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'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' will only appeal to kids

'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' is a step down from the first movie in the series, 'Percy Jackson & the Olympians: the Lightning Thief.' 'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' doesn't do anything unique with its 3-D format and makes poor use of its Greek mythology source material.

By Ben KendrickScreen Rant / August 10, 2013

'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters' stars Logan Lerman.

Murray Close/20th Century Fox/AP

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Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is the follow-up to 2010′s Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – both big screen adaptations of Rick Riordan’s five part Percy Jackson book series. After preventing a world-threatening civil war between Zeus and Poseidon, the celebrity status of Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) has started to fade. New demigods have been upstaging the titular hero, most notably the daughter of Ares, Clarisse La Rue (Leven Rambin), causing Percy to question whether his earlier victory was nothing more than beginner’s luck.

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That is until the magical barrier protecting Camp Half-Blood is breached and Percy is once again called upon to defend both human as well as demigod kind. Joined by his friends Grover Underwood (Brandon T. Jackson) and Annabeth Chase (Alexandra Daddario), along with half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith), Percy sets out for the Sea of Monsters (aka the Bermuda Triangle) in search of The Golden Fleece – a magical piece of fabric capable of healing the barrier (as well as anyone or anything else on the verge of death). However, along the way, Percy and his fellow travelers come face to face with an old enemy who has a nefarious interest in the Fleece – as a means of enacting revenge on the ancient Olympians.

For the second installment, Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) has taken over franchise directorial duties from Chris Columbus – and the result is a film that will easily satisfy pre-teen fans of the book series (or any of the twenty-something actors involved). However, Sea of Monsters isn’t nearly as well realized as the previous installment – meaning that older moviegoers who enjoyed The Lightning Thief may find that Freudenthal’s entry stumbles in its efforts to offer anything more than shallow, and kid-friendly, adventuring.

The first installment leaned heavily on the grand scale of the larger Percy Jackson storyline, where the titular hero has direct contact with mystical creatures and heavy-hitting Gods Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades – making it a guilty pleasure for fans of Greek mythology and fantasy adventure (read our Lightning Thief review), in addition to the target children/teen demographics. This round, the story is much more narrow, primarily focused on stale teenage character drama to fill in the gaps between CGI creature encounters. Unfortunately, even when the onscreen action ramps up, many of the skirmishes are brief and underwhelming – not to mention surprisingly short of interesting mythological creatures.

Younger filmgoers will still be able to appreciate the middle-of-the-road action adventure and respond to the banter between Sea of Monsters heroes and villains (as they should). Yet, Freudenthal falls short of the bar set by Columbus, failing to elevate the material in any meaningful (or particularly interesting) way, and as a result, limits the number of viewers who will find worthwhile payoff in his film.

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