‘Sea of Monsters’ plays safe


By Nandini Ramnath

McClatchy-Tribune

Nick Riordan’s fantasy adventure series “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” seems to have been written with the sole purpose of making Greek mythology cool for school.

The conceit of the best-selling books is that “half-bloods” — the result of the union between Greek gods and human beings — are going about their daily business on earth (meaning the United States of America) while waiting to be discovered by circumstance. Think X-Men, only lighter in tone and with younger and more attractive leads.

Percy is a dyslexic, attention-deficit teenager who happens to be the son of Poseidon with immense powers of his own.

It’s the kind of empowering stuff that will hook teenagers and comfort parents who would rather have their progeny cooing over well-behaved and dutiful half-bloods than lovesick vampires.

In the first movie adaptation of the books, “Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief,” Percy (Logan Lerman) finds out his true destiny and takes his rightful place at Camp Half-blood, home to other adolescent demigods like him.

Woven into Percy’s adventures with gods, monsters and half-human and half-animal creatures are lessons about the merits of teamwork and the need to trust authority figures, even when they are absent fathers.

The sequel “Sea of Monsters,” directed by Thor Freudenthal (“The Lightning Thief” director Chris Columbus has a producer credit on this movie) doesn’t waste too much time on the backstory and jumps straight into the action sequences, which are plentiful.

Marc Guggenheim’s screenplay simplifies a frenetic series of events in which Percy, Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), and a newly discovered half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith), who happens to be half-Cyclops, prevent rogue half-blood Luke (Jake Abel, who looks startlingly like a modern-day Frankenstein) from resurrecting the dead god Kronos.

The running time is trim (1 hour, 45 minutes) and the visual effects dazzling, including a rampaging metal bull, the phosphorescent insides of the sea monster Charybdis, a blue-green sea horse and resurrected Kronos, who is imagined as a horned creature made entirely out of glowing hot coals.

The computer-generated imagery provides welcome distractions from the attractive yet anodyne young leads and the familiar feeling of having seen it all several times before.

 

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