AMERICAN CULTURE treats its children like tiny idiots—so it's almost noteworthy when a kids' movie comes along that's slightly less bogglingly inane than the norm. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is the sequel to Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. It's not good, but it's not as terrible as most of what Hollywood churns out for your children: There are only two quip-happy CG animals. A connection to history and myth is drawn, however glancingly. No one audibly farts.
Percy Jackson is a reasonably successful film franchise based on an exceptionally successful book series, about a band of adolescents and their magical adventures. (Author Rick Riordan is the Dean Koontz to J.K. Rowling's Stephen King.)
Percy (Logan Lerman) is the half-blood son of Poseidon, king of the deep; he lives at a camp full of other children whose parents are ancient Greek gods. (Just go with it.) His best friend is a satyr, his brother is a handsome Cyclops, and approximate gender parity is achieved by way of a helpful blonde and an aggressive brunette who might as well have been air-lifted straight out of Riverdale. There is a plot, and a Draco-lookin' bad guy, and a rainbow seahorse thing whose shiny pretty scales are dimmed by utterly unnecessarily 3D. It's not terrible; it's just that no one involved is trying particularly hard.
The film's climactic scenes takes place in an amusement park, which is appropriate given Sea of Monsters' resemblance to a carnival ride: It follows a predictable track, and its thrills are parsimoniously doled out to provide an illusion of unpredictability that is, in fact, rigidly controlled. Your cart might plummet, a splash of water might soak your shirt, but you'll emerge unscathed, exactly where you expected to end up.