Entire family: Yes
2013, 106 min., Color
Rated PG for fantasy action violence, some scary images and mild language
20th Century Fox
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Featured audio: DTS-HD MA 7.1
Includes Blu-ray, DVD, DigitalHD
Bonus features: D+
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is a good special effects family movie that’s every bit as accomplished as The Lightning Thief and possibly better—even if it doesn’t follow the Rick Riordan juvenile fantasy novels like a road map.
My teenage son has read every one of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books, and as our family watched Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the sequel to the 2010 fantasy-adventure Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, he couldn’t contain himself. He offered a running commentary:
“It’s like they compressed the next three books into one movie.”
“None of this was in the books.”
“This WAS in the books, and it’s actually handled pretty well.”
“I like the way the manticore moves. It’s really realistic.”
“The CGI in this movie is much better than the first one.”
And so on.
His final assessment surprised me, partly because he had seen the trailer and pronounced it “dumb,” and partly because many fans of the books had pretty much washed their hands of the movies because of how much they strayed from the texts. But my son decided it was “better than the first one, with better special effects.” Even though it wasn’t exactly faithful to the books, he felt it was “still good.” If he had give it a grade, he said he’d award it a B+ or A-, because it was action-packed, the CGI effects were great, and the pacing was good. My pre-teen daughter agreed, even though she hadn’t read the books. So did my wife.
So who needs a movie critic? I came to the same conclusions, though I did find fault with some of the CGI effects. For me, the visual shortcomings were the forehead and eye design of Percy’s half-brother, the cyclops Tyson (Douglas Smith)—which looked smeared with Vaseline in medium shots—and Percy (Logan Lerman) and his friends’ descent into the toothy vortex of a sea monster, which also was less than realistic. Everything else—and that includes some pretty fantastic creatures and water effects—looks convincing, and in truth it’s the visual effects that propel the film. More