Review: 'Percy Jackson 2' a fluid adventure

By Fred Hawson

Posted at Aug 11 2013 11:39 AM | Updated as of Aug 12 2013 08:13 PM

A scene from “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

This second installment of the Percy Jackson film franchise begins with the story of how the sacrifice of Thalia, demigod daughter of Zeus, gave rise to a tree which provided a protective shield over Camp Half-Blood. When enemies poison this enchanted tree, our demigod hero Percy and his close friends, fellow demigod Annabeth and satyr Grover, embark on a quest to find the legendary Golden Fleece in order to use its healing powers to heal the tree and restore its shield as soon as possible.

Along with them in this quest is Clarisse, demigod daughter of Ares; and Tyson, the gentle cyclops half-brother of Percy. This adventure not only brings them to Circe's amusement park island, where the Golden Fleece was protected by the vicious cyclops Polyphemus, it will also bring them face to face with the ultimate evil Titan, Kronos himself, who has been resurrected from the depths of Tartarus by his misguided minions.

I really liked the fluid way the story telling in this film flowed. Even young audiences can easily follow the story. However, a few head-scratchers may arise when you look back in retrospect, but they did not diminish my enjoyment at all. Audiences who have not read the book will probably enjoy it more since they go in without very big expectations about their favorite parts of the novel.

There are so many elaborate computer-generated effects which looked very good, like the bronze bull that attacked Camp Half-Blood; the colorful stained-glass rendition of the big prophecy involving Percy; the frenetic taxi ride with the Grey Sisters; the graceful Hippocampus creature; the two bickering snakes on the rod on Hermes; the churning belly of Charybdis -- I thought all of these visual effects were done really well.

Logan Lerman is really a very good young actor. He can convey his internal conflicts very effectively, and he can also execute some pretty intense action stunts. Alexandra Daddario is a very beautiful Annabeth, though her movie character sort of diminished the strength and daring of her book character. Brandon T. Jackson plays the sidekick Grover with adeptness for physical comedy.

The character of Clarisse was played by slim and pretty actress Leven Rambin. This was pretty much against the way brusque and hefty Clarisse was described in the books. Tyson was played with much charm and sensitivity by Douglas Scott, despite the rather distractingly strange way the CGI of his cyclops eye was achieved.

Their camp trainers are now portrayed by new actors. The god Dionysus, lovingly called Mr. D, is now played by the ever-reliable Stanley Tucci. The centaur Chiron, previously played by Pierce Brosnan, is now portrayed by Anthony Head. Too bad they had limited screen time. The part in the book where Chiron was suspected of poisoning Thalia's tree, was fired and replaced, was not even mentioned in the film.

After the movie, my youngest son asked me, "The title is "Sea of Monsters." But why was there only ONE monster?" And as I have already read the book before, I noted that a lot of events and details described in Rick Riordan's book had to be sacrificed or altered for the sake of streamlining this film version.

A most glaring omission was the episode in Circe's spa where Percy was turned into a guinea pig. They also junked that part of the novel about the deadly Hydra, as well as the part about Blackbeard's ship and the Sirens.

Despite these deviations from the original source, the final result by director Thor Freudenthal (previously known for more kiddie fare like "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and "Hotel for Dogs") is actually a neat, easy to follow, very entertaining adventure film for young and old alike. An enjoyable 7/10, but would have been higher had I not read the book first.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."