Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013) is a monster of a movie in all senses of the word. The latest instalment in what looks like fast becoming the next big franchise series delivers action and noise aplenty, but perhaps at the cost of anything of real depth. Directed by (the appropriately named) Thor Freudenthal and starring Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, and Brandon T. Jackson, this follow-up to the less than warmly received Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief (2010), is pretty much more of the same. Percy Jackson (Lerman), the half-human son of the god Poseidon, finds himself in trouble once again.
This time round, Percy is faced with a deadly foe whom, unbeknownst to him, is actually a relative. So, with the help of his friends Annabeth (Daddario) and Grover (Jackson) it is up to Percy to save himself, and the world, from a fate of mythical proportions. There is a fundamental problem within the field of modern cinema aimed at the older children’s (often referred to as ‘young adult’) market – namely Harry Potter. Since the initial 2001 outing in that cinematic juggernaut, everything which followed (including its numerous sequels) was justly or otherwise graded against that original. Studio’s were falling over themselves to discover their own pot of gold, hence 20th Century Fox latching onto author Rick Riordan’s bestselling series.
Placing Jackson in the town-like environs of the laughably named Camp Half-Blood, completely self-sufficient and removed from the outside world, is hardly a subtle narrative device. Furthermore, having this magical place peopled by an array of characters half-human – and in this case half-god (the source of any required magical powers) – as well as an obligatory smattering of centaurs and fauns, and the similarities between Jackson and Potter quickly become blatant to anyone with even a passing acquaintance with J.K. Rowling’s beloved boy wizard creation.
As a result, apart from the clever inclusion of several creatures from Greek mythology updated for modern consumption, the adventures of Jackson as he battles an ancient evil intent on destroying him could be a further adventure of Rowling’s wizard in all but name. Sea of Monsters may be a diverting and impressively visualised celluloid adventure but, as previously stated, this is firmly spectacle over substance. As depth is unlikely to be what this film’s core demographic is looking for, that minor shortcoming is unlikely to be of great concern for fans.