Before it descends into Percy Jackson and the Things That Happen in Movies Like This
, this myth-raiding kids' adventure at times clicks into the inventive groove of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson novels, which at their best are touched with the high strangeness of the ancient tales that inspire them. (The books, about the offspring of the Greek gods and mortals, rarely feel like off-brand Harry Potter the way the movies do.) But here the high weirdness of myth is of course expurgated, made explicable, the ore of folklore pounded into the tchotchke of Young Adult plotting. Young Jackson's mission this time is to filch the Golden Fleece from a Cyclops in the Bermuda Triangle. To that end, director Thor Freudenthal stages a rousing attack by a clockwork bull, a gears-and-fury beast whose mouth hinges open to reveal a flame-thrower, and presents a magical animated infodump where all the gods of Olympus are rendered in stained glass. (Hey, if it's good enough for one god, it's good enough for all of them!) But even Homer nods. Much of the film is a deadly bore, with the too-old-to-pass-for-teens stars playing characters with one trait apiece-- and failing to bring that trait to life. Usually when you see actors this pretty and this vacant standing around this awkwardly, you expect them to take their clothes off. Logan Lerman's Jackson exhibits none of the troubled complexity of the ADHD-addled boy of the books; the filmmakers forget key tenets of his character just as often as the movie's villains forget the basics of his parentage. Seriously, if you kidnapped the son of Poseidon, would you imprison him on a yacht-- in the ocean?