Here there be spoilers.
Last night I saw Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. I liked the first Percy Jackson film well enough. It’s undemanding stuff, but the source material, (by which I mean actual Greek myth, not the Percy Jackson books), is always interesting and Logan Lerman is likeable even at half capacity. So how does Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters stack up?
This film is so ridiculous that the titular ‘Sea of Monsters’ contains only one sea monster. It’s so ridiculous that I *think* the girl behind me was talking the whole way through, but I couldn’t tell for sure because the music never lets up, as if afraid that given a second to think the audience will realise just how ridiculous it is. It’s so ridiculous that 20 minutes into the film the list of ridiculous things had already grown so long that it hindered my ability to actually watch the film. It’s by rote filmmaking with stock characters in stock situations so heavily borrowed from other films that the characters and their motivations no longer reflect real human behaviour. In fact it’s so ridiculous that I can no longer talk about it in paragraph form. So without further ado, I present to you a list of everything that happened in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters that was ridiculous:
Note: This is only applicable to the Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters film, I’m not taking the books into account as the film should be able to stand on its own.
1. Despite an opening intro, no attempt is made to explain the powers, (if there any), of anyone who is not Percy Jackson. Considering the first movie was released in 2010 I could have used a refresher.
2. Camp Half-Blood is totally half-baked. Good luck figuring out; how many kids there are; what exactly the teachers do; how long it’s been established.
3. Champions are specifically chosen for the films driving mission of finding the Golden Fleece based on their combat abilities and strategic skills. Percy and his friends form a separate, unsanctioned mission team because.. Um.. No one knows. They just do, because they do.
4. There is no way these kids are a day under 23.
5. There’s a lovely animated exposition scene explaining Percy’s quest through stained glass, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Following the same type of scene in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Helllboy 2: The Golden Army, and even Kung Fu Panda 2, it doesn’t feel organic to the film but instead like whoever was in charge put the scene in there because that’s the part in a fantasy film where the charming animated scene goes. Stained glass, while a lovely visual choice, is also a strange thematic choice as it has F-all to do with Greek mythology.
6. There are so many walk and talk scenes that even Aaron Sorkin would say, ‘Okay enough’. Characters who were standing still or doing jobs prior to our protagonists arrival just stop what they are doing in order to walk purposefully forward while providing exposition. It’s like the director thought the only way to convey that they are on a quest was to have them physically moving forward at all times.
7. Logan Lerman’s eyebrows are wonderful.
8. Mist. Ugh. There is this magical potion called Mist that’s used to hide the fantastical from being seen by the outside world. It’s made clear that the main characters witness Tyson, the cyclops character and Percy’s half-brother, gain an extra eye as a result of the potion. Except they enter a coffee shop where their servers have extra arms and glowing eyes that the patrons can’t see, but which our protagonists clearly can. So what were these people using to keep themselves concealed? It can’t be Mist since that works on everyone. Is it a spell? Grover, the satyr character, uses crutches to get around the fact that even in jeans his legs clearly work differently than most peoples. Wouldn’t it be more convenient for him to use the Mist and do away with the crutches which are surely less convenient to him as an individual and them as a group than Tyson’s sunglasses which can easily be used to cover his one eye?
9. At one point Grover is accosted on a main street outside a busy coffee shop in broad daylight and pulled into one of those mythical film alleyways that make people 2 feet away magically unaware of what’s going on. The entire coffee shop sees a gang of young men attack a man with crutches and throw a young woman to the ground, but no one even looks mildly interested. Why even bother concealing the fantastical world if no one gives a fuck about it anyway?
10. Except when Tyson loudly proclaims the Capitol building to be Olympus. Then every extra – I mean, ‘person’ – stares suspiciously at them. Why? Because they are the main characters and the script calls for it, that’s why.
11. Oh my God I’m not even halfway through this list.
12. The bad guy, Luke, is hilariously wooden. At one point he delivers a speech about vengeance with a totally straight face. To a casket. He also tries to convince Percy to join his cause, in what must surely be a bluff because he has never shown any interest in the idea up until then, and Percy claims to be tempted on account of his self-doubt issues. You know, the issues he’s specifically outlined by saying out loud, ‘I doubt myself,’ and which haven’t actually affected his actions or personality in any way. Imagine the horror of self-doubt so high that you form your own kamikaze team to complete a mission that already has a perfectly good team assigned to it.
13. This bothers me in a lot of films but when the good guys are being physically held back by the bad guys, it’s SO OBVIOUS they’re not really holding them back.
14. No seriously, stop mentioning that Percy is a good few years under 20. I’m not buying that any of the cast don’t have mortgages.
15. Back to Mist, the Deus Ex Machina that Deusn’t; none of the cyclops have any problems with depth perception, yet Annabeth still makes a crack about it. How is this related to Mist? I was rooting for the film hard enough that I actually tried to make a case that Tyson’s fine ability to judge distances was based on his temporary eye, but since none of the other cyclops have trouble with distances and it’s previously been addressed that the effects of Mist are an illusion, that means he judges distances just fine with just the one eye. Proving once again that Mist is totally pointless.
16. Multiple times a character will say in whispered tones, ‘We’ll find Grover’, as though any of the characters were acting like they gave a fuck.
17. Annabeth is racist as fuck towards cyclops, yet every time she doles out an insult to the very sweet Tyson no one questions her on it. I was thinking the whole time it was because she’s supposed to be the Hermione of the group so at some point we would find out she’d read about them right? Nope, it’s due to a past experience, yet when Percy asks her why she never told him she says, ‘I don’t like to talk about it.’ Except for EVERY TIME YOU WENT OUT OF YOUR WAY TO PUBLICLY DEMEAN TYSON WHO AS FAR AS WE AND THE OTHER CHARACTERS CAN SEE HAS GIVEN YOU NO REASON NOT TO TRUST HIM. But do any of the characters take her aside and point out that she’s being a real dick towards a friendly and that unless she can give them a concrete reason for her behaviour she can kindly shut up with her racist comments? No. She says something racist, they ignore it until the appropriate time for flashbacks.
18. I hope Leven Rambin and Douglas Smith were well paid for this film because they’re easily the best thing about it and the only characters who got any audience response.
19. Except Nathan Fillion who gets to wear a traumatised look as he says that all the best TV shows get cancelled. HA!
20. They encounter a beast called a hippocampus which is a kind of sea horse – you can tell because aside from it’s colouring the head is clearly modelled on a horse. Despite living in the sea. It’s eyes are horse eyes. It’s neck is a horse neck. Like every other design in the film it’s so literal, so obvious that it really cheapens the whole thing. Anthony Stewart Head as a centaur is Anthony Stewart Head’s torso on a horse body. The design has the added bonus that he always looks like he’s about to tip over. The bad guys have a minion who’s a large muscly guy painted green. No one misses an opportunity to say, ‘Oh my gods,’ or, ‘Damn you straight to Hades!’ The only thing that isn’t literal is the title.
21. Despite riding this hippocampus a fair distance with their legs calf deep in water the protagonists arrive at their destination bone-dry. If I get soaked every time I ride a log flume there is no way these kids got on to that yacht without falling over and waiting for their shoes to dry for the next 6 hours.
22. That IS a nice boat.
23. Percy is the de facto leader of his team for no discernible reason, but it does lead to one great moment when they’ve been captured and Annabeth asks him what they’re going to do. He replies, ‘I never called him brother,’ and proceeds to have a small meltdown over Tyson’s, ‘death’. It is hysterical only because I began to play an alternate scene in my head where Annabeth – up until this point the most effective member of the team – realises he’s useless to them and cuts the others free leaving him behind to mutter incoherently to himself.
24. The abandoned amusement park showdown is nice, mainly because it reminded me of how excited I am for Divergent.
25. The sea healed Tyson? But Zeus couldn’t heal Thalia? The sea healed him when you already have a magical healing device in your movie and had absolutely no need to introduce this bizarre plot element?
26. Early in the film Nathan Fillion, (I refuse to call him Hermes), says he bought something from, ‘deity-bay,’ and I have repeated it to myself approximately 100 times since.
27. After Percy figures out a plot point that was foretold to him by three sisters we flash over to those characters knowing he’s done so. They are psychic enough to know this is happening yet not psychic enough to know the kids couldn’t afford the cab fare. There is no point whatsoever to this scene.
28. I’m not a fan of nearly anything that happens to Grover in this film. He’s kidnapped early on for no real reason, (ostensibly they need satyrs to find the fleece, except for how they really don’t). I hate to say anything to enforce the negative stereotype that cross-dressing is inherently funny; I think it’s damaging and especially so in a film aimed at young audiences. They’ll have plenty of time to learn prejudices when they’re older, give them those few precious years when a man in a dress isn’t automatically humiliating because the state of being a woman is itself inherently humiliating thus demeaning women and cross-dressers. No? You’re going to play it for laughs? Okay. Should I even point out that he’s the only prominent black character in the film? I shouldn’t? Okay then. I’ll just go back to repeating, ‘deity-bay.’
29. The film actually has some lovely visuals. There’s a rainbow motif that I can only assume is there to appeal to young children; the hippocampus is rainbowed, the sparks bringing Kronos back to life are rainbowed, and the, (singular), sea monster’s gut is rainbowed. The monster’s gut in particular is GORGEOUS. It has stained glass flesh like an iridescent fish, and it’s cavernous belly is like a cathedral. It’s really, really beautiful, and it’s inevitably interrupted by an encounter with confederate zombies. Because of course.
30. The other characters deference to Percy makes no sense; at the very end an event unfolds which sees Annabeth and Grover run yelling for Percy. It’s established that the other kids at Camp Half Blood have no particular respect for him yet they all stand back as Percy approaches – for no reason, it has more emotional and personal resonance for Annabeth – because, well he’s the main character.
31. Employing the, ‘If you don’t like your destiny then write a new one,’ trope would have more of an impact if Percy writing his new destiny didn’t just equate to his stabbing something real hard.
32. Thalia comes back to life thanks to the Golden Fleece, but she’s now the same age as Percy and the others despite having died around age 10. What?! So if the Golden Fleece was placed on the bones of a 60 year old who died ten years ago, they would come back aged 70? Or 100 years later, would they come back 160 and promptly die again?
33. The ending is so abrupt, like they just ran out of things to sa-
40. God I’m excited for Divergent.