PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS

Rapturous! Magical! Maybe the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen all year! OK, now that my newspaper quotes are out of the way, I mean it: this is a joyously satisfying Saturday matinee experience. It has monsters, it has witches, and it has effects that, instead of hyper-realism or high-techery, harken back to the storybook-like creations of Ray Harryhausen, so appropriate for fantasy. At one point the backstory is narrated over a wondrously unique animation style that’s like stained glass windows come to dazzling life. And the backstory is well and clearly told, with just enough information to make what subsequently happens understandable (not to mention the kiss blown to the next installment at the end). Plus, it has Logan Lerman, who, while shading more to the sensitive side than what we expect of a sword-wielding warrior (call it LADYHAWKE Syndrome), at least only has to play half a god. There are a whole bunch of thrilling scenes, from a steampunk-ish metal monster fish to the whirlpool Charybdis to the rebirth of Kronos to the giant Cyclops Polyphemus — and worthy of special note: the boy Cyclops Tyson, played by Douglas Smith with both one eye and two at various points, and always engagingly. — Jeff Schultz

 

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