Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

by | Feb 12th, 2010 | 9:45AM | Filed under: Theatrical Reviews

Percy_Jackson_&_the_Olympians_The_Lightning_Thief_posterSly shout-outs to Greek mythology will keep adults entertained and a dreamy hero and heroine will give pre-teens something to be excited about, but filmgoers of all ages might end up wishing The Lightning Thief had also stolen about thirty minutes from this fantasy-adventure's running time.

About halfway through Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, I was overcome with a sense of déjà vu: all of a sudden it was 2001 again, and I was at the midnight screening of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And I found myself a little, well, bored. What do Percy Jackson and the first Harry Potter film have in common, besides both being adaptations of bestselling children's books? They were both directed by Chris Columbus. Dude needs to work on speeding things up a bit.

For those of you not familiar with Rick Riordan's series of novels, they revolve around Percy Jackson, who's a twelve-year-old in the books, but a teenager played by Gamer's Logan Lerman in the film. He's also a demigod who doesn't know he's a demigod until he's assaulted by a really angry (and ugly) Fury while on a school field trip. His mom (Catherine Keener) finally cops to having hooked up with none other than Poseidon, god of the sea, back in the day. But Greek gods don't make for the best dads, especially after Zeus banned his fellow immortals from palling around with their humanoid offspring. Therefore, Percy's never known who his father was — though the fact that he feels most at home underwater is now starting to make a lot more sense.

His mom finally spilled the truth because Big Bad Zeus believes Percy has stolen his lightening bolt, the most powerful weapon in the world. Percy's done no such thing, of course, but tell that to the Minotaur who tried to smash him to pieces — and then, to add insult to injury, whisked his mom off to Hades. Percy realizes that Zeus will stop at nothing to get his bolt back, and if it isn't returned to his mighty grip within two weeks, he's declaring war. That would not be good.

Percy_jackson06 The only option Percy has is to find refuge at Camp Half-Blood, where all of the other demigods run around in ancient battle garb and train by fighting each other in extremely outdated ways. He's taken there by his best friend/"protector" Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), a satyr (half-man, half-goat) who's been able to hide his furry legs quite cleverly whilst chillin' in high school with his buddy for the past several years.

At the camp, Percy lays eyes on Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) — a mini-Xena warrior princess with beyond-blue eyes and puffy-cloud lips — and starts feeling all funny inside. Too bad she's the daughter of Athena and their parents, like, totally hate each other.  But she still wants to join Percy and Grover on their quest to save Percy's mom from Hades… and hopefully solve the mystery of the missing lightning bolt in the process. 

Things get increasingly interesting once the trio embarks upon their quest, but unfortunately there's still a lot of filler that Columbus should've cut in order to make the story more engaging. Many scenes, like "The Land of the Lotus-Eaters" (aka: Vegas) sequence, were fun for the first five minutes, but eventually made me want to cry out, "OK, OK, we get it already — MOVE ON!"  Then there were the teasingly short cameos by Uma Thurman (Medusa), Rosario Dawson (Persephone) and Steve Coogan (Hades) that left me wanting more. 

Uma The good news is that the cast knows how to act, which helped to smooth over a few of the rougher patches of generic dialogue and made the slower stretches bearable. The three leads are downright good-looking, and I can only imagine they'll all be adorning junior-high lockers for months to come. There are also a lot of CGI effects in play and the vast majority of them are extremely impressive — wide shots of Mount Olympus and the Underworld stuck with me long after the film had ended. The only thing that didn't sit quite right with me for some reason was Pierce Brosnan as a… well, no, I won't ruin that for you. 

As I've mentioned before, I love love love Greek mythology, and so I couldn't help but get a kick out of Percy Jackson's shout-outs to the gods, goddesses and various creatures of those excellent stories. I just wish that the pacing hadn't been so off — there were too many boring spells over the course of two hours, none of which built up very smoothly to the bursts of action sequences.  And parents of younger kids, be forewarned, some of the monsters are SCARY — I wouldn't recommend this one for children prone to nightmares. Overall, however, it's good, clean, fun family entertainment — and if all of the series' fans trek to theaters this weekend to see their boy wonder come to life on the big screen, then I don't think this is the last we'll be seeing of Percy Jackson.

41 Responses to “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

  1. Tybo108
    Posted on February 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Wow. I don’t regularly write reviews, but I have to for this one. Percy Jackson & The Olympians is my favorite book series, and I had huge expectations for this movie. I was let down. This movie seemed to jump around a little too fast, and the major plot from the book was absent from the film, filled in by a formulaic and cheesy plot that you can find in a typical fantasy/action film. The choice in actors really impressed me, but the acting, namely from Percy and Annabeth didn’t. Fans of the book, don’t get your hopes up when you watch this. To everyone else, it’ll still seem like an okay film, but I recommend you read the book instead.

  2. Just Dave
    Posted on February 16, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I agree that the movie and the book are different experiences, but for what it’s worth, the movie didn’t waste my time. I would still encourage those who are turned off by the poor reviews to catch this movie at matinee prices in the coming weekends. If the fans of the series don’t come out to see the movie, there won’t be any chance of improvements for Sea of Monsters, as the studio may cut it’s losses. So, come on fans of Percy and the Olympians, show your support! Just a thought from an avid reader that would like to see the rest of the book series come to life on the big screen, albeit with a much tighter adherence to the storylines.

  3. Presley
    Posted on February 16, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    If you havent read the books, go see it. It was good. If you have, expect Clarise, Ares, Thalia’s tree, the hellhound at camp, the prophecy, the quest, and pretty much the entire middle of the book.
    I read the books, but put them aside because I knew from the trailers it would be wrong from the start. Olympus looked wrong, annabeth looked wrong…Basically what i am saying is go see it, (at matinee prices), and put the book out of your mind, or you will regret spending the money.
    I liked the movie. But I LOVED the books.
    Sorry Chris Columbus…but get another job dude. Or at least quit bringing books to the big screen. Its not your cup of tea bro.

  4. bookworm
    Posted on February 16, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    This movie just fell flat compare to the books, it was just another flop like Eragon. Where both movies had immense potential for a huge franchise the likes of harry potter, lord of the rings heck even twilight but the script writers and directors just didn’t have the guts or maybe even the budget to go all out and do both adaptations justice. what a disappointment!

  5. Erika Jade
    Posted on February 16, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    The movie wasn’t terrible as a whole. I agree it was rather slow moving. However I do not think it was anywhere remotely close to the book had they kept with the book the movie would have had a much faster pace and I think the story would have been better.

  6. Laura
    Posted on February 17, 2010 at 2:05 am

    I understand how you feel, because Athena has always been my favorite goddess, but I promise Rick Riordan doesn’t screw that part up…that is all I am going to say. You probably would enjoy the series because he keeps her authentic, and Annabeth is an awesome character (I mean she is the daughter of Athena!). Not to mention, the author is getting his audience interested in reading about Greek mythology…no harm in that! ;)

  7. GJD
    Posted on February 17, 2010 at 9:38 am

    LOVE the books. Like the movie ok. Really good effects. Again, this is a dead horse already, the book is better. What hasn’t been said is the few curse words in the “PG” kids movie. Why do we need cursing in kid’s movies? It doesn’t add to or even a good filler!

  8. mimi3
    Posted on February 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    The movie satisfied my 8 year old son. He was entertained. But, that being said, it was quite boring, extremely predictable, and it didn’t hold a candle to the Harry Potter films.
    Much hype, no substance.

  9. sjp
    Posted on February 17, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I am sorry I hadn’t even heard of the book series my son stated telling me about it so me him and two of his friends went to see it.They read the books already the whole series and they were sits They were literally sits on the edge of there seats watching it.I read alot of books and some of them have been made into movies.With that said I’m usually disapointed,but not totally dissatisfied with most of them.It is almost impossible to make a movie just like the book.Books have so much detail,dialog,sometimes put you into the persons thoughts.With that said I thought it was awesome I know I didn’t read the books YET but planning on it and yes I probaly will be a little disappionted.But if they made every movie that is based on a book it would probably be a four or five hour movie like THE STAND by Stephen King which was probably the best movie based on a book.I just hate how these critics put down these movies that are really great movies,yes it had some parts that did remind me of Harry Potter but not enough to make it a bad movie.I geuss they have to put these movies down so they can continue to keep their jobs.I think by doing this just makes you a little less than the news channel’s that focus on the negative on movies,books and tragedies instead of the good in them.It wouldn’t hurt to just say sometimes yes that was a very good movie instead of it reminded me of this and they left out out that.Believe it or not but people will actually tune in and read your review’s and not be turned off by it and not want to check them out again..

  10. Briana Brooks
    Posted on February 17, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Good movie! I read the whole series so I knew what to expect. But I have to say, there probably was not a plan to do the whole series. The movie left out vital first book information required to continue the series. Anyone who read the books notice that anything related to Cronus and Ares was left out? Anyway, it was a good movie, and I would probably buy it, so go see it!

  11. moviegoer123
    Posted on February 17, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    At this rate, I would have to rent it at least and forget about seeing it never.
    I’ll be renting it once it comes out on DVD. All the reviews I read here seems like it was a good movie and some people say its not but I will be seeing it once it’s out on DVD! =)

  12. j.t
    Posted on February 17, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    the movie stinks it didnt stick to the book at all

  13. Stacey
    Posted on February 17, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    My friends and I had anticipated seeing the midnight premiere for this movie for over a month after reading the books and falling in love with them. But I have never been so disappointed in a movie in my entire life. It is almost as if the director was trying to change literally everything except for the characters names. I also didn’t even feel that the movie was well written and the acting was quite sub-par.
    If you read the books, DO NOT go see this movie! you will more than likely walk out an hour early just like me and my friends did.

  14. moviegoer123
    Posted on February 18, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    j.t: I agree with you. I still have to see it but it does look good so let me see it on rent and then I’ll find out if it’s my kind of movie…

  15. MARIA
    Posted on February 22, 2010 at 4:24 pm


  16. Nicole
    Posted on February 27, 2010 at 7:29 am

    My school went to see this movie in theaters. We had read the book at school and they aloud us to go and see it. I loved all the action in it and would recommend it to anyone. But as much as I loved it, they had alot of good action parts out and they replaced them with stupid parts. It was a great family movie to see and a good comedy involved too. Mos tof the kids at my school had the same comments that I have posted.Go see it now!!!