(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: The second film in the Percy Jackson series has the young demigod, a few friends, and several opponents going off on a new quest for the Golden Fleece. When the story is over it feels like it had the heft of a James Bond film--there's a lot of action in one film. The film is based on a popular young adult novel, and the real star of the film is production designer Claude Paré who creates some beautiful images of monsters and gives the film a great look. The story is all too obviously aimed at a young adult audience complete with a few "life lessons" for the viewer. The film makes for decent entertainment as an above- average action film. It helps to have seen the first film in the series. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS is the second film in the Percy Jackson series, whose premise is that the gods of Ancient Greece were real and are still around today. Percy is a modern boy who finds he is the son of Poseidon. The series tells the on-going story of self-doubting Percy's efforts to stay alive and protect the interests of the gods. As such it has a stronger story arc than the James Bond films, for example. The films so far stand alone, but are better if seen in the proper sequence.

The film begins with a bang with monsters chasing four of the young demigods at Camp Half-Blood. One loses her life and is transformed into a giant pine tree, making the tree part of a barrier that will protect the camp from monsters. The camp is then attacked by a mammoth Colchis Bull apparently made of fire and bronze armor and that is part Transformer. The barrier has not kept out the bull, and the problem is the pine tree has been poisoned leaving the barrier vulnerable. Soon Percy is off on a new quest for the Golden Fleece that has the power to heal the tree and hence fortify the barrier. Among those accompanying Percy is a half-brother he never knew he had and who is a Cyclops. Making a Cyclops look human with one eye is not always easy. The process has progressed since the days of KRULL. We also have a titan depicted as animated stained glass and several other arresting effects.

The story is denser than most action films and may require more than one viewing before it all fits into place. Worry not. The screen images are enough to keep the audience connected with the film, even if occasionally leaving some will try to remember exactly who is who. The real hero of this film is not Percy Jackson but production designer Claude Paré who previously designed the look of the two "Night at the Museum" films and of THE RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. This film with its various ideas for the looks of monsters probably is his best work. Directing is Thor Freudenthal and the screenplay, perhaps a weak point of the film, was provided by Marc Guggenheim who previously adapted the comic book for the recent GREEN LANTERN. The film shows its roots in films like JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS and CLASH OF THE TITANS certainly, but there is also some YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, some MEN IN BLACK, and touches from James Bond films.

Some of the most familiar actors involved are Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillon, Anthony Head, and the voices of Sean Bean, Ron Perlman, and Shohreh Aghdashloo of HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG. At some point it becomes a distraction to put in actors who are too familiar and whose presence pulls the viewer out of the story.

Somehow the film might have been more charming with Ray Harryhausen effects than with CGI, but I would rate PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. It is a little patronizing for the script to call demigods instead "half-gods." And to associate mythological monsters with the Bermuda triangle seems a cheap shot.

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					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2014 Mark R. Leeper