'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' light and engaging

Film: "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters"; Cast: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Douglas Smith, Leven Rambin, Brandon T. Jackson and Jake Abel; Director: Thor Freudenthal; Rating: **1/2

Set in Greek mythology, "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" is the second film adapted from Rick Riordan's book series "Percy Jackson and the Olympian". It is a light adventure film with degrees of magic, mystery, romance and comedy.

The film begins with a foreword stating that the Greek gods had many children, some of whom were half humans who were easy to terrorise. The prelude features four kids - half human children of the Greek gods being pursued by some evil monsters. The kids escape into a forested island, "where the half-bloods camp" is, till Thalia Grace, daughter of Zeus, confronts the pursuer so that the other three may reach to safety. Thalia is killed and her father uses her body to erect an invisible barrier that will shield "Camp Half-Blood' and its inhabitants from further invasion.

Years later, the kids are now young adults and 'Camp Half Blood' is reminiscent of an American style University Campus with competitive games et al.

One fine day, the barrier that protects the camp is breached by a fire-breathing monster that resembles a devilishly looking destructive mechanical bull. Now the lives of all its inhabitants at 'Camp-Half Blood' are at peril. The only thing that can save them is the famed 'Golden Fleece', which is adorned by a Cyclops who lives on an island in the Sea of Monsters, known to humans as the Bermuda Triangle.

The aggressive, Clarisse (Leven Rambin), the daughter of Ares, the god of War, is assigned by the camp director, to retrieve the 'Golden Fleece'.

But according to legend and a dream that Percy, son of Poseidon had - the oracle hints that one of the two cousins could retrieve the fleece. But Percy is not too confident.

Coaxed by his friends; fellow demi-god Annabeth and satyr Grover and encouraged by, "If you are worried of your destiny then you write a new one", Percy takes the lead. Albeit, unofficially. He is accompanied by Tyson, a Cyclops, who happens to be his half-brother.

Also chasing the fleece is Luke, son of Hermes and his coterie.

So, the three teams venture to outsmart and excel rivals and enemies as they go.

All the young actors deliver. Logan Lerman as Percy is charming, but he lacks the charisma or the screen presence of a hero. And the fault does not lie in him, but in the script as he does not have any awe-striking moments.

The film has high production value. Also, the cinematography by Shelly Johnson and editing by Mark Goldblatt are worth a mention.

Director Thor Fredenthal steers the action sequences competently enough. But unfortunately, the script, which is a fusion of ancient myth and modern teen fantasy, seems ham-fisted and forced. The use and reference of a camera on the mobile phone seems out of place in the mise-en-scene. So, also the sudden association of Clarisse with a group zombies, seemed like an obligatory enhancement that was uncalled for.

Overall, the monsters in the film are staid and sedate. Likewise, the conflicts and plot points in the film are not challenging and awe-inspiring. Nevertheless the film is engaging.

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