Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief (2010)

Film review: Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief (2010), directed by Chris Columbus

percyjacksonlightningthieffilmEver had the thought “I wonder what would happen if the Greek gods were actually real”? Rick Riordan must have done, as he’s written a series of books about it.

Zeus (Sean Bean) has had his lightning bolt stolen, and thinks Poseidon’s (Kevin McKidd) has stolen it. Zeus needs it back sharpish, and if he doesn’t, there will be a war. Problem is, as we’re about to find out, the gods aren’t allowed to talk to their demi-god offspring.

Cut to teenager Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), who lives with his mum (Catherine Keener) and horrible stepdad (Joe Pantoliano), and isn’t exactly a keen student. When he’s attacked by some sort of monster when visiting a museum, he finds out that his friend Grover (Brandon T Jackson) is actually his protector … and a satyr.

Together with Percy’s mum, they flee to “Camp Half-Blood”, but get intercepted by a minotaur. Percy’s mum is taken, and Percy … finds out that his wheelchair-bound teacher Mr Brunner (Pierce Brosnan) is actually a centaur, and that there are other kids whose mother or father is a Greek deity. There’s so much more to life than Percy ever expected.

He teams up with Athena’s daughter Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and set off with Grover in order to find the lightning bolt. Someone stole it, obviously, but Percy sure didn’t do it, and he’s keen to find out why someone wants to pin it on him. Oh yes, and he’d also like to avert the war.

Also starring Steve Coogan as Hades, Uma Thurman as Medusa, Rosario Dawson as Persephone and Jake Abel as Luke.

I wonder if it’s possible to watch this without drawing parallels with Harry Potter. Sure, Harry isn’t a demi-god, and the Greek pantheon only lends names to people in his world, but two guys and a girl, “Half-Blood”, centaurs (although these are from the same school as Narnia rather than those ugly CGI atrocities of Harry Potter), a special, hidden-away school for kids with special abilities … Chris Columbus directed the first two films as well.

Annabeth as a character, I liked … I think. She can fight and is very capable (you know, like Hermione). Grover is the goofy side-kick (you know, like Ron), although I feel sorry for Jackson, because not only is he like the Token Black Guy, he’s also portrayed as a stereotype. Okay, satyrs are randy buggers, that’s not what I mean, I mean how he talks. Remember this?

Hell yeah! Ha! That’s how we all talk? We all talk like dis, “suh”? Yes suh, ha! Yeah mmm-hmm get some crawfish, and some ribs, ha! Ye-aah. You’re Australian! Be Australian!

Same actor, different film. Except in Tropic Thunder, Jackson gets to call the bluff, so to speak. Not so here. Shame. Real shame.

The film follows a fairly standard narrative, where, as we were coming up to Act 3, I pointed out the blatant “raising the stakes”, in how they were suddenly running out of time quicker than they realised. You could also say that it was fairly obvious who had stolen the lightning rod thingy, and that people were way to quick to point fingers at Percy (who, until he was attacked in the museum, had no idea who his dad was, and was just a perfectly normal teenager as far as he was concerned) but it doesn’t really matter.

Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief is entertaining and full of adventure. It’s a good ride, the special effects do their job, and it’s fun to watch. There’s a sequel in the works, Sea of Monsters, set for release in mid-August 2013. Nathan Fillion, Stanley Tucci and Anthony Head is going to be in it. Ahhhh I can’t wait!

For the young adult audience to which it’s intended, it’s a great film. As an adult, it feels a little flat, but it isn’t bad. It will be interesting to see where it all goes – and we’re getting the books as well, so you could say we both really enjoyed it.

3.8 out of 5 winged Converse.

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