ‘Percy Jackson & the Olympians’. The films have been made on a relatively modest budget of roughly $90 million (each), with the first film gaining relative success. The franchise as a whole is marketed in the same ‘Harry Potter’ vein, with long standing novels adapted into film. Riordan’s Percy Jackson books are in fact still on-going with his tenth book set to release in Fall 2014 continuing on with his second storyline arc ‘The Heroes of Olympus’.
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The franchise as a whole is based on the fact that Greek mythology is real, everything we know about it in lore and legend is real and everything we don’t know is the mystery. The sell for the world is that while those stories/legends/tales may have happened in the past, these Greek gods still exist today in modern society. And the added notion is that they still come down to Earth from time to time, develop relationships with humans and produce offspring. The offspring as a result are demi-gods (half mortal/half god) and possess strengths and abilities notable of their parents. These children are seen as outcasts, trying to find their own relevancy as well as understanding their own existence. As such many individuals like Percy as per the first film, now reside in the secret residence of Camp Half-Blood. And that is the setting Riordan’s story has for his books, with Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, 2001 and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 2002) having directed the first film and Thor Freudenthal (Hotel for Dogs, 2009 and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, 2010) as the director of the second film.
Sea of Monsters opens up with a flashback of seven years prior when Luke Castellan (played by Jake Abel), Grover Underwood (played by Brandon T. Jackson), Annabeth Chase (played by Alexandra Daddario), and Thalia Grace (played by Paloma Kwiatkowski/Katelyn Mager) are running through the forest making their way to Camp Half-Blood for the very first time. Being chased by various mythical beasts, Thalia (demi-god/daughter of Zeus) sacrifices herself so that Luke, Grover, and Annabeth can escape. Seemingly left for dead, Zeus takes pity on her actions and instead of her soul being sent to the underworld he makes her one with the forest becoming a magical life tree (that’s what I’m calling it) which subsequently sends out a barrier to protect and surround all of Camp Half-Blood. Only demi-gods or gods can pass through and since then it has been a point of solace for all the camp’s residents.
The sequel as a whole is straight forward as it works to expand the universe of Percy Jackson further. The point here is that the world overall has a hidden layer of Greek mythology integrated, unknown and secret from/to humans (ie. mythical beings work at coffee shops, you can withdraw Greek currency from normal ATMs, and the local UPS might actually be run by Hermes [played by Nathan Fillion]). The franchise so much isn’t about the story and its setting, as it’s about the characters which expand the universe further and their eventual importance later on. And that’s part of the worry you have as a fan of the franchise if you’ll get to see all five films on-screen to complete what is being presented (keep in mind there is even more). It’s tough to see Sea of Monsters as a better film than The Lightning Thief as it lacked the general mysticism the first film had, an expansion of the universe generally means more wonder, everything instead feels safely contained both in budget and imagination of presentation. And even when there is seemingly more at stake here and more danger, Sea of Monsters feels like it holds back in the becoming too dark of a film category. Freudanthal’s directing of the film is safe and it lacks the wonder that Columbus had in the first movie. The movie in general is what you expect as a result, as is the acting, and everything else involved. It’s serviceable and nothing more. It’s not a bad thing for the fans of the franchise, but it’s a question to definitely ask moving forward as the film is almost ‘direct to home video-esque’ but with a larger budget. And it’s a sad contention as Sea of Monsters plays a pivotal role in introducing the overarching storyline that will lead to the end of the fifth book by Riordan. But that in itself is the journey of the books being adapted into films, their potentially improbable success or success if Percy Jackson will have its chance.
I know at this point for myself it was a mild interest in the first film and an ever so slight curiosity in the second film. And even moving forward if there are more sequels, it’s an almost strange obligation to have to keep seeing what happens next. Sea of Monsters is by no means great; it is absolutely bland especially considering the first film was already marginal. There is slightly enough here however to keep things going but at this point… does it really even matter?
I give Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters a 5 out of 10.