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.