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Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) ***

February 12, 2010

Written by: Craig Titley
Produced by: Michael Barnathan, Mark Morgan, Guy Oseary, Mark Radcliffe and Karen Rosenfelt
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Rated PG for action violence and peril, some scary images and suggestive material, and mild language
119 min.
U.S Release Date: February 12, 2010

After directing the first two films of the celebrated “Harry Potter” series (and a couple in between), director Chris Columbus adapts the first novel in the “Percy Jackson” series (there are five novels in the series) for the big screen.  The story follows Percy Jackson, a high school aged boy, who finds out that he is a decendant of the Greek god Poseidon and has special powers.  Percy uses his powers in many adventures throughout the series.  Sound familiar?  Given the obvious similarities to the “Harry Potter” series, Chris Columbus is the obvious choice to introduce audiences worldwide to what is sure to be their next literary obsession.

In the first installment, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) starts out as an average high school student.  He lives in a small New York apartment with his mom and step-dad, a man who doesn’t treat Percy or his mom very well at all.  Everything changes when Percy takes a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to learn about Greek gods.  The class just so happens to be receiving a lesson about demigods (those born of one human and one god) in the scene when Percy learns of his true origin, he is the son of Poseidon.

The real adventure begins when Percy learns that (follow me here) Zeus’s lightning bolt has been stolen and Percy is to blame.  Zeus believes that Poseidon wants to start a power struggle in Mount Olympus and getting his son to steal his bolt would be just the thing to tip them over the edge.  In addition to this massive mixup, Percy’s mom gets abducted by Hades as he tries to get Percy to trade the bolt in ransom for the return of his mother.  In hopes to prove his innocence, Percy scrambles across the U.S. on a scavenger hunt to connect the pieces of this puzzle.

After seeing Chris Columbus’s first installment of this series (there will be five, whether you like it or not), I couldn’t help but like as if this film had a bit of the “Avatar effect” sprinkled all over it.  Despite corny dialogue, inexperienced lead actors, and truck loads of CGI (computer generated imagery), the movie manages to entertain.  During the movie, I got caught up in some of these basic flaws (much like I did in “Avatar”), but at the end of it all, I thought, “I had a great time, and I’ll probably see the next one!”

I mentioned everything that was wrong with the film, now here is what was good.  The film takes the audience on several fun rides where the main characters battle against storied mythological villians, such as Medusa, a hydra, and some hell hounds (to name a few).  Also, we get to see many different pieces of old mythology come to life on the screen that we all learned about in school.  There is a sense of history and connection to the mythology that non-reading new followers of Harry Potter couldn’t possibly have felt upon watching the first film of that series.  When the viewers are introduced to different characters in “Percy”, there is an instant reaction and knowledge of what they’re all about.  That could be both a strength and the main crutch of this movie.

There is also a litter of star-studded cameos throughout this film that should keep everyone entertained.  Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman, Sean Bean, and Rosario Dawson all add their spins on famous mythological characters to meet Percy and his friends on their journey.

Overall, like I said earlier, despite the basic shortcomings of this film, it is difficult to come out of it not feeling entertained.  This movie sticks to the ancient mythology that we all know, while creating its own history inside of it. With Harry Potter coming to an end, there will be plenty of room for Percy Jackson and friends to become the world’s next super-powered teen wonder.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2010 8:55 pm

    I have to say there is nothing about this movie that looks interesting. Add Chris Columbus into the mix and it just screams stay away. I think I’ll be waiting for Clash of the Titans for some hot Greek God on Greek God action.

    • February 15, 2010 9:04 pm

      I hear you, Adam. I’m also reviewing this film for what it is… a kids event. There’s nothing in this movie geared toward my demographic, but I was pleasantly surprised. Columbus does, however, make some AWFUL music picks.


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