Going in to Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, it’s easy to be wary. I am, after all, not an 11-year old boy (or girl), and it’s pedigree is particularly cringe-worthy. Directed by the guy who brought us Diary of a Wimpy Kid (the atrocious first one) and written by the fella behind ridiculously bad Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds, well… what’s there to look forward to?

Quite a bit, as it turns out.

While it won’t end up on anyone’s Top 10 list (anyone who’s graduated middle school, anyway), Sea of Monsters is a surprisingly entertaining movie, with a script that’s actually better than average. And though it doesn’t showcase star Logan Lerman anywhere near as well as the excellent The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it still proves the kid’s got a future.

As we learned from the first movie, Percy is the offspring of Poseidon and a human woman. Sea of Monsters opens with him hanging out with similarly-lineaged kids at Camp Half-Blood when an evil robotic bull breaks through the camp’s protective force field. Percy quickly learns that it’s the work of Luke (Jake Abel), the evil kid from the first movie who’s now back to wreak more havoc.

Still hell-bent on destroying Mount Olympus (and all its inhabitants), Luke is working on a plan to raise super-bad Kronos from the dead, and it’s up to Percy and his buddies Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), and newly found half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith) to save the day.

Along the way director Thor Freudenthal relies heavily on some pretty snazzy visual effects, from a rainbow-colored horse-fish to the inside of Charybdis’ cavernous stomach and, of course, all kinds of nifty waves and sea storms. But the movie isn’t just a superficial grab for tweens’ attentions. The script by Marc Guggenheim is pleasantly laced with all kinds of witty one-liners and cameos that accompanying parents will get a kick out of. Both Stanley Tucci (as Dionysus) and Nathan Fillion (as Hermes) turn in performances that will soar way over the heads of the target audience but are both instant contenders for cameos of the year (if there was such a thing).

There’s no reason whatsoever for adults to see Sea of Monsters on their own, but if your kid should happen to ask you to tag along, don’t fret. You could do a lot worse.

3.5/5 stars