Percy Jackson: The Experts Speak

Yes, this is the point in the summer when I outsource my critical judgment to my kids. Plus: bonus Smurfs coverage.
20th Century Fox

So, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.

Based on the second installment of Rick Riordan's series of novels (think Harry Potter knockoff with a dusting of Greek mythology), the sequel to 2010's The Lightning Thief picks up where its predecessor left off. Our trio of teenage protagonists Harry, Hermione, and Ron Percy, Annabeth, and Grover are busily honing their superhuman skills at their home away from home, Hogwarts Camp Halfblood, a secret sanctuary where wizards demigods are safe from the prying eyes of ordinary folk.

But trouble, of course, is brewing. Thalia's Tree, which protects Camp Halfblood from invading monsters, has been poisoned, and the only hope for a cure is the Golden Fleece, hidden away in the "Sea of Monsters." (That's the Bermuda Triangle to you and me.) So our young heroes, joined by Percy's comical half-brother, a Cyclops named Tyson, set out to...

Oh, who am I kidding. It's that point in the summer again, when I'm at a complete loss for anything useful to say about a kid's movie sequel that doesn't aspire to be anything more than a kid's movie sequel. So I'm using my once-a-year lifeline and calling in the genuine experts: Alex (as in Alexandra), who turned eight yesterday, and Tom, who turns 10 in a week and a half (and has usefully read all the Percy Jackson books multiple times).

They grow up so fast! The last time I consulted Alex and Tom it was for Ice Age: Continental Drift. The next time it will probably be for a Lars von Trier film. In any case, this is where those of you who are uninterested in preadolescent movie criticism should probably bail.

(At Alex's request, Tom answered most of the questions first.)

If you had to describe the new Percy Jackson movie in one word, what would it be?

Tom: I would describe it as either exciting, awesome, or kind of brilliant, because I think it was very well set up.

As good as the first movie, or better?

Tom: A lot better than the first movie. It just seemed that the first movie didn't have as much happening in it. The second movie is like--boom, pow--it starts out with a really big thing, when they're showing--

Alex: A backstory. [ed. No, I had no idea she knew this word.]

Tom: ...a backstory about how Thalia became a tree and guarded the camp.

What about you, Alex?

Alex: I think it's better than the first because it's more exciting, and it has a lot more action all the way through.

What was your favorite part of the movie?

Tom: Either when Percy was blowing a hole in Charybdis's gut, or when he was slicing off Kronos's limbs. [My son, future Tarantino aficionado.] They left out a couple parts of the book but they also added some new parts. All in all, I think it was a little better than the book.

Alex: I think my favorite part was probably the prologue [nope, didn't know she knew this one either] with Thalia. I usually like kind of sad parts, and it's like she's giving her life to save three others.

Who was your favorite character?

Alex: Probably Thalia, even though she didn't have that big a role.

Tom: I liked Tyson best, far and away. He dealt with Annabeth's being mean to him--he just, like, shrugged it off. He was hard to kill, but it was also hard for his feelings to be hurt. And he would not give up on Percy and his friends.

He had a lot of jokey parts, too.

"I found the manticore very scary."

Tom: Yeah, I liked it when he was like, "Bad cow"--punch. [This was during a fight with the Colchis Bull.] And I liked when Tyson is in the boat, holding the magical wind container and the boat is flying along, and then the boat suddenly stops and Annabeth's like, why did we stop, and Tyson comes back empty handed and says, "I probably should have held on with both hands."

Presented by

Christopher Orr is a senior editor and the principal film critic at The Atlantic. He has written on movies for The New Republic, LA Weekly, Salon, and The New York Sun, and has worked as an editor for numerous publications.

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