PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS
It is for these reasons that I had little enthusiasm for the sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, which is adapted from Rick Riordans second book The Sea of Monsters (2006). Chris Columbus is absent from the directors chair this time, although is present as an executive producer, while the film comes via his 1492 Pictures production company. The new director to take the chair is German-born Thor Freudenthal who had worked as a storyboard artist on the Stuart Little films and second-unit director on The Haunted Mansion (2003). Freudenthals prior oeuvre as director of Hotel for Dogs (2009) and Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010) did nothing to excite one in the slightest.
The sad truth about both of the fantasy franchises started by Chris Columbus the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series is that they markedly improve once Columbus hands the directors chair over to a successor. Thor Freudenthal, while essentially working with the same elements as the first film, fashions them into a more polished effort. The direction is better one felt they were dramatically inside the film and following the characters through the plot, whereas with Columbus the same thing felt like one was simply moving from one random encounter to the next. The special effects sequences feel less like they are just eye candy with there being one well staged sequence with the climactic emergence of Kronos. The exception to this is the exceedingly silly sequence involving a cab ride with the three sisters with one eye (the Graeae according to Greek myth), which feels exactly like a silly piece of sub-par comedy taken from a late 1980s Tim Burton-inspired fantasy film like Second Sight (1989) or Ghost Dad (1990).
None of this better directorial polish disguises that Sea of Monsters is still eminently lightweight and forgettable you reach the end of the film and fail to feel that you have travelled through an epic journey with the characters as you did with most of the Harry Potter sequels. There is the half-hearted attempt to stitch Sea of Monsters up as part of an ongoing saga to come with the story arriving at an open ending about Percys destiny and the rise of the Titans but this feels weak and grafted on, not something the story is building to naturally. Indeed, the question to be asked about the ending is whether with the films underwhelming $14 million domestic box-office gross, there is any likelihood of seeing any further chapters of the saga.
The other noticeable thing about Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is that the film has scaled back on some of the big-name casting the likes of Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman and Sean Bean are replaced with the less high-profile Anthony Stewart Head and Stanley Tucci. The one appearing to be having the most fun is the fan favourite of Nathan Fillion as Hermes where he even gets Easter Egg jokes about a Hercules tv series naturally, being the best television series ever, they cancelled it after the first season, alluding to Fillions starring show and fanatical cult favourite Firefly (2002-3). Logan Lerman is back, although takes a backseat role for much of the film, while, as per last time, Alexandra Daddario gets to do very little, in fact ends up being out-acted by the much more lively new female cast member Leven Ramblin.