The cliffhanger that closes out “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” seems to promise more “Percy” adventures to come, and should they decide to indeed move forward with the franchise, let’s hope the studio ponies up more green than they did for the crummy-looking “Sea of Monsters.”
2010’s palaverously titled “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” made more money overseas than it did here in the States, which explains why there’s a sequel in the first place, but Fox cut the budget dramatically on “Percy 2” and the film suffers because of it. Often clunky and cheap-looking, “Sea of Monsters” sometimes plays closer to “Percy Jackson: Mountain of Cheese.”
For what it’s worth, “Sea of Monsters” — which puts “half-blood” Percy (Logan Lermann) on a quest to retrieve a golden fleece capable of restoring the peace to the training camp he and his demigod friends call home — has a bevy of half-decent special effect creatures, including one rainbow-colored seahorse, a computer-generated cyclops who eats people and a half-werewolf/half-scorpion-type thing. But, for every diverting CGI creation there are two downright awful ones, like a trio of cab-driving witches who share an eyeball, for example, or the giant, volcanic demon who is a dead-ringer for the giant, volcanic demon in last year’s even more putrid “Wrath of the Titans.”
The film’s chaotic structure will also bode unwell for the young tweens at which the movie, which is based on a series of fantasy-adventure novels by Rick Riordan, is aimed. The plotting in “Monsters” bogs down heavily with new characters constantly being introduced, including at least one too many unnecessary villains, as well as far too many sequences in which magic plays a major role in getting Percy out of his latest jam and a lame subplot involving Percy getting to know his boring, cycloptic half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith).
“Sea of Monsters” is not a total bust. A couple of the action scenes are exciting, and Nathan Fillion is swell in a fleeting cameo as Hermes, God of the apropos-of-nothing “Firefly” joke. But it is a shame Fillion couldn’t have been used in the movie more. For the most part, “Monsters” belongs to the film’s younger cast, some of whom are approaching 30 and won’t be believable as wet-behind-the-ears demigods much longer.
★★ (out of ★★★★)
Rated PG. 106 minutes, 2013.
Director: Thor Freudenthal. Starring: Logan Lermann, Alexandra Daddario.