While it feels so much longer than that, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters only took three years to come out after Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. After changing one of the titular character’s hair color and then dropping them from the title, the latest Percy Jackson movie replaces Pierce Brosnan with Anthony Stewart Head and ups the ante as Percy and crew find themselves venturing into the sea of monsters to recover the golden fleece that Jason and his Argonauts sought in the myth of old.
After watching and enjoying the first Percy Jackson movie during its theatrical run, I actually went and read all of the novels on which they are based. Even without the caveat that they are intended for the young teen age range, I found them to be very enjoyable books that took great pride in studying the Greek legends we have a casual familiarity with and spinning them into fascinating stories that didn’t cheapen the source material (unless you count taking out the sex as cheapening, but hey, these are for kids).
While the first film changed elements, like any adaption does, it stayed true to the spirit of the novels and Sea of Monsters does as well. We are happily treated to an adventure that has a surprising amount of violence and action for a series marketed at children. This isn’t the usual ‘action packed’ kids movie either. There is constantly a real sense of danger for the characters and violent actions aren’t taken with casual abandon. If someone gets hurt, characters react in ways you would actually expect them to. It’s yet another movie in the growing line of modern titles that doesn’t talk down to its audience, which is exactly what we want.
After the events of the first film, Percy is worried that he isn’t going to live up to the expectations set for him, which is something everyone deals with at some point. While the actual narrative plots are relatively new for the movie, the interpersonal conflicts are things we’ve seen countless times in fiction, yet they are handled well. It’s the film’s ability to take these often called upon character arcs and still make you care about the plights of the characters that justify its existence.
Perhaps it’s my enjoyment of the books or my revulsion at the Smurfs that carried into a movie that doesn’t talk down to children and actually gives them an entertaining story filled with danger and complex narrative threads that helped elevate Sea of Monsters, but I think it really boils down to the fact that the Percy Jackson franchise is a series that the whole family can enjoy. I don’t see it ever busting box offices or having theme parks reskinned in its likeness, but there is plenty of fun Greek themed adventure to be had. Bring on The Titans Curse.
In Theaters: August 9, 2013
Runtime: 106 min
Rating: PG for fantasy action violence, some scary images and mild language
Director: Thor Freudenthal
Cast: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Studio: 1492 Pictures, Sunswept Entertainment
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Official Site: http://www.percyjacksonthemovie.com/us/