GENRE: Tween fantasy
THE PITCH: To save their home away from home, Camp Half-Blood, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) embark on a quest to find the ancient, lost Golden Fleece. Jackson and his crew of demigods and creatures must recover the artifact before Luke (Jake Abel) can use it to revive the Titan lord Kronos. Based on the second book of the Percy Jackson series and a sequel to The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.
MONEY SHOT: A rampant Colchis Bull - a fire-breathing, bronze bull roughly the size of an adult elephant, destroys the longstanding mystic barrier protecting the camp. The demigods spring into action wielding spears, swords, and axes to stop it. After the camp fave Clarisse (Leven Rambin) is thrown, Percy and his brother Tyson (Douglas Smith) attempt to tackle the beast.
BEST LINE: Zeus not only banished the god of wine Dionysus (Stanley Tucci) to Camp Half-Blood, but he took away his ability to enjoy wine. Whenever "Mr. D" tries to enjoy a glass of vino, it magically transforms to water. Discussing camp matters with Chiron (Anthony Head) in his office he jokes, "You know Christians have a guy who can do this in reverse."
NO SERENITY FOR BROWNCOATS: Nathan Fillion may have moved on from the cancelled, cult series Firefly but apparently writer Marc Guggenheim has not. Hermes (Fillion) gives the demigods a gift to aid in their quest, a Hercules thermos. The kids look confused, but he laments, "Best TV show ever, but of course cancelled."
LIBERAL STANCE: Tyson mistakes Capitol Hill for Mount Olympus home of the Gods. Grover corrects him and jabs the power hungry establishment, "Right down to the guys who are obsessed with power."
CHARACTER STUDY: Been a while since your high school Greek mythological class? Here's a primer of creatures you'll encounter in this film. The Charybdis, a large sea monster that creates whirlpools; hippocami, the ultimate sea horse; a Manticore, a creature that's part lion and part scorpion; and Polyphemus, a bad-assed Cyclops.
BOTTOM LINE: The Percy Jackson series gets a needed boost, practically a reboot with the second film in the series. This is mostly due to an energized screenplay from Marc Guggenheim whose experience with hero-based television series and video games balances the darker tone of the story with wit and well-paced action. Director Thor Freudenthal strips away the tongue and cheek demigod reality of The Lightning Thief and emphasizes the mortal, human side of the central characters overcoming universal teenage themes in a supernatural reality. Fans of Riordan's series will embrace the older, cynical Jackson since his demeanor throughout mirrors his struggles in the book. But expect some chatter as characters, and scenes are given a contemporary update. Overall, Sea of Monsters is a fun, action fueled film for Percy Jackson fans and fantasy film lovers.