2010’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” (aka “Percy Jackson and the Overly-Long Title”) was a pretty forgettable children’s adventure that had a few fun moments, but overall tried to be too much of a road movie when it should have been concentrating on the characters and the excitement of their quest. Nobody was really clambering for a sequel, but that didn’t stop the studio from moving full steam ahead with adapting the series of supposedly popular books (To this day I still have not met anyone who’s read any of them).
This second outing finds our heroes, Percy (Logan Lerman), Annabeth (Alexandra Diddario), and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), getting on with their lives at Camp Half-Blood. One day, a Cyclops named Tyson (Douglas Smith) strolls in, claiming to be the son of Poseidon, which makes him Percy’s brother. While Percy is trying to get used to this idea, the camp is attacked by a bull that somehow smashes through the magical barrier that defends it. Afterward, it is discovered that a special tree, the barrier’s source, has been poisoned and must be cured if their defense is to be reestablished. The daughter of Mars, Clarisse (Leven Rambin), is chosen to go on a quest for the mystical Golden Fleece despite the idea being Annabeth’s. However, this doesn’t stop Percy and his friends from setting out on a quest of their own to help save their home and potentially Mount Olympus.
With sequels of this type, we tend to see the stakes raised and the action increased to even more exciting levels than before, but for “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” (yes, they learned from that first title), things are pretty much the same, but somehow made even blander than before. The first film had gotten stuck in a bit of a rut as our characters traveled to several different spots to collect items, which basically put the plot on hold as we waited for them to do so. This time around, our heroes go through a series of unfortunate events as they proceed on their quest that should be rather exciting, but end up feeling like yet another measure of stalling before we get to the main confrontation.
The plot even has Percy and his companions traveling to a yacht in the middle of the ocean in an attempt to rescue one of their friends. On this yacht is an old acquaintance, Luke (Jake Abel), a leader of a gang of psychopaths that want to resurrect a destructive god. Apparently Luke doesn’t remember Percy (son of Poseidon) very well, what with his choice of venue being the ocean. You can really only shake your head as you watch Percy escape by riding a giant wave. However, right after this, the gang finds themselves in another pickle when they get swallowed up by a giant sea creature, where they happen to run into Clarisse, who is captaining a ship crewed by zombies. This might have worked well as a distracting obstacle, but it ends up as just another plain distraction as we wait for the plot to get a move on.
Perhaps these films are just too restricted by their PG rating. Those who fall under such a rating might be entertained by at least some of it, but everyone else is going to find themselves getting bored pretty quickly at the monotonous series of dangers that our heroes face on their way to the big showdown (which ends up being disappointingly small for what’s at stake). If there are to be more of these films, we can only hope that they’ll use the first two as a learning experience. The narrative should be allowed to flow without it feeling like an endless series of distractions. These are likeable enough characters, it’s just a shame you won’t remember them five minutes after the film is over.
“Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1, 1080p transfer of top-notch quality. The picture is sharp and clear with bright, vibrant colors and no noticeable fuzziness. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is fantastic. Every little sound, from the dialogue to sound effects to the score, comes through loud and clear. All audio is mixed at perfect levels, making for an all-around optimal experience.
Tyson Motion Comic: A semi-interesting short about what happens to Tyson prior to coming to Camp Half-Blood, but rather unnecessary given that he tells us about his experience in the film.
Deconstructing a Demigod: A brief featurette featuring snippets of interviews with cast and crew as they discuss the film. Easily skipable given that it doesn’t go into any depth.
Back to Camp Half-Blood: Another very brief featurette that mainly features interviews with the cast talking about what it was like to work together on the film. Another easily skipable extra.
It’s All in the Eye: A five-minute look behind the scenes at the creation of the character Tyson, including the casting, costuming, and visual effects. Given that this is the only extra on the disc that explores that making of the film in any depth, it’s really the only one worth watching.
With a nearly-worthless collection of extras and a film that’s even more forgettable than its predecessor, “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” on Blu-ray doesn’t even come close to getting a recommendation. What’s somewhat annoying though is that, if that last featurette was any indication, there was apparently a lot to be said about the making of the film. There were a lot more characters and visual effects to discuss, so why not include more extras of a similar nature? At the very least, you do get the film in excellent video/audio quality, so should you decide to pursue it anyway, you’ll be seeing it in the best format possible. Just don’t expect much from any other area of the disc.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: Elysium, The Hunt, Touchy Feely, The Rooftop, Drinking Buddies, Inpractical Jokers: Season One, Planes, Paranoia, The To Do List, Blackfish, Paradise, White House Down, Grown Ups 2, Girl Most Likely, Robotech: The Complete Set, The Way, Way Back
Now playing in theaters: Saving Mr. Banks, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Out of the Furnace, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Dallas Buyers Club, Thor: The Dark World, Ender's Game, Carrie, Kill Your Darlings, Gravity, Argento's Dracula, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Despicable Me 2
Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.