Logan Lerman returns as the titular teen demigod in a lacklustre and largely joyless sequel to 2010’s The Lightning Thief.
This time, Jackson and co must retrieve the Golden Fleece to save their dying haven. But they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the magical material; Luke (who must have been in the first one, even though there’s no mention of it here) wants it for his own diabolical plan to raise an ancient evil.
Ever since the Harry Potter series wrapped up, studios have been attempting to recreate that magic. The difference between Potter and Jackson is that J.K. Rowling’s books already had a massive following before a cinematic deal was cut. Of course, the novels featuring Jackson have their fans, but they’re nowhere near the amount that its competition has. Furthermore, there was a sense of growing maturity with every Hogwarts-set movie. That certainly doesn’t appear to be the case here, and Sea of Monsters is a step backwards from what was already a painfully average franchise.
Lerman’s presence is likable enough as Percy, but his incessant lack of faith in himself is irritating: in The Lightning Thief, he was troubled with the same issues, and there’s a visible lack of progression in the character. His friends aren’t much better either, merely acting as expected company as opposed to necessary aides to the task. The addition of Jackson’s half brother who happens to be a cyclops is presumably the comic relief, but again, this is another area where expectations fall flat. The overall experience is devoid of any real laughs or genuine comedy: at the least, some corny puns wouldn’t have gone amiss, but Scriptwriter Marc Guggenheim (The Green Lantern) falls spectacularly from the dangerous tightrope walk between younger audiences and the adults who took them.
Adding to its pointless nature to even exist is the fact that the basic premise has been covered recently, in 2012’s Wrath of the Titans. While obviously there are differences, the summoning of Kronos is what really drives the narrative of both forward. When the moment does occur, it’s visually impressive, but woefully short. The finale is supposed to leave things on a cliffhanger, but for anyone who’s been following the rest of a film, the revelation could (and did) render the previous ninety minutes void.
Percy Jackson is desperate to be a successful franchise. The main ingredients are there, now all the studio needs is an experienced master of the craft to cook them right, because as of now, it’s well past its Use-By date.