‘Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief’ Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 23rd, 2010 at 4:38 pm,

Percy Jackson may not be “Harry Potter good,” but kids will really enjoy it and parents will be happy to have a movie they can bring them to that’s family-friendly.

percy jackson review Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Review
Screen Rant reviews Percy Jackson the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Disclaimer: I have not read a single Percy Jackson book. I’d never even heard of the books until news of the movie version of Percy Jackson the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (man, that’s an annoying long title) first surfaced. I assume that since the Harry Potter franchise is almost played out on the big screen, that Hollywood might be looking for a fresh new series to pick up the baton once the Potter clan rides off into the sunset in their 24 carat gold, diamond encrusted Aston Martins.

As the film opens a gigantic man rises out of the sea and heads into the city (human size by then). He is of course, Poseidon (played by a rather thin looking Kevin McKidd). He meets with another fellow on the roof of the Empire State building who turns out to be Zeus (a somewhat miscast Sean Bean) – Zeus is accusing Poseidon’s son of being “the lightning thief.” It seems that someone has stolen Zeus’ favorite item – and if it is not returned within two weeks he will declare war among the gods.

Our soon-to-be hero Percy is played by 18 year old Logan Lerman (who does a fine job in the lead role). He looks younger and is a self-professed “loser” who pals around with his crippled friend Grover (Brandon T. Jackson). Percy has some major dyslexia (hallucinogenic, even) and the only time he finds peace is when he’s in the water – he loves sitting at the bottom of his school’s swimming pool… for seven minutes at a time.

He lives in a rough inner city neighborhood with his mom (Catherine Keener) and his grubby, rude and stinky stepfather (Joe Pantoliano). I love Joe, and he seemed to be in a different movie – bringing a greater depth to his character in the few moments he was on screen than most of the other actors did throughout the entire film. The man is good at what he does.

It seems that Hades (Steve Coogan) also believes that Percy has stolen Zeus’ lightning and he wants it so he can rule over all the gods himself. All manner of mythological creatures are sent after Percy and eventually he ends up in a training camp for demi-gods (children of god/mortal matings). There he meets Hermes’ son Luke (young Kevin Bacon lookalike Jake Abel) and Athena’s beautiful warrior-daughter Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario). Pierce Brosnan (as a Centaur… weird) tells Percy he must go to Zeus and explain that he is not the thief – but first (for some strange reason) he needs to train to hone his combat skills.

Well a situation arises that causes Percy to want to go to Hades instead of staying to train and head up to Olympus to talk to the big man, and Grover and Annabeth insist on tagging along. What we get then is basically a road trip where they run into some interesting adventures where they run into yet more well-known mythological creatures – that were actually quite entertaining.

There were some scenes that were just scary enough for kids, but nothing that should keep them up at night. If you’re a parent, there was nothing that would give you pause when it comes to watching this with your children – very family friendly. There’s action throughout the film and the climax was pretty impressive.

Overall I actually found the film to be pretty good (for what it was) although it didn’t have the richness and depth that’s present in the Harry Potter films – then again, maybe in those films I’m just impressed by all the British accents… Kidding aside, there’s just a little something that’s missing here, similar to the feeling I get from watching the Narnia movies – just something that’s a little too shallow about them that doesn’t really hook you and drag you deep into the film.

Having said that, there was an audience at the screening I attended and they seemed to enjoy the movie quite a bit, especially the kids in the audience. I think Percy Jackson will do very well at the box office and will no doubt spawn a sequel or two.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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TAGS: 3 star movies, percy jackson

75 Comments

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  1. Vic, would you recommend it for a 6 year old girl? My wife and I are fairly cautious and selective when it comes to suitable films for children.

  2. I just saw Avatar today (REALLY late I know, but for me it was worth the wait) and there were a couple teens camped out for this movie, they said 11 hours left. I had never heard of these books either, but I guess they have some rabid fans.

  3. “then again, maybe in those films I’m just impressed by all the British accents”
    Mr.F for all those Arrested Development fans!:)

  4. My daughter wants to see it and I like fantasy adventure so we were going anyway, but thanks for the pleasantly surprising, favorable review, Vic.

  5. WTF? Impressed by the British accent? I'm British so maybe I'm biased but I don't think our accents are particularly impressive. I love Aussie's though, lol.

    British are only good for charming villains methinks…

  6. List out a few movies she's seen with what you'd call scary scenes.

  7. LOL, I think that usually a British accent just makes people sound smarter and more sophisticated. :-P

  8. Well thank you, I guess, but that's only what's portrayed in movies – 85% of the rest of the country are illiterate thicko's who have no concept of love and 2 teeth between the lof of 'em.

    I mean, have you seen The Jeremy Kyle show? Where do they get thoese people? That show makes me ashamed to be British – oh wait – idiot Prime Minister, an incompetant and arrogant government who take ridiculious liberties and oh yes, endless yobbo violence – that's what makes me ashamed of the Empire….

    Dang we need the Tories back…

  9. That was an awesome post. Could you upload your posts on Youtube so we could hear your accent? :)

  10. INK – If that was sarcasm it's lost, on me since I don't like my accent but at least I'm not a scouser….:)

  11. Actually I am on Youtube but I'm ashamed of it – it's me singing back in secondary school and I wanna die every time I see it…:(

  12. Heh, yes, I guess I'm basing that on movies. I don't know many Brits personally (besides online where I don't get to hear them speak).

  13. As I say Vic, 85% are well spoken, but they tend to be assholes.

    Whilst the average brit is friendly enough, the accent is so common. However American sounds very exotic to me so I guess it's all about perspective.

    I love Alien Vs Predator and Superman Returns so what do I know?

  14. @Steve

    More of an (apparently failed) joke than sarcasm. It wasn't meant to be snarky, just to provide a smile.

  15. I've listened to the first three books in this series and I'm enjoying them so far. But then, I like the whole mythology thing so perhaps that's not so surprising. My favorite book in the series was the 2nd one. I'm looking forward to the film. I agree that the series doesn't have the 'depth' of the Harry Potter stories – but it's entertaining nonetheless.

  16. Generally at the cinema we always go to watch Disney / Pixar or other animated features whcih are okay. She loves those.

    At home recently “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” had her covering her eyes a couple of times.

    Come to think of it, so did a scene in a “Lassie” movie where Lassie fought with a wolf.

    “Batman” – Mask Of The Phantasm animated film, a couple of scenes.

    There's not much else that comes to mind right now. Most of her DVDs are Disney/ Pixar animated films.

    Incidentally I finally saw an ad on TV for Percy Jackson last night after posting on Screenrant. It looks as though it won't be suitable for my daughter but my wife and I are keen to see it.

  17. Just saw the film, my review- Bad, really bad. Very poor character development, ridiculous story line. This was so bad I went out during the big final fight scene and really didn't care when I got back. This was Narnia all over again, only worse! Unless you are less than 10 years old don't bother!

  18. Might be too intense for her. Hades and the Hydra will probably scare her from the sound of it.

  19. Like I said, this is aimed at kids/tweens. I reviewed it in the context of the target audience.

  20. I gotta tell ya…that uh, just sounds awful. But I'll watch since southerners don't know how to change lanes in 1/2 an inch of snow properly blocking up the interstate with car car crashes.

  21. While it may be for kids, that's not a good excuse for bad writing! It simply shows they don't care about their audience, just the money.

  22. Thanks Vic. :-)

  23. Vic, i heard lerman was hoping it did decent enough to get him spider man but not a sequel to this

  24. I don't know about that, but I think he's got a good look for Spidey.

  25. I looked up the movie & the book on Wikipedia. The plots are VERY different!!! I like the changes they made for the movie, though – I see how it works better on screen like this. Also, book to movie, you always have to cut something out.
    –Chris Columbus wallks on water for me… love his stuff.
    –This can be the new Harry Potter, as far as I'm concerned. I really like this movie.
    In fact… it might as well be HP…
    #1 – the chosen one who doesn't know he's special. (son of one of the “big 3″)
    #2 – smart chick who latches on to him (daughter of the Goddess of wisdom?)
    #3 – funny sidekick friend (1/2 goat who eats aluminum cans when he gets nervous)
    #4 – mentor dude who helps train him
    #5 – special school for people who aren't like us (demi-gods / mortals)
    #6 – yada – yada – yada –”Magic Users”
    And as for the accents :-P Tom Felton (actor who plays Draco Malfoy) says part of what he likes about his character is that he gets to lay the accent on really thick!!!
    I'm looking forward to more Percy Jackson!!!! (and I liked the actor when he was in Gamer!)

  26. **Caution! May contain spoilers, a rant, and a couple of tangents**

    The movie was just 'eh' to me. Without Brandon T. Jackson, the much needed comic relief, I would have left the movie for Wolf man or a refund. I don't know, but I really doubt, I would have enjoyed the movie if I hadn't read the books, but with reading them I generally expected something that had some extra stuff added to move the story along but nothing this pitiful.Why in the world would any writer allow another writer to chop the crap out of their work makes no sense to me but hey to each their own.

    The casting was a bit off. When you think of Hades you think of someone, or if you've read the book you probably think across these lines too, who is a mixture of Snape, Judas, and Hades from the animated feature Hercules definitely not Steve Coogan or the way Hades was portrayed in the movie.

    Also, with the things they cut out, a major part of the plot which the whole series revolves around, it doesn't leave much room for a sequal, if it does well they probably will try anyway. I mean we didn't even get to meet Mr. D or the person in the attic, such a disappointment.

  27. i think that the lightning thief movie sucked really bad and here are my reasons
    1. grover was a pervert
    2.they had a stupid love story about percy and annabeth
    3. they replaced the best parts of the book with stuff that wasnt even in the book like…
    a battle wih a hydra?
    a quest to find 3 pearls?
    luke having halo?
    the worst flying fight ever?
    hades wife cheating on him and falls for a guy with no human legs

    dont see this movie ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. The lightning theif was not a bad movie it was good for people who never read the book but if you did don't watch it. I read the book and I didn't like the story because some things were missing like…
    Ares, Clarece and Anabeth's invisabl cap.
    If you read the book you will not like the movie.

  29. IMDB listed Ray Winston as Ares, I was SOOOO looking forward to him as Ares, I was crushed his only screen time was in the background of the council shots, they never even showed him directly.

    I understand some of the changes they made for pacing, and I *LOVE* Chris Columbus' work.. But really he should have changed the name and said “based on the book Percy Jackson”. When more than 70% of the content is different it should get a different name.

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