By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)

I may not fall into the target demographic for the Percy Jackson series, but I am a kid at heart and I do enjoy fantasy, science fiction and mythology.  As for this latest pre-teen friendly movie series, based on the popular books for the same age group, so far both films have left me flat and bored. The first film, Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief, has a certain amount of entertainment value, but felt like a “by the numbers” mythology update. It didn’t really help that the writers loaded the script with lame humor mainly consisting of riffs on the mythology that inspires it. As for the sequel, I can only say that the filmmakers present more of the same, but perhaps too much more of the same. While the film, with its striking visuals, will probably appeal to its target audience, I doubt it will impress teens and adults.

Since the events of the first film, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), the demigod son of Poseidon, continues his training at Camp Half-Blood.  As he struggles through his rigorous physical challenges, Percy begins to doubt his heritage. Adding to his trouble, rival Clarisse Le Rue (Leven Rambin) has no problem using Percy’s insecurities to her advantage in all of the camp’s competitions.  Percy has an opportunity to prove his worth as a demigod when a familiar villain poisons Thalia, the tree guardian of the camp.  Friends Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) join Percy in his quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece to restore safety and protect the sanctity of their training camp.

The film’s premise sounds somewhat promising, but writer Marc Guggenheim and director Thor Freudenthal fail to effectively build tension and suspense, taking all of the fun and thrills out of what could have been a really exciting film. The attempts at tension and drama feel so contrived and false that almost none of the conflict plays out naturally. Also, some of the characters go on to make questionable decisions that make their situations even worse and obviously unwarranted. Add more of that lame humor from the first film and the result is an inferior sequel. The first film actually has its fun and exciting moments, but they are seriously lacking here.  The overall experience is not horrible, but really dull and uninteresting.

Visually, the movie has mostly well done special effects with a few minor issues here and there. The kids will definitely marvel at the cool visuals in the film. The cast all deliver adequate performances despite having to contend with silly dialogue and bad jokes. I will state that I found very little interesting about the villain Luke Castellan (Jake Abel). This comes from a mixture of flat acting and the limitations of the writing.  He simply comes across as a whiny teenager with a false sense of entitlement.

As gorgeous as this movie will appear on a massive movie screen, I cannot strongly recommend catching it in theaters.  Even a matinee would require too much money.  The inferior post-conversion 3D doesn’t offer any more incentive either. Parents who can luckily avoid having to take their children to see this at the cinema are much better off renting this eye candy heavy, but ultimately empty movie experience.  The film will still look great on an HD television and will also cost much less. Besides, parents can more easily walk away from the television than they can from a movie auditorium.

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