"Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" Movie Review (2010)

2/12/2010 Posted by Admin

Movie Review

"Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief"

Directed by Chris Columbus, Written by Craig Titley and Joe Stillman, 120 minutes, Rated PG.

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

With the "Harry Potter" film series coming closer and closer to an end, there are going be a good deal of teen fiction adaptations coming out in hopes of starting another successful franchise. It hasn't worked too well for the "Narnia" series, but either way, the studios are giving it a go with "Percy Jackson and the Olympians," a book series about a teenage demigod named Percy Jackson who discovers he's the son of Poseidon.

The plot is a pretty blatant rehash of the typical "coming-of-age hero" tropes. Percy (Logan Lerman) is young. He feels as if he's different from everyone else, but he can't quite figure out how. His home life leaves a lot to be desired. One day, he randomly gets attacked by a mythical beast and he's told by mythical hero-trainer Chiron (who has been disguising himself as Percy's history teacher) that he is the son of Poseidon and therefore has the powers of a demigod. He is then sent to a special school where he can train to be a good demigod, but then he finds out there are greater things in store for him when he is falsely accused of stealing Zeus' lightning bolt and must journey with his two friends to find the truth.

Sound familiar? Yeah, we've heard this before, in "Harry Potter" and even back in stuff like "Star Wars," or "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit." It's nothing new. The film serves a mix of a pseudo Greek and Roman mythology lesson (I say pseudo because, like Disney's "Hercules," it definitely doesn't mind throwing ideas around and putting monsters and gods where they don't belong doing things they'd never do) and a tired adventure story.

We get the whole rogue's gallery of mythological creatures here. Medusa (played by Uma Thurman), the many-headed Hydra (a scene which is nearly an exact replica of the Hydra scene in "Hercules"), the Underworld (with the really inspired casting of Steve Coogan as Hades), and even the land of the Lotus Eaters from "The Odyssey." The latter is one of the most unique and creative sequences in the film. The "land of the lotus eaters" is a casino in Las vegas where Percy and his companions eat "lotus flowers" (weird cookie things here) and have a sort of acid trip to Lady GaGa songs. Certainly one of the more bizarre things I've seen in this kind of film.

If this review appears overtly negative, don't get the wrong idea. Despite how derivative the film is, director Chris Columbus (who actually directed the first two "Potter" films) brings a lot of energy and fun to the proceedings, the casting is pretty spot-on, and the dialogue is generally quite clever and intelligent for this kind of thing.

I might go so far as to say this is better than the majority of the "Potter" series. It's not spectacular by any means, but it's a lot more fun and it moves pretty quickly. Of course, the quick pacing also gets rid of a lot of character and plot development--it feels as if Percy doesn't even get a chance to understand this new world before he starts venturing into it--but it never drags, and that's something the "Potter" films or even the "Narnia" films can't honestly say.

"Percy Jackson" may not end up being the next huge and successful franchise, but at the very least, it was an honest and amusing two hours.

Grade: C

View the trailer for "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" below. What are your thoughts?

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  1. Todd R Jordan - @tojosan said...

    I'm definitely seeing this one.
    Your review sounds much like I'd expect. Definitely a good popcorn chow down flick.

  2. Jess said...

    Agreed. Pretty much what i expected from the film. Something i think i can wait 'til it comes out on dvd to watch.

  3. Tom Graczkowski said...

    Good! I will definitely see it then ;)