Caffeinated Reviews – Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

This weekend, I went on a Percy Jackson binge.  After watching Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, I dragged my friend to see Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.  I didn’t like the writing in the books well enough to read past the first installment, but I do like the movies. The books are “young adult” and written for the average 10 to 14 year old reader, while the movies are enjoyable for the actual “adult” demographic. There were maybe two kids in the theatre I saw it in, (I went to an early Sunday morning showing) and a good fifteen to twenty adults aged 20 through 50.

So what’s it about? When Half-Blood Camp is attacked and endangered, Percy must overcome his own misgivings – and an old enemy – in order to find the mythic Golden Fleece capable of restoring the camp’s protections. There’s adventure, fight scenes, a smattering of drama, and a good wash of humor to keep the movie entertaining. I left the theatre with that confidence that comes from $8 well-spent on a 1.5 hour reality check-out. (I call it the movie-buzz.)

Going a little more in depth at it – without spoiling anything – I give good marks across the board. I liked the continuity it maintained from the first movie. It felt like the same world, even though the actors were all older and the characters were dealing with different problems in their teenaged lives. I thought they showed age-appropriate dialogue and characterization, too; Teenagers sounded like savvy teenagers and showed growth from the first movie.

The weak spots were easily overlooked with an eye roll but they were there. (And here thar be spoilers. ) Tyson was an awkward thread. From his parentage to Anna-Beth’s reaction to him, it felt shoehorned for awkard morale-drama and played out a bit over-done.  Percy was feeling down and out and needed another quest to cheer him up. The quest was enough to work with. But with the addition of Tyson to the quest, they lay on the “it could be worse, you could have been born a freak!” just a little thick. One of the reasons I like this series is the empowerment it brings to kids who didn’t grow up playing football and hanging out with the cool kids, and bringing in a character that looks funny and thinks slow to be mocked and feared by Percy’s crowd – even temporarily – messes with that.  Tyson had to hide who he was to fit in which works against message for the series. Worse, the acting in those scenes just didn’t work as well as the rest of the movie.

The story also still has an odd timeline in regards to locations, relying on a bit of magic-wand waving over issues of transportation, same as in the first movie.  The kids crossed the eastern coastline in good time, but I’m not sure how they managed it.Everything else is detailed and researched, but they couldn’t address how the heroes got around on their quest while working under a deadline? Small details like this distract me from the story!

My only other nit-picky observation is that it was possibly a little heavy on the external monologue – hello Percy Hamlet, nice to meet you – and family drama, but considering it is centered around demigods with daddy-issues that comes with the territory.

The movie made good use of location and CGI combos. Pretty things to look at and weird things to ewww at, both used to drag the viewer into Percy’s world. I particularly liked the sci-fi fandom nods in casting and scripting, but you can go on that scavenger hunt yourself. (And if they weren’t intentional, they left in some very clever ad lib choices.) I also loved the score, and the original music at the end was something I hadn’t seen done in awhile and appreciated for that. I’m not that old, really, but I get pretty nostalgic about movies over the strangest things. Songs written for movies is one of these things apparently.

All in all, I would (and do) recommend this movie if it falls in your genre. Go to have fun and you will more than likely leave with the mission accomplished.

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