The second of the Greek myth/Californian teen crossover series finds Percy Jackson (Lerman) tasked with locating the Golden Fleece and preventing his irked rival Luke (Jake Abel) from freeing the Titan Kronos and thus unleashing vast amounts of CG upon the world...
Having fretted he will amount to no more than a “one quest wonder”, Percy Jackson (Lerman) — offspring of Poseidon, regular teen, heart of gold — discovers from the Oracle of Delphi (found in Stanley Tucci’s attic) that he is yet destined to save Olympus or destroy it. A couple of heart to hearts later, when his summer camp of mythological misfits comes under attack from a teen outcast (apparently, he was in film one), the boy wizard, sorry, boy demi-god must cast off for the Sea of Monsters to steal the Golden Fleece from decently-computerised cyclopean grouch Polyphemus and fulfil his destiny one way or the other (although, it’s hard to muster the concern). He must also learn to bond with his newly arrived half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith) who is also a Cyclops, only more conventionally teen-sized who wears shades for much of the time to take the pressure off the effects budget.
The biggest challenge confronting this second episode in the franchise smoothie, based on the novels of Rick Riordan, which blends the B.C. with the O.C. is to overcome its general aroma of pointlessness. There is nothing inept, nothing garbled about Thor Freudenthal’s storytelling, it’s just so flavourless and derivative there’s nothing much to recommend about it either. Lerman is a bright, likeable presence, but his emotional development is mapped out by the next phalanx of CGI beasties, and he might as well be reading his lines from a chalkboard. All his array of perky teen sidekicks — rosebud cheeks, snow-white teeth, Stepford smiles — can offer to the charge of playful modernity is squeal, “Oh no he DIDUNT ” when Percy rocks some heroics.
Jackson and his fellow “half-bloods” amount to no more than a covers band for other franchises: teen rivals competing for glory (The Hunger Games), a boat crewed by the undead (Pirates Of The Caribbean), a disused theme-park showdown (Scooby-Doo), and a giant ark containing ancient evil (no guesses). It is, at least, better than Wrath Of The Titans, which possesses the identical plot.
Everything else is, quite unashamedly, lifted from Harry Potter. The most daring thing about Percy 2 is how brazen it is about this. Just in the basics, we have Lerman, the reluctant hero; Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth, the clever one; and Brandon T. Jackson as Grover, the funny one (he’s a satyr with attitude). Together destined to save a school of magic. Meanwhile on staff, Tucci is a muddled Dionysus, Anthony Head takes over from Pierce Brosnan in fronting for a horse’s arse as the centaur Chiron, and Nathan Fillion plays Hermes, wittily managing a UPS depot. Everyone else — villains, heroes, muggles — is adolescent, which lends the film a peculiar tension between the characters’ adolescent identity crises (although their godly hormones never run to the stirring of loins) and the inherently child-orientated concept of a Greek hero in sneakers.
The CG does its part of the bargain, but even more than the brighter, breezier original this is a pale imitation of Potter.