Demi-gods embark on a perilous quest to locate the mythical Golden Fleece in the action-packed sequel to the 2010 fantasy adventure.
Thor Freudenthal may have replaced Chris Columbus in the director’s chair but this second chapter in the series, based on the book by Rick Riordan, doesn’t stray too far from the template of the original, re-imagining Greek mythology through the eyes of gung-ho teenage protagonists.
All of the original cast return and effortlessly slip back into their roles including Lerman as the likeable hero and Brandon T Jackson as his wise-cracking sidekick.
Some of the emotional heft of the first instalment, which benefited from deeper characterisation, are lacking and one set piece in a Chariot Of Damnation (aka a New York City yellow cab driven by three blind witches) has strong echoes of The Knight Bus from Harry Potter.
However, youngsters who whooped and cheered at the monster-slaying back in 2010 will find plenty of reasons to do the same here.
Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), son of Poseidon, is protected from harm at Camp Half-Blood by a mighty tree, which took root on the spot where Thalia (Paloma Kwiatkowski), daughter of Zeus, gave her life to protect three friends. The tree generates an invisible forcefield that repels evil, allowing only the chosen ones to enter.
In the aftermath of a tournament, a gargantuan bronze bull smashes the forcefield and rampages through the camp almost killing Percy.
Dionysus (Stanley Tucci) and centaur Chiron (Anthony Head) rush to Thalia’s tree and discover someone has poured poison into the bark, leaving the camp open to further attacks.
The only artefact which can restore the tree, is the Golden Fleece but this precious item lurks within the Sea of Monsters, otherwise known as the Bermuda Triangle.
Clarisse (Leven Rambin), boastful daughter of Ares, is chosen to lead the quest to retrieve the fleece. However, an ancient prophecy suggests that Percy might be destined to successfully navigate the Sea of Monsters so he leads a separate mission in the company of best friend Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), daughter of Athena, sassy satyr Grover (Brandon T Jackson) and his clumsy cyclops half-brother, Tyson (Douglas Smith).
“I think the politically correct term is ocularly challenged,” quips Grover.
‘Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters’ will appeal to young adults, striking a pleasing balance between action and comedy, with hints of a burgeoning romance.
Action sequences are competently executed and director Freudenthal gives the special effects team full reign in the final showdown, that clearly nods to ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’.
It’s hard to imagine audiences flocking to this second film in sufficient numbers to warrant an adaptation of the third book, ‘The Titan’s Curse’.
But if the deplorable ‘Scary Movie’ can churn out five helpings with a sixth on the way, anything is possible.
Star Rating: 2½