The 5 Percy Jackson & the Olympians novels are written by Rick Riordan with the first one being published in 2005. They center around Percy Jackson, a teenager who finds out he is the son of Poseidon, god of the sea. He moves to Camp Half-Blood where other demi-gods are raised, since apparently Greek gods love having kids, but then never communicate with them. Percy makes friends and ends up going on some epic adventures. It is very similar to the Harry Potter series. The first book, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief was turned into a movie in 2010, and was directed by Chris Colombus, who had directed some Harry Potter films.
It was light and fun and starred Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, and Alexandra Daddario, and some fun small roles for big time actors. They each had one or very few scenes, making their appearances almost cameos. Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan, Steve Coogan, Rosario Dawson, Melina Kanakaredes, and Kevin McKidd all played supernatural beings, while Catherine Keener played Percy’s mom. The movie, while being a mild success here, was a huge success overseas, allowing for the second book to be made into a movie.
The second movie is directed by Thor Freundenthal (who, as opposed to being a Viking, which is what you assumed he was when you read that name, is actually a director of kids movies, including Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Hotel for Dogs) finds Percy still living at Camp Half-Blood, and still hanging with Grover, the satyr, and Annabeth (daughter of Athena). Things are going fairly well, except that everyone at the camp seems to think that Percy’s success in finding the Lightning Thief last time was a fluke and he’s locked in a bit of a popularity contest with Clarisse, the daughter of Ares. Suddenly, the magic barrier protecting the camp (sustained by Thalia’s tree – a tree that is growing out of the fallen body of Zues’s daughter Thalia) has come under attack, poisoned. This means that various monsters can now attack the camp. The decision is made to send a group on a quest to find the Golden Fleece (which is lost in the Sea of Monsters – what humans call the Bermuda Triangle). The group is Clarisse and her cronies, not Percy and his crew. Percy and his pals take off after the fleece anyway, and encounter some craziness along the way; including Hermes, giant sea monsters, and a Cyclops with Ron Perlman’s voice.
Much of the cast from the first movie is back – at least on the kid end of the scale.
- Logan Lerman returns as Percy, proving he won’t get swept up in only being in indie movies like Perks of Being a Wallflower. After all, he was the gamer in Gamer, and the son in the newest 3:10 to Yuma. He’s good in this, charming and engaging.
- Alexandra Daddario is back as Annabeth, and while I know her best as “Kate” from White Collar, she has done some other things. She’s pretty and capable. She does a good job being prejudiced against cyclopses (cyclopsi?) in this movie, until she learns that they are not all bloodthirsty killers.
- Brandon T. Jackson returns as Gover the Satyr. I’m still not clear on why he uses crutches when in his human disguise, and he does get kidnapped pretty easily. Jackson is all charm all the time and easily one of the most watchable pieces of this movie.
- Jake Abel again plays Luke, the villainous son of Hermes – spoilers, he was the Lightning Thief in the previous story. He’s very angular, and comes off as very angry – but his reasons for being angry are never really explained well, I think he’s just upset his father won’t talk to him. Maybe if I read the books that’s explained better. Well, in this movie he’s got a yacht, and some scary pets in his own personal quest to raise Cronos, the king of the Titans, and father of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades (that’s the exact same thing Ares was attempting to do in the Wrath of the Titans).
- Leven Rambin is new as Clarisse, bossy, bitchy, and completely full of herself. That is exactly what you would expect from the daughter of the god of war, so well-done on her part.
- Anthony Stewart Head steps in as Chiron, who he plays as basically Giles as a Centaur. No complaints on that, that is what you want to see him do. At no point does he sing.
- Stanley Tucci plays Mr. D who is really Dionysus, the greek god of wine, who is apparently on punishment from Zeus and forced to run the camp. He’s fun, and throws a bit of the old Tucci charm into a small role. I did enjoy that his curse is that he can no longer enjoy wine, every time he pours it – it turns to water; prompting him to say to someone, “You know, the Christians have a guy who can do this trick in reverse.” Clever and very funny!
- Douglas Smith plays Tyson, Percy’s suddenly discovered Cyclops half-brother. The CGI one eye is pretty effective, and very creepy. I did enjoy his jovial attitude towards just about everything.
- Nathan Fillion is in this movie very briefly and steals the one scene that he is in. He plays Hermes, and has a staff with two snakes voiced by Octavia Spencer and Craig Robinson. He also is running a UPS-like store for transportation of things here and there. He really seems to enjoy his bit of business and adds a brightness to the center of the film.
All in all the movie is not going to win any awards, but it’s certainly entertaining. I have always found Greek Mythology fascinating, and this is a really clever way to re-invigorate these characters. I really enjoyed the first movie, and I really enjoyed this one too. A simple story, some fun effects, and some good performances – a fun movie.
7 out of 10. Gained points for Ron Perlman, even if it was just his voice. Lost points for that crazy spinning obstacle course thing the kids have to do – that cannot be safe. Gained points for the crazy big sea monster. Lost points for Clarisse piloting a confederate warship. Gained points for the three Stygian Witches (Mary Birdsong, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Missie Pyle) driving a cab with their one eye.
Bonus Video 1: Brandon T. Jackson in Tropic Thunder – remember, it’s his performance that helps to ground RDJ’s crazy.
Bonus Video 2: Logan Lerman was D’Artangnan in this version of the Three Musketeers (which was not as good as the one with Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, and Oliver Platt.
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews