Sword fights are far more exciting than waving wands about, and Sea of Monsters has enough to suggest that the franchise is in no mood to give up yet, but Percy Jackson will always be a second rate Harry Potter.
After saving Olympus in the solid but rather unmemorable Lightning Thief, Percy (Lerman) has the problem all heroes do in sequels: what does one do now? Fortunately, he doesn't have to wait too long for an answer as hero-turned-villain Luke (Jake Abel) sets off for the Bermuda Triangle in search of the Golden Fleece to resurrect the evil titan Kronos, and Percy, together with half-brother and cyclops Tyson (Smith), Annabeth (Daddario) and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), hope to get there first.
Logan Lerman, he of the Lego hairstyle, has only convinced me once; as the insular teen in The Perks of Being A Wallflower he was wonderful, but the cocky hero types like D'Artagnan (The Three Musketeers) and bass-playing writer Lou (Stuck In Love) doesn't suit his doe-eyed innocent look. He just about manages to pull off Percy Jackson who seems to have a foot in both camps; he might be half-God, but the dyslexic kid has the self-doubt that one doesn't find in a sequel aimed at young teens - he's worried that his previous exploit was a fluke, that he doesn't feel like the person they say he is, that he won't match up to their hopes. Jake Abel runs Lerman close with his decent villain, taking things quite seriously indeed - just think Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys serious.
The reworking of Greek myths in a modern setting jars more often than not but Sea of Monsters works hard to link its many action sequences together, and writer Rick Riordan drums up the odd interesting environment for them to take place within, such as the belly of a sea monster (one of only two on show it has to be pointed out). It is a pity that between this and Wrath of the Titans no one yet has managed to do anything interesting with Kronos, however.
But Percy will always be compared to Harry and despite the depth of Greek myth to work with it comes up short, as J.K Rowling's universe feels more thought out and fascinating.