DVD Release Date: December 17, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: August 7, 2013
Rating: PG (for fantasy action violence, some scary images and mild language)
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy/Sequel
Run Time: 106 min.
Director: Thor Freudenthal
Cast: Logan Lerman, Alexandria Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson, Douglas Smith, Leven Rambin, Jake Abel, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion, Paloma Kwiatkowski

Let's face it: It's not exactly easy to wow the masses when you're constantly being compared to a series as universally loved as Harry Potter.

But with its fun, modern spin on mythology, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, based on the best-selling children's books by Rick Riordan, managed to beat the odds. A modest hit in theaters nearly three years ago, the clever, fast-paced plotting not only kept the viewer guessing, but The Lightning Thief was also packed with relatable characters, especially Percy as the misfit kid who learns he’s the son of Poseidon. Talk about having daddy issues.

Unfortunately, most of what made The Lightning Thief such an unexpected delight is curiously absent from Percy's latest chapter, Sea of Monsters. Not only is the second installment jam-packed with banal CGI fighting that's become far too commonplace in modern cinema, but without a cursory knowledge of the characters' respective backstories, any newcomer to this series would be completely lost.

Now that I think about it, even someone familiar with the particulars of Percy's world won't fare much better. For whatever reason, the filmmakers didn't bother with the "tedious" art of character development, so the audience is never given much of a reason to care about Percy (Logan Lerman, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) or his fellow half-bloods Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario, Hall Pass), Clarisse (Leven Rambin, Chasing Mavericks) and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson, Tropic Thunder), or their quest for survival.

Right from the start the film is all business: Camp Half-Blood, the place where extraordinary demigods like Percy find refuge from the naysayers and camaraderie in being "different," is in danger. When the mystical tree that provides protection from dangerous outside forces begins to die because of Luke (Jake AbelThe Host) the no-good son of Hermes (Nathan Fillion, Much Ado About Nothing), Percy and his cohorts are immediately tasked with finding the mythical Golden Fleece, which apparently restores safety to their wooded home.